A Visit to Old-World Møgeltønder
Even if you have to skip Tønder itself, head for the little village of Møgeltønder, only 4km (2 1/2 miles) west of Tønder via Route 419. Bus no. 66 from Tønder runs here about every hour during the day (trip time: 10 min.).
Once at Møgeltønder, you'll find a charming old-world village, which filmmakers have called "a fairy-tale setting." Its long and narrow street, Slotsgade, is lined with low gabled houses, some with thatched roofs and most dating from the 1700s. The street is also planted with a double row of lime trees, making it even more colorful and photogenic.
At the end of the street stands a small castle, Schackenborg Slot, which can be viewed only from the outside, as it's owned by the Queen of Denmark and currently functions as the principal residence of her younger son, Prince Joachim. After his marriage to Hong Kong-born Alexandra, in 1995, the couple lived here until their divorce. Today, Prince Joachim wanders the lonely castle alone, although many attractive young women write him daily, volunteering to become his "new princess." The king presented Field Marshall Hans Schack with the castle in 1661, in the wake of his victory over the Swedes during the battle of Nyborg. Although security is tight and you can't visit the interior of the castle, you can tour the moat-enclosed grounds that begin on the opposite side of the street. June, July, and August, two 30-minute tours are conducted daily at 2 and 2:30pm. The price is DKK30 ($5.10/£3) for adults, DKK25 ($4.30/£2.50) for children 5 to 15, for the carefully supervised trek. The rest of the year, visits to the gardens are not possible.
At the other end of the Slotsgade stands the 12th-century Møgeltønder Kirke, Slotsgade (tel. 74-73-89-40), which contains frescoes -- the oldest from 1275 -- under the chancel's arch. In the chancel itself are some mid-16th-century frescoes. The altarpiece is probably early 16th century, and you can also see such treasures as a Romanesque font, a late-17th-century baroque pulpit, and a church organ made in Hamburg in 1679. The admission-free church is open daily from 8am to 4pm, closing at 3pm October to March.
A Trip to Løgum Kloster & Memories of a Monastery
In sad decline today, our final excursion is through a marshy plain to an abbey that knew its greatest days in the Middle Ages. Journey to the hamlet of Løgum, 18km (11 miles) north of Tønder. (From Tønder, follow the road signs to Ribe, then to Kolding and, a bit later, to Løgum Kloster.) Løgum Kloster (Løgum Abbey), Klostervej (tel. 74-74-41-65), once competed with Tønder as a lacemaking center. Built in what was then an uninhabited area, the abbey -- today an ecclesiastical administrative center -- was founded in 1173. Once impressive in size, the abbey today has been reduced to its east wing, with the sacristy, library, chapter house, and church remaining. Constructed from red brick, the abbey church grew and changed over a period of years from 1230 to 1330. It was built when Europe was changing from the Romanesque to the Gothic style, so the abbey reflects both periods of architecture. In the nave are traces of frescoes, and other treasures include a winged altar and elegantly carved choir stalls from the early 16th century, and a reliquary with wings and a Gothic triumphal cross (ca. 1300). Opposite the main building stands a 24m (79-ft.) tower with a carillon named in honor of King Frederik IX. It strikes a concert every Wednesday at 8pm (only June-Aug).
Between May and October, the admission-free abbey church can be visited Monday to Saturday 10am to 6:30pm; Sunday noon to 5pm. The rest of the year it's open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sunday noon to 4pm.