Grenen is often considered the northmost landarea of Denmark proper (excluding the Faroe Islands and Greenland), but the northmost point is actually located 2,5 km northwest of Grenen on the beach of Nordstrand and is 700 m further north to be precise.
Grenen (English: The Branch) was named for its shape like a tree-branch, reaching out from the mainland.
The beach of Grenen appears in many of the works of the Skagen Painters, a community who gathered here every summer between 1875 and the end of the century. The area is also home to the Skagen Odde Nature Centre, designed by Jørn Utzon.
The Danish national road 40 passes through Grenen and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, with more than 1 million visitors each year.
Grenen is the junction point between the strait of Skagerrak (part of North Sea) and the Kattegat sea and the powerful turbulence of the colliding seas, have created a 4 km long curved sandbar above and below the waves stretching east. The reef is still active and have grown about 1 km northeast towards Sweden over the last century, resulting in a mean annual growthrate of about 10 m. The currents and turbulence are very strong and it is prohibited and can be fatal, to take a swim in the waters around Grenen.
The area surrounding Grenen is the place with the greatest amount of observed bird species, in all of Denmark. It is regarded as the best spot in Northern Europe, for observing birds of prey, during their migrations in spring. They often gather here, before crossing the seas to Bohuslän in Sweden. There are more migratory birds near Grenen, when the wind is from the south-east. If the wind is from the south-west, many birds choose a route across Funen and Zealand instead. The annual Skagen Birding Festival have been celebrated here since 2005, attracting more than a thousand visitors and participants.
Grenen is also considered as one of the best places in Denmark to observe sea mammals. Mereswine and common seals are very common here and grey seals can often be spotted here year round as well. As the area attracts many birdwatchers with binoculars, Grenen have also offered many sightings of whales. The species most often reported are dolphins (especially white-beaked dolphins), northern minke whale and orcas. There have been many isolated reports from Grenen on more exotic animals like walrus, hooded seal, etc..
Grenen have always been feared by sailors and many ships have run aground on the shallow reef through history. The first light signals was erected in the year 1561 on orders from King Frederik II after international pressure. It was not very effective and was not regularly attended, so in 1627 Skagen's Vippefyr, a coal- and wood-fired tipping lantern, replaced it until 1747, when Skagen's White Lighthouse was built. Nowadays the 44 m high Skagen's Grey Lighthouse, have done the job since 1858 and in 1956 the 26 m tall Skagen's West Lighthouse was added, making the heavy traffic in and out of Kattegat adequately safe.
- Skagens Gren Naturturist Nordjylland. (Danish)
Media related to Grenen at Wikimedia Commons