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Ærø (from Danish Ær = maple and Ø = island) is one of the Danishmarker Baltic Seamarker islands, and part of Region Syddanmarkmarker. 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: 6,863 (island 2006); 6,873 (municipality)
  • Area: 88 km2 (island); 91 km2 (municipality)
  • Length of coast line:


Ærø's length is of about 30 km, its width up to 8 km. The landscape is dominated by hills, there are three small towns. At the latest census, the island was inhabited by a total of 7,050 people. The largest town is Marstalmarker with its 2,340 inhabitants — Ærøskøbing has 978 and Søby 598. 14 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 fishermen and artists.

The town of Ærøskøbingmarker represents the historic center of the island, with narrow lanes and picturesque houses from the 18th century. Main port is Marstalmarker, the economic center of the island is Marstalmarker.

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 about 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 of the rest of Denmark, and the year-round temperature is also a few degrees higher than the national average.


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 Alsmarker, Funenmarker and Langelandmarker. Ærø also lies within a popular sailboat area, the Sydfynske Øhav (Southern Funen Archipelago). A small airport with grassed runways is located near Marstal.

Image:Marstal ferrow.3.jpg|M/F Marstal, 1999- Marstalmarker-RudkøbingmarkerImage:Ærøskøbing ferrow.jpg|M/F Ærøkøbing, 1999- Ærøskøbingmarker-SvendborgmarkerImage:Søby-færgen, Ærø.jpg|Søby-færgen, 1980- Søby-FåborgmarkerImage:Øen Søby.jpg|M/F Øen, 1993- Søby-Mommark


Solarheatings park, Marstal

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

Ærø is endeavouring to make the island self-sufficient in energy, and in 2002 a figure of 40% self-sufficiency in renewable energy was reached. The initiatives have entailed high international recognition and Ærø is considered as one of the world's leaders in this field.

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 above the ground and between them the mills cover 50% of the island's electricity consumption.


Flag of Ærø
Town of Ærøskøbing
Bregninge church

Archaeological excavations prove settlements going back to earlier than 8000 BC. 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.

In the new history, especially the period of the duchies is of interest. During this period — from the 14th century to the year 1864 — Ærø was united and separated, alternately, in a number of enclaves. 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. There was no other disaster of comparable scale.In 1750 the island, previously split in exclaves of numerous duchies, was united as single administrative district.

Until 1864, Ærø was part of the Danish Duchy of Schleswig — the area of Schleswig/South 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.

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 to 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 — Ærøskøbingmarker and later on Marstalmarker that each came to be in their own "country".

Gråsten Manor House was abolished in 1766 and the buildings were demolished. 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, and has not since been separated. This is marked by the memorial stone at Olde Mølle (English = Old 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 two thousand inhabitants travelled to Copenhagenmarker to protest against this, and the politicians were convinced. The Maritime School survived.

Image:Marstal-badehus.jpg|Beach hut, MarstalImage:Voderup klint Ærø.jpg|Voderup Klint cliffsImage:Ommel Strandbyen Havn.jpg|Strandbyen harbour, OmmelImage:Marstal Ærø.jpg|Marstal

Notable residents

See also


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