Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Møns Klint, the island of Møn, Southeast Denmark

The latest slide of the cliff

Møns Klint is an about 6 km long and 128 m high chalk cliff along the east coast of the island Møn. The thickness of the chalk is 60 meter. Behind the cliff continue the chalk flakes like a long range of hills to the west. The white chalk was deposited about 75 million years ago in a tropical ocean. The cliff is filled with fossils of the small and large animals and plants from prehistoric time. They can be found at the beach. It is a dangerous place both on the beach and the cliff because of slides which can happen unexpectedly, ane people walk there on their own responsibility.

The Danish Forest and Nature Agency owns ab. 510 hectare of forest and other nature areas at Høje Møn. In 1983 the whole of Møns Klint and the areas behind the cliff were listed as protected areas. The area has to be protected for its great natural value and ensure that visitors have access to nature. The most tangible condition of the preservation is that you are not permitted to pick the flowers. The objective is to prevent people from picking the many rare plants.

All EU Member States have identified a wide range of nature areas for special protection of rare nature types and species. Møns Klint and Høje Møn are such Nature 2000 areas.

The most impressive nature types and species that require protection are:
Cliffs or rocks near the coast.
Pastures and scrubland in more or less chalky soil (orchid localities)
Beech forest in chalky soil.
Peregrine falcons.

In the area around Møns Klint are no less than 300 animal- and plant species, which as endangered species are on the red list of international organisations.

Several birds are listed like the Peregrine Falcon

After 30 years absence from Denmark the peregrine falcon came back and has been breeding at the cliff since 2001.

The peregrine falcon's maximum speed:

Speed is the falcon's forte. If birds of prey were airplanes, then the eagles, the buzzards, the kites would be the gliders, and the falcons would be the jets. Estimates of the maximum speed of a falcon dive are as fast as 273 miles an hour (440 km/h) based on analysis of motion-picture footage of a falcon in full vertical dive taken by the Naval Research Laboratory in England in WWII. Most biologists, however, estimate the falcon's maximum velocity at 150 to 200 miles an hour ( 240 to 320 km/h), which is still faster than any other animal on earth.


The Klintekongen, (Cliff King) was awesome. He was a "mountain man" who ruled in his cave under the cliff. The brave young men, who went down to the cave to find him, never came back. And the girls who dared to look into the eyes of his son, the prince, became so enchanted that they danced with him into the cave and stayed there forever.

The Cliff King had a magical garden, which was only visible from a certain spot of the cliff. One of the fruit trees was always filled with the loveliest red apples. But if you plucked them, the whole garden disappeared - and did not appear again, until no human hand could get hold of the red apples.

There were many legends and myths around Møns klint, and they were the local people's explanation of the strange events and phenomenons which happened in this spectacular nature.

It was actually a local belief among people, and this superstition was not totally killed until the mid 1900s. Although science was interested in the cliff already in the 1800s, several priests and learned men wrote in 1948 a treatise about the cliff. They went all over the island of Møn and wrote down peoples' stories of how large rocks were seen transported to the cliff across the Baltic Sea by witches. Although the men were sceptical, peoples' words were accepted at face value, because there were lots of surviving stories like this. It became a part of their treatise.

How long will the tree survive?

History in the Middle Ages:

In the Edda is mentioned a locality which supposedly is Møn. According to legend two wights ruled the island. One at Høje Møn (Cliff King) the other was Green or Green Hunter at the western part of the island, where Grønsund ( Green Sound) and the Green Hunter's hill were said to be named after him.

During the Middle Ages Møn was of great economic importance caused by the herring fishing in Øresund and its placing close to the markets in Skåne. Both Stege and Borre were important towns. Stegeborg (castle) was one of the most important fortifications in the country. After Møn had been plundered by the Wends, the island became in Valdemar the Great's rule a starting point for war-expeditions to the Wend. In 1252 the German Henrik of Æmelthorp conquered Møn - and in 1289 the island was attacked by the outlaws (Marsk Stig and his men) and the Norsemen. During Lübeck's war against king Hans the town Borre was destroyed, while Stege, lead by Anders Bille, beat off the attack. In the Grevens Fejde (civil war) the people of Møn joined the rebels, and the citizens of Stege conquered the castle and destroyed it.

The ocean and the sky is one magnificent blue where the beautiful ship with emerald sails is floating almost like a ghost ship.

Østrigsk Hør(Linum austriacum)
, listed, a lovely blue flower.

Skov-Gøgeurt /Dactylorhiza maculata ssp. fuchsii

There are 43 orchid-species in Denmark and 20 of those orchids grow at Møn. They are all totally listed. Most are rare and endangered plants. It is not allowed to pluck or dig up those or other listed plants in the area.

The Geo-Center

Walking through a glacier from Ice Age.
The Geo-Center is located by the edge of Møns Klint. You may experience life in the chalky ocean, walk through a glacier in the Ice Age, take part in various activites. At the center is a tourist agency and a restaurant.

A row of small models of the cliff behind glass show a slide after frost.

click to enlarge

At the Geocenter you are received by a giant dinosaur suddenly peeping round a corner. Scary to children I imagine and almost scary to me at first sight! There is a children's corner and an education section about the geological history for children and young people. Some beautiful large turquoise models of the microscopic chalk crystals hang below the ceiling. You walk like through a tropical sea-world with sharks and other water-animals around you. The Geo-center experiences are numerous for the whole family.

photo: grethe bachmann & stig bachmann nielsen Naturplan Foto


Wanda..... said...

Your post about chalk cliffs of Møns Klint and the Geo-Center was very interesting Thyra.

Isn't it hard to fathom 75 million years!


Thyra said...

Thank you Wanda! It's an exciting place and I forgot all about the 75 million years. We are so insignificant compared to this. A split second.
Grethe `)

Teresa Evangeline said...

What an interesting post. I loved reading the history and the myths surrounding this magical place. The red apple tree sounds like the Garden of Eden story. Rocks moving from one place to another of their own volition, I can definitely get into that. They say that's how the pyramids were built, both Egyptian and Mayan. I am enamored of orchids and hope to raise some in the greenhouse here on my new property. Eventually. They are so beautiful and delicate. What an interesting place you've shared.

Thyra said...

Hej Teresa! I like the legends too, and I sometimes search high and low. The legends of Møn and of another cliff at Stevns (where is also a cliff king) are wellknown. Lots of myths and legends were collected by one man, who travelled the whole country to talk to old people, who told him legends which had been told from mouth to mouth, and he saved much material. It is now too late to find more. I should have asked my grandmother!