Travel restrictions still limited our travel destinations, so in July 2020 we decided to travel domestically and head for the Danish town of Aarhus on the Jutland peninsular. While Aarhus is a great town I planned to visit a very special ship about an hour outside town – The frigate ‘Jylland’.
Old ships have always captured my imagination and I have visited HMS Victory in Portsmouth, HMS Belfast in London and USS Constitution in Boston. However, the Danish frigate – famous for its participation in the Battle of Helgoland in 1864 – has always been on my bucket list. This historical ship was launched in 1860 has survived battle, seizure, refugees, sinking and several scrapping attempts. Today it has been turned into an open-air museum and can be found in the harbour at Ebeltoft.
After buying the tickets at the gift shop visitors can go through a small exhibit explaining the ship’s birth, life and near-death. Here you get the basic history and some info about the conservation effort – you can even leave some coins in a treasure chest to help preserve the ship. Outside is an open yard where the ship displayed in a giant drydock. The setup is similar to that of the clipper ‘Cutty Sark’ or ‘HMS Victory’ in England.
After walking around the ship you venture down to the bottom of the hull to see the frigate’s giant screw and copper plating. A ship’s size really comes into focus when you stand below it and look down along its curved hull.
The tour inside the ship starts in the very depths of the frigate. You enter through a small hatch and move directly into the cargo hold. Light shine down through a window at deck level and you slowly venture up through the ship along narrow stairs.
Like all naval ships from the 19th century the gun deck with rows of cannons are especially awe-inspiring. Even though it is nothing compared to HMS Victory’s three gun decks, it is still possible to imaging the broadside Jylland was able to present to it’s Prussian and Austrian opponents during the war of 1864.
The old canons might be a brutish and simple weapon, but some guns are gilded with intricate coats of arms and manufacture symbols.
I personally enjoy visiting every old naval ship I come across and for once it was nice to visit an old legend from my own country’s less than glorious military history. Denmark lost the war in 1864, but the frigate ‘Jylland’ won the naval conflict against the Prussian and Austrian fleet. A small victory that meant it has now been saved for present and later generations as the last of an old breed of naval ships – the last hurra to a proud maritime Danish tradition.
While the Frigate is a bit outside Aarhus it is still easily accessible with either car or public transport. Bus 123 from central Aarhus takes about an hour and stops near the centre of Ebeltoft and the harbour where the frigate is in drydock.