Sleeping in the old prison on Ertholmene

Back in the days before democracy in Denmark about the worst punishment people could receive for stirring the mind of the people was to be sent to the prison on tiny islands Ertholmene far out in the Baltic sea

From prison to hostel

Watercolor and text by Frits Ahlefeldt

The cells are small, and the windows smaller in the large yellow building on Frederiksø, Ertholmene, that used to be a feared prison, where people would sit in years, not able to do much else but to stare out over the horisont, listening to the sounds of the ships and soldiers on the small islands

Today this has all changed and five of the cells has been turned into a tiny hostel, where visitors can sleep and get an idea about how it might have been back then when there were little chance of escape from the large, well protected building.

Today it is peaceful and gives visitors a chance to see the Ertholmene islands out of season, without spending the much higher price on the local inn.

I walk up the stairs and look into the room, where the most famous of the prisoners, Dr. Dampe, spent 15 years for publishing his thoughts about democracy in Denmark. Something that was honored with a life sentence here on Ertholmene. Making Dr. Dampe beg to be executed instead, but without luck, he had to stay here till times changed in Denmark…

I look around in the tiny, rough cell, there where not much room, just a simple bed and a fenced window. Suddenly the warm summer seems far away

Watercolor of the old prison on Frederiksoe, Ertholmene. Painting by Frits Ahlefeldt
Sideview of the old prison on Ertholmene called “the balloon” by the locals.(ballonen)

keywords: Ertholmene, Christiansoe, Christiansø, Baltic sea, architecture, buildings, art, akvarel, Denmark

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