The island of Ærø, where country roads wind through fertile fields, is aptly called the Jewel of the Archipelago. About 27 km (16 mi) southeast of Søby on the island's north coast, the storybook town of Ærøskøbing is the port for ferries from Svendborg. Established as a market town in the 13th century, it didn't flourish until it became a sailing center during the 1700s. Today Ærøskøbing is a bewitching tangle of cobbled streets lined with immaculately preserved half-timber houses. Stop by the red 17th-century home at the corner of Vestergade and Smedegade, considered to be one of the town's finest examples of its provincial architecture.
As you wander through town, you'll notice that many of the homes display a pair of ceramic dogs on their windowsills. Traditionally, these were used by sailors' wives to signal to outsiders—and, as rumor has it, potential suitors—the whereabouts of their husbands. When the dogs were facing in, it meant that the man of the house was home, and when the dogs were facing out, that he was gone.
Ærøskøbing at a Glance
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