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Marstal Ærø.jpg
Marstal, largest town on the island
Denmark location aero.svg
Location Baltic Sea
Coordinates 54°53′N 10°20′E / 54.883°N 10.333°E / 54.883; 10.333Coordinates: 54°53′N 10°20′E / 54.883°N 10.333°E / 54.883; 10.333
Area 88 km2 (34 sq mi)
Region South Denmark Region
Municipality Ærø Municipality
Largest settlement Marstal (pop. 2,315)
Population 6,669 (as of 2010)
Density 75.8 /km2 (196.3 /sq mi)

Ærø (Danish pronunciation: [ˈɛːʁœːˀ] - from Danish Ær = maple and Ø = island) is one of the Danish Baltic Sea islands, and part of Region of Southern Denmark. The western portion of the island was the municipality of Ærøskøbing; the eastern portion of the island was the municipality of Marstal. On January 1, 2006, they merged to form the Ærø municipality.

  • Population: 6,669
  • Area: 88 km2 (island); 91 km2 (municipality)
  • Length of coast line: 167 km (104 mi)


Ærø's length is about 30 km, its width up to 8 km. The landscape is dominated by hills, there are three small towns. The largest town is Marstal with its 2,340 inhabitants. Ærøskøbing has 978 and Søby 598. Fourteen villages and a number of farms are also to be found on the island.

Ærø is a popular destination for hiking and cycling, and provides beaches that also attract anglers and artists.

The town of Ærøskøbing represents the historic center of the island, with narrow lanes and picturesque houses from the 18th century; it remains the primary port for ferry transportation. Marstal, also known as "skipper" village, is home to many sailors and captains and currently serves as the island's shopping center.

southeastern part of Ærø

At the highest elevation of the island near Olde, there is the "peace bench" made by the sculptor Erik Brandt. It is intended to invite people to take a look around the island and the sea, pondering over world peace.

Located in the South-of-Funen Archipelago, Ærø is favoured by particularly fine weather. The number of sunshine hours on Ærø is higher than the average for the rest of Denmark, and the year-round temperature is also a few degrees higher than the national average.


Flag of Ærø
Town of Ærøskøbing
Bregninge church

Archaeological excavations provide evidence of settlements going back to before 8000 BC.[1] There are some burial mounds on the island, as well as an old Ting place. Relics of antiquity are found all over the island. Burial mounds, passage graves, and dolmens bear witness of human activity through more than 10,000 years.[1]

As for its more recent history, the period of the duchies is of special interest. During this period — from the 14th century to the year 1864 – Ærø was united and separated, alternately, into a number of enclaves.[1] Ærø was outside the tariff wall of the Kingdom, leading to flourishing smuggling which was a way of living for many of Ærø's inhabitants.

In 1629 the main town of Ærøskøbing burnt down in a great fire.[1] There was no other disaster of comparable scale. In 1750 the island, previously split into exclaves of numerous duchies, was united as single administrative district.[1]

Until 1864, Ærø was part of the Danish Duchy of Schleswig – the area of Schleswig/Southern Jutland is now divided between Denmark (Northern Schleswig) and Germany (Southern Schleswig). King Christian IV's cousin, also named Christian, was the Duke of Ærø from 1622 to 1633, and lived with his concubine Cathrine Griebels at Gråsten Manor House.[1]

When the Duke died, a banner was found at Gråsten composed of nine pieces of cloth and in three colours – body colour, sea green, and golden yellow. This banner has provided the inspiration for the flag of Ærø which is seen today all over the island. When Duke Christian died, Ærø was distributed among four of his brothers, and this offers one explanation of why two towns developed in the island, Ærøskøbing and later on Marstal, and why each came to be in their own "country".

Gråsten Manor House was abolished in 1766 and the buildings were demolished.[1] The name of Gråsten is still alive today in the farmhouse that stands almost on the same spot as the ducal manor. Gråsten of today offers bed and breakfast accommodation.

In 1750, Ærø was united,[1] and has not since been separated. This is marked by the memorial stone at Olde Mølle (English = Ancient mill). At the union, the old Code of Jutland from 1241 was applied and even today some of those rules are still valid. In recent history, the fight for survival as an outlying area is the most important element. The solidarity between the inhabitants of Ærø was clearly shown in the year 2000, as a movement among the inhabitants saved Marstal Maritime School from closing down. More than 2,000 inhabitants travelled to Copenhagen to protest against this, and the politicians were convinced. The Maritime School survived.


Solar heating park, Marstal

Ærø has the world's largest solar power plants, with an area of 18,365 m2. It provides a third of Marstal's power consumption.

Ærø is endeavouring to become self-sufficient in energy, and in 2002 a figure of 40% self-sufficiency in renewable energy was reached. The initiatives have attracted high international recognition and Ærø is considered to be one of the world's leaders in the field. As of January 2013, the solar plant covers an area of 33,300 m2 as a result of an extension under the Sunstore 4 project.[2]

Ærø's three district heating systems of solar collectors have won international acclaim. With the recent expansion, the system in Marstal is now the world's largest solar collector system for heating.

In 2002, three modern wind turbines were erected. The wing tip of these turbines is 100 m (330 ft) above the ground and between them the mills cover 50% of the island's electricity consumption.

28th of Janary 2015 - The EU Horizon 2020 administration has confirmed that the 17 million € application for a demonstration E-ferry is now in the state of Grant Agreement - meaning that the partners in the Horizon application now have 3 months to finish contracting for the subsidies. The objective of the Green Ferry Vision is to perform a feasibility study for the design, production and operation of an innovative low weight ferry for cars and passengers - a ferry only powered by green electricity stored on batteries on board. The ferry design will be well beyond state-of-the-art when it comes to charging powers and capable operating distance. The ferry is to be completed in 2017 with Søby Værft as contractor.


Ærø is the only island among the larger Danish Baltic Sea islands that is not connected with a bridge, and road traffic is generally low. There are car ferry lines to Als, Funen and Langeland. Ærø also lies within a popular sailboat area, the South Funen Archipelago. A small airport with grassed runways is located near Marstal.

Notable residents[edit]

Cultural references[edit]

  • In his novel We, The Drowned Marstal native Carsten Jensen describes the maritime history of the town where the men were expected to go to sea and the women to be left behind, an epic tale spanning four generations, nearly one hundred years, and two world wars.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Aeroe History". AeroeIsland.com. Retrieved 2008-12-24. 
  2. ^ "Beskrivelse af energisystemet i Marstal Fjernvarme", Marstal Fjernvarme. (Danish) Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  3. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607–1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 

External links[edit]