Thyra: Sæby, a most charming Smalltown in Vendsyssel

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sæby, a most charming Smalltown in Vendsyssel

A Taste of Denmark 

Peder Mønsted. forest.painting
The town Sæby in the northeastern part of Jutland lies about 12 km south of Frederikshavn and 50 km northeast of Aalborg.  It lies at the river-mouth in an idyllic nature looking like a painting from the Danish Golden Age the late 1800s. Artists and authors were gathering in the small town  by the sea of Kattegat. The town was originally a fishing village,.but it got its municipal rights in 1524

Sæby is today a hinterland town for a big part of the southeastern Vendsyssel and an important tourist city , attracting holiday-guests because of its bathing beaches and the old small-town milieu.  In the summer period many yachtsmen come , and the first they see by entering the harbour is the modern landmark of the town Fruen fra Havet (The Lady from the Sea) raised there in 2001. The other and oldest  landmark of Sæby is the church , Sct. Marie church, which was once
a karmelit-kloster. The earliest sections of the church are from the 1100s, while the other sections are from the 1400s and 1500s. Close to the church is the old market square with the old town hall from 1750.

Sæby originally emerged  at the mouth of Sæby river by the sea of Kattegat. Here was a natural possibility for a harbor. Most of the old town lies south of the river. West of the town lies the pretty Sæbygård forest in a very hilly terrain. The river runs through the forest surrounded by steep  slopes, grown with beeches.

The Vikings were the first citizens in the small village by the mouth of the river. Traces of wooden bulwark from the Viking period were found at the outernest river mouth. .

In the Middle Ages the town consisted of two divided town-societies. By the sea was a fishing village, and a little church was built here in 1450. Inside, in the countryside,  was a farmer's village, connected to the fishing village by a field-road. The two societies were gradually  closer connected
when houses were built along the field-road.


 The old main street Algade lies like a silent provinciel idyl. Each house has a history. The house which is now museum had its present look in the 1700s. Clasens Hotel was built about 1750. Today Clasens hotel is a part of the city-museum. Sæby Watermill is also one of the attractions. The watermill was built in 1710,while the living house is from 1850.


  Sæby church is from the 1400s. When the kloster was founded in Sæby, the monks extended the church in order to make it function as both parish church  and kloster church. The church in Sæby was once a part of the southern wing of Maristed kloster



Both the town Sæby and the closeby manor Sæbygård belonged to the rich bishopric Børglum in the 1460s. Bishop Jens Friis established a Karmelit-kloster at the church in the fishing village. The kloster was consecrated to Sct. Marie and was called Maristed. It kept this name until after the reformation. Another Børglum-bishop Stygge Krumpen provided the municipal rights for Sæby in 1524.

The harbour was the life-nerve of the town, but at the same time it gave lots of problems for the fishers, the merchants and the city management, because it was filled with silt each spring, brought from the inside land - and in the autumn storms sand and seaweed filled the front of the river mouth. In 1879 the conditions grew better when the river outlet was led north

From the end of the 1800s Sæbys pretty situation and cosy small-town environment were discovered by Scandinavian artists and authors. Painters like P.C.Skovgaard, Peter Mønsted and Chr. Zacho were inspired by the romantic milieu. Several authors also took residence in the town. Gustav Wied settled in a pension called Rolykke outside town - and here he got married 1st of  May 1896. Henrik Ibsen  lived at the Hotel Harmonien at the square, while Holger Drachmann and Herman Bang resided at Clasens Hotel. In Herman Bang's novel "Sommerglæder" some citizens were very offensive portrayed. They felt insulted and complained to the Danish author society which  rejected the complaint.

The mayor-daughter Adda Ravnkilde was a very young author who broke the norms by writing about the problems of female authors in a male-dominated society. She wrote three novels before she in 1883 committted suicide at the age of 21. Her tragic fate is said to have inspired Henrik Ibsen to his play "The Lady from the Sea".

The artists met with the locals and other holiday guests for evening feasts in Clasens garden, which lies close to the river. The cosy atmosphere was delivered by the married couple from the hotel by hanging coloured lanterns up and let the local symphonic orchestra play music.



Along the river is a park with a winding path from the harbour to the watermill. Between the main street and the river is a beautiful little park which was earlier the garden of the famous Clasens Hotel. In a corner of the park is the instrument, Thomas Andersens "Earth bass". in the lane.

A garden Nellemans Have is an old apple orchard from 1925. The garden holds more than 200 various crab apple trees.

At Voergård manor about 20 km southwest of Sæby is one of the finest collections of art and antiques, due to the farmer's son Ejnar Clausen, who when young married a stinking rich French count-widow and in 1955 brought her large family-collection to Voergård. There is public access to the main building and the park.

By the coast is the small idyllic fishing village Voerså with harbour in the river mouth. The inn got  a royal privilege in 1730, and the old village-school has a little fishing museum.

The manor Sæbygård, which belonged to the bishopric of Børglum, is now a manor- museum.
It lies in the outskirt of Sæbygård forest.

photo Sæby: grethe bachmann, August 2014:


Out on the prairie said...

What an amazing town.

Thyra said...

Thank you for your visit Steve!

Grethe ´)

Carolyn said...

Beautiful, as always, Grethe .... I shared your blog with my travel group.

...even though I don't comment much, I keep up with your blog ~ always so informative and pretty. ;)

Thyra said...

Hej Carolyn, thanks, I love to see your blog too, although I don't comment so much right now. We'll meet again once in a while!

Grethe ´)

Teresa Evangeline said...

I have been away too long ... love the yellow house with green window trim and white picket fence ... I could move right in ... As always, your photos are wonderful, that one in particular .. Hope all is well ...