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"The Ships"

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  MARSTAL
 

- Denmark's most maritime community -
 
 
 
 


Marstal
- typical wall decoration -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)



The people of Denmark has for thousands of years been living in very close contact with water.
Actually it is said, that nobody in Denmark will need more than one hour in order to reach the nearest coast.

This very close relationship between man and water has over the centuries developed a distinct maritime culture with several typical maritime centers, - with a large seagoing population -, and a strong concentration of shipping activities involving ship owners,- ship building and motor manufacturing and,- of course-,  fishing.

Such a maritime center is the beautiful island of Ærø, - and in its heyday for about 150 years ago -, the number of ships registered there were only surpassed by the capital,- the fair city of Copenhagen.
 
 

The island Ærø with cities Marstal and Ærøskøbing.




Today the island is home to more that 1/5 of the Danish coaster fleet,- about 60 ships-, and of those ships, about 50 are registered in the small city of Marstal.
This city,- with its unique maritime culture-,  is more marked by its seafaring traditions than any other Danish city I know about.
It is simply the most marked maritime city in Denmark.
Quite impressive, taken into consideration that the city is rather small, with a population of only about 2500 people.
 
 


Marstal
Wonderful old city houses in a Marstal street leading down to the boat harbour - -
On the island in the background, you see the old lime kiln,- the white building with the tall chimney -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)




When walking the streets of Marstal, you cannot avoid to take note of the very distinct maritime atmosphere attached to many of the cozy, old houses and the streets.
Nowhere else in Denmark I have ever seen a higher concentration of "Staffordshire dogs" in the windows.
Also you will see ships models, pictures, murals, bells, blocks,- and many anchors displayed in gardens, - or as wall decorations.
And more - - -
 
 



Marstal
Here they are; - - - the "Staffordshire dogs"!
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)

They are looking into the room, away from the outside world,- indicating that the seaman is at home.
When they look outward,- he is at sea.

These "dogs" seem to be everywhere in every street, and bear witness of a large, seagoing population, who had it as a very popular,- and special sailor tradition-, to bring home a couple of these "dogs" as souvenir and window decoration.
 
 


Marstal
Here is a another pair of "dogs".
Well,- actually they are not dogs, but Chinese "Fu"-lions, indicating that a Far East sailor once had been around -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)


In the beginning of May 2001,- I had the good fortune of spending a week in Marstal.
Not as a holiday guest,- but attending a course in the city's modern navigation school.  That left me with only a very limited time for exploring the city and its surroundings, but hopefully I did manage to capture some of the special atmosphere and maritime spirit of this unique city.

Please enjoy more of my images from Marstal.
 
 


Marstal
- another beautiful old city house with a nice door -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Marstal
- and here a detail from another special Marstal door with a schooner decoration behind the window -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 


Marstal
- a view along a typical Marstal street, leading down to the port area -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 
 


Marstal
- here one of the many Marstal houses with a distinct maritime touch, - schooners painted on the wall -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Marstal
- another beautiful door from the 2001 series -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 


Marstal
- the port with coasters and the repair yard that maintain the fleet -
Photographed in Marstal,  May 2001.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 


Marstal
- the port with coasters and pleasure boats -
Photographed in Marstal,  May 2001.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 


Coaster "Kim" of Marstal
- immaculately maintained, - not a spot of rust visible-
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 


Marstal, - traditional ship building
Shipbuilders "Ebbes Bådebyggeri" still turns out new boats built from wood, - or repair the old ones -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 

------------------------------------



In April 2006 I returned to explore the whole island of Ærø (Aeroe), and of course I used the opportunity to have a closer look at Marstal.
The following images are all from this trip.
 
 


Marstal
- the church -
- the tomb in the foreground is , - of course -, the resting place of a Sea Captain born in 1797 -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Marstal
When talking about resting places for sailors - - - Here a war memorial for the sailors lost at sea during WW 2.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)

Due to the many ships and sailors coming from Marstal, this small maritime community was particular hard hit by the war actions at sea.
Of all the Danish sailors that were lost at sea during the war, a staggering number of about 10% happened to come from this small city alone, which makes me believe, that such a heavy loss of sailors must have affected almost every family in town.
 
 


Marstal
- another one of Marstal's many typical wall paintings of ships -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 


Marstal
- well maintained old city house , - of course with Staffordsshire dogs in the window -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Marstal
A great window display with a strong maritime touch.
Here the compulsory Staffordshire dogs, - a light house model, and a couple of "old salts" looking at the world outside.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


A view of the boat harbour.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)

Take note of the old lime kiln that can be seen on the island behind the row of small fishing boats.
Also take note of the mast and the covered hull of old, traditional Marstal schooner "Bonavista", which is now being restored to it's former glory. (April 2006)
 





"Samka" of Marstal
- one of the last of the first -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)

After the second World War, - a number of modern coasters were built in Denmark to replace war losses and the outdated sail schooners - - -
In Marstal 20 such coasters were built, - one of them was "Samka" launched in 1956 -, and she is still going strong.
She is now preserved as a museum ship and as an important representative for Denmark's maritime heritage.
She can be hired for charter trips or exhibitions or whatever purpose she would be well suited for.
As a museum ship she has been restored to her original appearance, and is one of two still surviving units of this special class of Denmark's original first generation coasters.





Marstal
- a somewhat special detail from the maritime past -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)


 


When driving on the road along the Marstal harbour waterfront you might feel a slight bump in your car at a certain place.
When walking you can more easily observe what is the cause of that.
It looks as if it is a piece of a huge iron ring coming out from the ground beneath, - and that is exactly what it is.
This old iron ring was once used for attaching one of the huge blocks and tackle that was used when the great sailing ship hulls had to be keelhauled.
When the original road along the waterfront had to be made wider and upgraded, - and the technique of keelhauling was long abandoned -, this anchor point for the keelhauling gear was obviously in the way for the road project.
However, - instead of removing the old anchor point, the road builders simply built the new road right on top of it, and what you see now is the top of the heavy iron ring protruding through the asphalt layer!
A funny little detail,- very historical- very maritime -, but now hardly noticed by anyone - - - -





Marstal
- typical Marstal wall decoration -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)

An unusual high number of houses in the old part of Marstal have wall decorations of maritime character.
Mostly you will find paintings, - ship nameplates, - or like on this picture, - a mural built into the wall - -
All with maritime pictures, - mostly gaily painted - - -
(See also the other pictures of various wall decorations on this page.)




Wall decoration at village Ommel, - just outside Marstal.
Take note of the striking similarity with the wall decoration on the past picture.
This design seems to be very common in the area.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)


 

When mentioning Ommel, - it would be a good idea to add a few more pictures from this village.
Being a village, you will not find the small semi-detached city houses that you find in Marstal's narrow streets.
The houses in Ommel are free standing, - and bigger.
However, - the signs of a distinct maritime past is also clearly evident here, - for example the Staffordshire dogs and maritime wall decorations.
I think that the Sea Captains and Officers would stay in the bigger houses in Ommel, - while Marstal was more home to the ordinary sailors and ship builders.





Traditional village house in Ommel.
This house could very well have been the home of a Sea Captain.
- take note of the Staffordshire dog in the upper window -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 


A lonely "Staffordshire Dog" looking out.
They always come in pairs, - so here one of the original dogs has been lost.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)



 


Marstal Marine Association
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)

Back to Marstal again - - - -
I will end this page with a picture of the imposing building of the Marstal Marine Association, - just to show how maritime this small city really is - - - -
In Denmark more or less all cities of a certain size has a Marine Association, - a club for present and past navy personnel, or for people with a special connection to, or interest in things maritime -, but you do not normally see a building so impressive as this one.
Try to compare this great mansion with the much more modest wooden shack in  Middelfart - - -



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  Updated:   October 11th. 2001
                   May 08.2005
                   May 20.2006
                   May 22.2006
                   April 30.2008
                  June 29.2008