Welcome to Ærøskøbing 

Ærøskøbing - the Fairytale town

Located half way up the northern coast of Ærø is Ærøskøbing – probably the most well-preserved town of the 18th century in Denmark. The town dates back to the early Middle Ages and recently celebrated its 750-year jubilee. Many of its houses are unconditionally preserved and the town as a whole is subject to a preservation planning with strict guidelines for the development of the town and for the construction of new houses and renovation of old ones. The museums tell the story of Ærøskøbing and centuries as a market town where shipping and trade were the main activities in addition to hinterland farming. Ærøskøbing Church at the market square is the third church on that location and on the square are the two old town pumps that supplied the town with water right up till 1952. The old harbour has been enlarged by a new marina and the beach at Vesterstrand with its colourful little beach huts is only a few minutes’ walk from the town and the harbour. For the many visitors to the town, fine overnight accommodation is offered by the camping site, the youth hostel, guest houses, and hotels. Ærøskøbing is a perfect idyll with its cobbled streets, hollyhocks, and the small, well-preserved houses with their many peculiar details. Danish as well as foreign guidebooks describe the town as the Fairy-Tale Town. Don’t forget though, that behind the idyllic facade of the town is a live and active town that has solved successive generations’ housing needs for centuries. The town’s development has been rational and gradual, governed by natural conditions – what in our time would be referred to as a sustainable development. Just the way all other towns in the country developed. But Ærøskøbing remains the only original one. At the tourist office you may wish to buy a beautiful booklet that was published on the occasion of the outstanding award to Ærøskøbing in 2002 of the Europa Nostra Prize for Cultural Heritage. The booklet accounts for the structure of the town and what makes the houses so characteristic. The street courses and the design and details of the houses are described, as are the conservation initiatives taken over the years to retain the urban landscape as it is seen today. It is worth noticing that the Europa Nostra Prize was awarded not because of the conservation standard of the town as such, but for the initiative taken by Ærøskøbing’s inhabitants to preserve the town. The town of Ærøskøbing demonstrates the truly democratic initiative taken by the town’s inhabitants to retain intact an urban landscape dating from the Middle Ages, as the committee stated when awarding the prize. The town can be seen as a monument of the past, but at the same time it is a significant model for present-day residential housing because it is an expression of the accumulated experience of generations on knowledge of housing and town planning.  The cooking house. Because of the great respect for risk of fire and based on a resolution from 1787 banning the use of open fire on board wooden ships, cooking houses were erected on the harbours. In 1810, »die Brückenkasse« paid for such a cooking house on Ærøskøbing Harbour. The cooking house today has kept some of its original function as it is now used as a barbecue hut.

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