Sunday, September 22, 2013


About a week ago, Mom went to this flea market place, and she started looking at old postcards.  She found some really old ones that were all stained and bent, and they had pictures of a place called Aalborg.  Mom did not know if this city was in Norway, Sweden, or Denmark, but she decided to buy the postcards.  They cost fifty cents apiece, and Mom bought six of them, even though there was not a single dog in any of the pictures.  Then she brought them home and said I should find out where Aalborg was and write about it in my blog.

Aalborg in 2010; Photo by Tomasz Sienicki

I wasn't too excited about this assignment because it turned out that Aalborg is in Denmark, and none of my relatives or Mom's are from that country.  But Mom says that sometimes we have to stretch our minds and learn something new.  So anyway, the first thing I learned was that Aalborg was founded by the Vikings back in about 700 C.E.  It is located on a strip of water called the Limfjord, that gives ships a way to get through from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea.  This is a really good place to make a harbor, and it is why Aalborg became a big shipping center and industrial city.  By 2013, the entire municipal area of Aalborg had grown to 203,448 people, which made it the 3rd-largest city in Denmark, after Copenhagen and Aarhus.

Aalborg is up near the top of Denmark

Aalborg's main exports are grain, cement, and spirits.  The city has also become a cultural center, with a symphony orchestra, opera company, museums, and universities.  The weather is fairly cool all year long in this part of Denmark.  The average high temperatures are around 68ºF during the summer, and 27º to 36ºF in January and February.  The coldest temperature in winter almost never goes below 14ºF.

St. Budolfi Church

Anyway, now I'm going to talk about the postcards that Mom bought.  These first ones show St. Budolfi Church, which is a cathedral church for the Lutheran Diocese of Aalborg in north Jutland.  On the back of one of these postcards, someone wrote in English "The church dad belonged to."  This is the only writing on any of the postcards, so I think they were originally bought by someone who wanted to remember scenes of Aalsborg.  Maybe this person grew up there, or maybe they visited there with their dad, who grew up there.  Two of the postcards have little holes in the corners, so you can see that they were pinned on a board or wall.

St. Budolfi Church
The building on the right is a post office.

Christian missionaries probably arrived in Aalborg during the 9th century.  The first churches were very small and built of wood, so they aren't around anymore.  The St. Budolfi Cathedral that is still there today was built at the end of the 14th century.  It was built around the original St. Budolfi church.  The church got its name from St. Botolph, who was an English abbott and saint.  He was a holy and learned man in Anglo Saxon England, and he was the patron saint of farmers and sailors.

This is a street named Bispensgade.  It is one of the two best streets to go shopping, and the other one is called Gravensgade.  You can see in these pictures that the ladies are all wearing their nice dresses and big hats because that's what ladies did in those days when they went shopping.  Mom guessed that the photos might be from 1912 or so, but she asked Aunt LaDene, who knows more about fashion styles.  Aunt LaDene did some research and said she thought the pictures were taken a little later, like 1917, because the ladies were starting to let their ankles show.

Bispensgade Street

In the second photo of Bispensgade Street, you can see a round, white tower sticking up behind the buildings.  I learned that this building is in Nytorv Square, which is the historic center of the city.  Pedestrians, cyclists, and buses are allowed there, but not cars.  Nytorv Square has many shops and professional services, a community center, and the main library.

A modern view of Bispensgade Street

Nytorv Square.  Photo by Thomasz Sienicki

In the photo below, you can see a great big house in the center with lots of gables.  It is called Jens Bangs Stenhus, which means "Jens Bang's Stone House."  This house is located on Østerågade, another street in Nytorv Square.  It was built in 1624 in the Dutch Renaissance style by a rich merchant named Jens Bangs.  This house is thought to be the finest privately-owned Renaissance building in the country.  In Mr. Bangs' time, the first story of the house was used for trading booths and warehousing.

Jens Bangs Stenhus

After the death of Jens Bangs in 1644, the house had several inheritors and owners.  But finally in 1671, a pharmacist named Johannes Friederich bought the building and opened a pharmacy called Swaneapotek (Swan Pharmacy) there.  Ever since then, a pharmacy has been in the building.  Now there is also a small pharmacy museum that the public can visit.  It has much of the original Swaneapotek collection in it.

I think you could fit a LOT of basenjis in this house!
Here's one last postcard of old-time Aalborg.  It shows some men standing around on Vejgaard Street  chatting, by a cart that has no horse to pull it.  On the sidewalk, there seem to be some sledges or something, and on the other side of the street, there's a warehouse.  These men do not really look like they are planning to do any work soon.  Maybe it's Sunday in this picture, and the bells of St. Budolfi Church are ringing.

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