Yesterday we started our last bike ride
of this Scandinavian adventure, which took us all the way from Aalborg to Frederikshavn. Again we were spoiled by the nice summer weather, like so often on this journey before.
While it was a nice and reasonably easy ride, the surroundings weren’t really spectacular or of stunning beauty, so that I didn’t take a single photo during the ride.
The arrangements that I had made previously with the landlord of the youth hostel worked out very well indeed. Since he had been fully booked, our only chance to getting a place to stay for two nights was his second location, which turned out to be the sports arena of Frederikshavn, where a few rooms were furnished as youth hostel rooms. Solo seemed pretty surprised that we were the only people staying in this room with its four beds…but then I had booked a family room and not a “surprise more people to come and join” room 😀
For today, another sunny summer’s day, we had made a couple of plans after the landlord’s recommendations from yesterday. But before we could start out on our sightseeing-bike-tour we had to find a place to have breakfast. If we had booked it, we could have had breakfast at the youth hostel, but instead, we decided to find a cafe in town where we could enjoy our meal.
After that it was time to start the sightseeing-ride.
Sightseeing in Frederikshavn
Our first stop was the Krudttårnet — Gun Powder Tower — which had attracted our attention the day before when we spotted it on the way to the restaurant where we had dinner.
Krudttårnet (The Gun Powder Tower) was the central building within the citadel (fortress) of Fladstrand, which was built in the end of the 1600s. Additional to its function to store gun powder the tower was also used as a platform for canons.
Frederikshavn, which was then called Fladstrand, was at that time not a town but a fishing village. The sea outside of Fladstrand constituted the northern part of the best anchoring place on the eastern coast for large ships, which were looking for shelter from bad weather before they were to pass through the dangerous waters around Skagen. The citadel was, therefore built as a supporting point for the sailing between Denmark and Norway. During “Den Store Nordiske Krig” (one of many wars between Denmark and Sweden) in the beginning of the 1700s, the fortress had, therefore, a huge strategic meaning. The famous sea hero Peder “Tordenskjold” Jansen Wessel used Fladstrand often as his base.
During the Kanonbådskrigen (Cannon boat war) against England (1807-1814) the citadel was of central importance. Danish merchant boats used its shelter under its cannons against the English fleet, but the Krudttårnet was also used as a base and regional main quarter for cannon boats in between their attacks on British boats.
Originally the tower was placed free on an isthmus, which stuck out into the Kattegat. Later, after the tower had lost its defense strategic importance, this changed drastically. The fishing village Fladstrand became the merchant and industrial town of Frederikshavn with an according harbor. The sea around the old citadel was filled up and the Krudttårnet was squeezed between the towns new big working places – modern shipyards.
That is why, in 1974, the decision was made to move the Krudttårnet to its current position, 270 meters from its original place. The tower was moved in one piece, on tracks, which had never before been attempted and was successfully completed within 13 months.
On August 5, 1976, the Krudttårnet was reopened for visitors.
This morning the Krudttårnet was open for visitors and volunteers, dressed up in historical clothes, offered some guidance within the building. On the first floor we found an exhibition explaining the history of the area and the history of the Krudttårnet, unfortunately, signs were only written in Danish so I translated as good as I could for Solo. On the second floor, we found the cannons, from the time of King Christian IV, as well as a cannoneer explaining their usage and history.
The cannons are still fired occasionally for celebration purpose. We were told that a few years back, a university professor told the cannoneers that he would be able to fire the cannons much faster than they were. So they set up for a test of his thesis.
While the cannoneers made sure to wet and clean the barrel thoroughly after every cannon fired, the professor skipped this after the first shot. Which of course let him fire his second shot faster than what the cannoneers could manage. Unfortunately, this also led to the explosion of the cannon, and for the professor to lose some of his fingers in the explosion.
So fast is not always the best way.
Today’s cannoneer advised us to pay a visit to Nordre Skanse, where we would find a defense facility originally built by German forces between 1627 and 1629 when Jutland was part of Germany for a short period and the Germans needed to make sure that the Danish Navy would not seize the land back.
Nordre Skanse is only a short ride from the center of Frederikshavn, so of course, this was something we wanted to visit.
In the early evening we ended our tour through history with a visit to Bangsbo Fortress, being built during the German occupation of Denmark in the 1940s, as a part of the Atlantic Wall defense system, and used after the war by the NATO to control the ship traffic into and out of the Baltic Sea.
For me, it is always depressing to see the bunkers and other reminders of WWII — so many people misguided and so many who lost their lives for the wrong reasons, not to mention so many ill doings by a state whose leaders rather committed suicide than to stand up for their wrong doings.
But if used for the right purpose — education of what happened and why it happened as well as preventing this kind of history from repeating itself — these relics have a value of their own.
Of course, this being the last day of our bike ride through Scandinavia leaves me with a sad feeling too. Tomorrow we will go back to Norway on the Stena Saga and in just a few days Solo is going to return to the U.S.A.
A great cycling adventure comes to its end…but we already have some ideas for more adventures in the future, which I am looking forward to already. Not to mention we have a few days left to explore Oslo, so the adventure has not ended just yet!
You can find more photos from Denmark on my website.