Ertholmene – Christiansø

Collection of watercolors from an ancient and huge naval fortress, build of pure huge granite blocks – On a couple of tiny islands, with a natural harbor between, far out in the Baltic Sea

Watercolors from Christiansø Naval Fortress

Watercolors and text by Frits Ahlefeldt

I’ve been visiting and painting watercolors on Ertholmene through the last 30 years. It is a tiny place on more than 1.5 billion year old granite rocks. It is so small you can walk the whole of the islands behind the huge and long granite defence walls in less than half an hour.

Christiansoe is a place that hasn’t changed much since more than 800 soldiers were based here, centuries ago. Watching out behind the many canons for enemy ships that might appear on the horisont

Today Chrisiansoe naval fortress is a quiet and highly protected historical place, with an fairytale and even, sometimes hunting feel. A place, where when the mist suddenly covers the islands you can almost hear how vikings raided, pirates have roomed, soldiers fought and prisoners died, or begged to be killed, to end their misery.

But Ertholmene is also a place where artists came from distant places to paint, and where the locals invited to dance and folk music in the quiet summer nights. It is in all ways a magical place – like no other place I’ve been

Here are a few of my hundreds of watercolor paintings from Christiansoe:

See all my watercolor blog posts in Ertholmene category here

  • Watercolor of small granite cottage on Ertholmene Frederiksø. Painting by Frits Ahlefeldt The old woman under the roof - I never really got to know a lot about her, the old lady living up there under the roof in the small hut. Just saw her talking to herself, or maybe it was to the island, as she crawled out of the small door, and down the stairs. Every morning she would go swimming and often collect things along the way
  • Watercolor of granite hut on Christiansø. Ertholmene. Denmark Seals singing at the most eastern hut in Denmark - Most of the small granite huts are on the west side of the island Christiansø, but one is far away from all the others. Only a few hundred meters from the most Eastern point in Denmark, where the Grey seals gather to sing under the moon
  • Watercolor of "vagten" a large yellow building on Christiansø, Ertholmene. Painting by Frits Ahlefeldt Hiding a powerstation - On the Ertholmene islands every modern thing like power is hidden or integrated into existing structures. This is the look of the building housing both the power station, toilet and bathing facilities for both campside and sailors - even the people in the small huts use the facilities here
  • Ertholmene - Christiansø, Detail rocks and small granite hut build together. Watercolor by Frits Ahlefeldt Granite huts and rocks - On Ertholmene the tiny granite huts and shacks are in some places build together with the rocks, in ways where the rocks often continues somehow inside the architecture
  • The school on Christiansø. Ertholmene. Painting by Frits Ahlefeldt The school Ertholmene - I used to know the old school teacher on the islands and often came by to drink coffee and talk about all things from the islands to watercolors and philosophy and on top of the school lived the most famous artists on the islands... Mogens and Dominique
  • Ertholmene watercolor by Frits Ahlefeldt Sketching huts into the village - Sitting in the wind on Ertholmene and painting I never quite made it that day, didn't finish this painting... maybe I'd come back here, I thought, closing my watercolors
  • Ertholmene watercolor by Frits Ahlefeldt Small stone cottage under the walls - This is one of the smallest stone huts on the Ertholmene islands, situated all by itself, there is just a door and a single window, but close by a great bathing place between the rocks, when the wind is right
  • watercolor painting of the vegetable gardens on Christiansoe, Ertholmene. Denmark. Painting by Frits Ahlefeldt Self Sustaining on Ertholmene - Life on the small, poor isolated islands was tough in the old days and being self-sustaining as much as possible was important - growing vegetables became a tradition the locals still master
  • Watercolor of the old prison on Frederiksoe, Ertholmene. Painting by Frits Ahlefeldt 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
  • Painting of a old boathouse turned into a tiny Herring factory on Ertholmene. Frederiksø. Denmark. Watercolor by Frits Ahlefeldt Herring factory in old boathouse - Inside the boathouse is the last marinated herring factory on Ertholmene. Just a tiny place where a handful of locals listen to the radio, while preparing the fish as it has been done in generations

Watercolors from an ancient naval fortress

The huge an unique naval fortress of ChristiansOe on Ertholmene, consist of more than 2km. connected huge granite bolder fortress walls, build by prisoners, hundred of years back, working with their hands, under so rough conditions that many of them died..

The defense walls and cannon bastions raises several meters in most places and there are also two tall and old round defence towers, and a tiny soldiers living quarter. A place that became a unique small fishing village, for around 150 years ago.

Ertholmene ( also called Christiansø ) is a Danish group of tiny granite islands in the Baltic Sea, around an hour by ship from the larger island “Bornholm”, with a natural harbor between two of the largest ones. The islands are still owned by the army, directly under the Danish state.

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