Bogense is one of the country’s smallest merchant towns and boasts an excellent location on a protrusion facing Lillebælt and Kattegat. The name translates to “Beech Headlands”. The town had its charter confirmed by King Erik Menved in 1288, but all signs point to it having been a merchant town before then as well.


The port was likely first constructed in 1828-30. Before then, ships had to drop anchor in open water and transport goods to and from the trade sites in flat-bound barges. This unique and narrow port now exists as an extension of Bybækken, which is the coastal town’s quaint, idyllic waterway.


Several sites along the river have had water mills, but only two of these can still be seen today: Neder Mølle at the entry road from Odense and Over Mølle at Harritslev Farm. After the town got its port, several merchant houses popped up in town. Only one of them, The Old Merchant House in Østergade, continues to be used to this day. The rest have been taken over by modern supermarkets, and Bogense remains a vibrant hub of trade.

Bogense Church

The oldest section of the church is also the town’s oldest building, dating from the early 1400s. It sits at a gorgeous location on the town’s highest hill, right out by the sea, enveloped by protected linden trees that are over 100 years old. Since then, it has developed by sprouting off into a larger building.


The tower can be seen at a great distance by seafarers, and has been used by sailors as a sea mark for centuries. Perhaps this is also why the church is devoted to the patron saint of sailors, St. Nicholas. Remains of an earlier church were discovered while renovating the church floor. This was likely from a wooden church in the Christian Viking Age or the early Middle Ages. Unlike most other Danish churches, its tower faces east.

The City of Mermaids

An old folk tale holds that out past Bogense, between the town and Æbelø, a deep trench stretches in towards the village of Jersore. In quiet and hazy weather, sailors could barely make out a row of house roofs. Hence it received the name “Fog street”. There was a merman who lived here.


Far inland there lived a princess of heavenly beauty, who sang in wistful and gorgeous tones. The merman fell utterly in love with her. Sadly, the princess was being kept locked up by the king, and she was guarded by a great and terrible dragon. This did not dissuade the merman, and he went to land, chasing the dragon away with his mighty fish tail and freed the princess, whom he took to sea. The two later had many children. Most took after the mother, and grew two legs. They became the ancestors of all Bogense people.


One of the children took after the merman, and got a fish tail. Naturally, she had to stay out there in the ocean. Today she sits at the very end of the Marinamolen breakwater, with her arms resting on two seals. She is the one we know as Elle.


Did you know…

That if you go down to the beach on a quiet evening, preferably after dark, and listen out towards Æbelø, you may be lucky enough to hear the mermaids sing their beautiful, beguiling song. Mermaids sing in a high and exquisite voice. It sounds a little like distant bird cries, out there in the dark.

– And that is all quite well-known.