Tag Archives: legend

Stroll along Sonderborg Havn

Sonderborg Havn (Harbour) is a major feature of the town of Sonderborg. It comes alive especially in the summer months when the weather entices the people in town to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere along the water. If you are looking for something more than some relaxation, this is a bit of what you can see along the water.

Sonderborg Castle

Sonderborg castle is the dominating feature of the south end of Sonderborg Harbour. It has been around since the 12th, protecting Jutland from attacks from the south. A visit to the castle is a good way of learning a bit more about the history of the area (though not all displays are translated into English). (#2/99 of Things to do in Sonderborg)

Fru Jensen

Every afternoon you can buy fish straight off the Fru Jensen fishing boat moored besides Sonderborg slot. (#5/99 of Things to do in Sonderborg).

The Legend of King Christian’s Table

The legend goes that while Christian the 2nd was imprisoned in the castle, he continuously walked round a table dragging a finger around its edge. Over time, a groove to form in the table top as a result of the constant rubbing along the edge. Although the story is simply a legend, you can see a statue called “The Myth” representing this along the harbour.

Ringrider Track

The ringrider tradition is a popular tradition in southern Jutland. You can see an old ringrider track at the side of Sonderborg castle.

Ringrider Monument

With Sonderborg having the biggest ringrider festival in Denmark, it is apt that a monument to this tradition is placed in such a central location.

Old Castle Wall

If you looked at the models of the castle in the first display cases in Sonderborg Castle you may have noticed that the castle was originally on an island, surrounded by thick walls with towers at the corners. You can still see remnants of a tower here, as well as bits and pieces of the wall on the other side.

Der Butt im Griff

The “Flounder in control” is a sculpture by 1999 Nobel Prize recipient in Literature, Gunter Grass. This 2.3m high bronze sculpture was opened in 2004. The same sculpture can also be seen in Lubeck and Dusseldorf.


There are 5 restaurants just across from the harbour where you can savour a wide variety of food, from Argentinian and Asian to Danish, fish and beef.

Ice-Cream Kiosk

Having walked this far around the harbour you deserve a treat. And what better place to get it than at the ice-cream kiosk just on the water front. If ice-cream is not your thing you can also get a beer and relax on the benches and tables right next to the kiosk.

Train Tracks

Nowadays, the train stops at Alsion, on the Jutland side of Sonderborg. However, the train used to cross the King Christian bridge from Jutland onto Als. Evidence can still be seen close to the harbour, where there are still remnants of the train tracks left embedded in the road.

Did you Know…? Sonderborg Slot

In February the monthly event by Cafe International was a guided tour of Sonderborg Slot. Michael and I had already visited this castle before we even moved to Sonderborg, but the place is worth more than one visit.

So what did I learn about Sonderborg Slot on this visit?
1. Sonderborg castle is on an island
You might not realise this, but as the castle developed over time it became progressively more connected to the mainland. A model of the earliest castle clearly shows that the area was originally an island. As you move sequentially through time  the models then show how the island and connecting paths grew over time as the castle was enlarged.

Sønderborg slot through times

2. The legend of the table
If you have ever heard of it: I’m sorry, but it’s not true, even if there is a painting of it in the castle. If you have not…then maybe never mind? (*still curious?)

3. Urine Pots
There is a small urine pot on display. On the bottom of it is an image of two local dukes and a text saying “You two are a miss. Therefore all Danes will on you piss“. I wonder what the pot did to deserve its fate…

Pee on the dukes

4. A thief for a museum director
No… not the current one! Nevertheless, a baptismal font that stands in one of the rooms stood for a long time outside a casino, where it came to the attention of the museum director of the time. The museum director could not persuade the casino owners to part with it, and he did not have the money to buy it. So one night he hired some strong men to help him steal it. The police tried to find the culprit but the mystery was not solved, until he removed it from storage where he had kept it and put it in the museum, together with a written account of what had happened to it. You can now see it on display on the 1st floor.

An old font from the castle

5. To the captors, with love – the prisoner.
Although Christian the 2nd was imprisoned in the castle, it doesn’t seem to have been too much of a hardship! He could buy whatever he wanted and had the best money could buy, from lobster and salmon, to beer and wine. He even kept the people at the local pub happy by every so often buying a round of beer to everyone.

6. Overeaten? Solution!
A solution might be to manage your portions and intake. However, this was not the solution rich people took in the middle ages! Instead the guests would have a feather at their disposal, so that when they were full they could summon a servant, tickle the back of their throat, and you can guess what happens! Of course, space in their bellies would not be a problem then!

These were some of many titbits we heard from Arne, the museum’s education officer, during the tour. Unfortunately there are no regularly organised tours that I know of, but I hope that if you are a large enough group something can be organised.

*Still curious about the legend? Here it goes: The legend of the table states that while Christian the 2nd was imprisoned in the castle, he continuously walked round a table dragging a finger around its edge. Over time, a groove to form in the table top as a result of the constant rubbing along the edge. You can see a statue called “The Myth” representing this opposite the castle.

The mysterious moving coffins

If you understand Danish you should watch the YouTube clip below where museum director Inge Adriansen tells the story and read more here. If not read on for the English version.

When the first wife of Duke John II (Hertug Hans den Yngre) died in 1586 he created a tomb by the chapel in Sønderborg Castle. The tomb was protected by a beautifully decorated portal that depicts the 14 children he had with his first wife – he had 23 children in all. Behind the door stands the coffins of 46 descendants of the dukes of Sonderborg, Augustenborg and Glücksborg, the last is the line of the current Danish Royal family. The last to go in was duchess Louise Augusta of Augustenborg in 1843.

Photo: Museum Sønderjylland – Sønderborg Slot

The tomb is not open to the public so the video above gives you a rare peak inside. The bodies in the coffins are embalmed and last time they had the tomb of John II open was in 1969 where the coffins were restored. “They are in more or less good condition. As you would after lying around in dry air for 400 years” says Inge Adriansen.

For many years they thought John II was haunting the castle. The coffins did not stay put – they moved around! Once a year the tomb is opened up to get a spring clean and whenever that happened they could see in the dust that the coffins had moved from where they were the year before. Sometimes it had moved 10 cm, sometimes more. The cleaning people were afraid of working in the tomb alone so Inge Adriansen always had to go with them. When they asked her why the coffins had moved she said it was because the dead had hurried to jump back in the coffin when the sun rose. The cleaning personnel didn’t see the joke in that story. Since the castle did not have an explanation they chose to keep quiet about the moving coffins.

They finally figured out what was causing the moving coffins the year they had not moved. Suddenly one year in the 90s the coffins stood exactly were they had stood one year earlier. As Inga Adriansen cycled home from work that day she saw a Booze Ferry (Spritbåd) turn in the harbour and it dawned on her. In the 70s and 80s loads of ferries were stopping in Sønderborg and they docked by the pier right next to the castle. Up to 15 boats would dock every day and they bumped into the pier as they moored so the vibrations carried on into the tomb of the castle causing the coffins to move up to more than 10 cm in a year.

So there you have it. No ghosts were moving the coffins around. But I wonder what other stories the good people of the castle haven’t told us…