Once, Strynø was mainly inhabited by sailors. This is very evident when you visit the village Strynø By where the small idyllic shipmaster’s residences from the second half of the 19th century tell the story of the golden age of the Danish merchant fleet on the seven seas.
Just like today, the harbour of Strynø was too small to have room for unloading or ship fitters who could service the large sailing ships. But the ship owners on the island Ærø did, and from the mid-19th century, they were constantly on the lookout for crew for the rapidly growing merchant fleet. This provided work for the Strynømen, as work on the large sailing ships meant they could keep their homes on the island. The population of the island kept increasing and reached its high point at the end of the 19th century with 800 inhabitants.
Take a walk through Strynø By and notice the nice houses that constitute the village centre: The sailors built many houses in Strynø By, as the village had a lot of vacant building plots after the relocation of the village farms in 1810. The sailors’ houses date from the period 1860-1910 when first ordinary sailors and later shipmasters and fishermen made their mark on the village.
One Strynøman per mast
The sailors of Strynø made their significant mark on Strynø – and they did the same on the ships on which they got their berths. Rumour has it that during the golden age of sailing ships, the inhabitants of the town Marstal had a saying that there should not be more Strynømen on board than there were masts on the ship.
It was the young who ventured out into the world aboard the large sailing ships. When they returned home, they had experienced the world and brought home tales and goods from all the corners of the world. And for some of them, the trip had also meant encountering love, which brought new inhabitants and new cultures to the island.
These days, the golden age of sailing ships and the time of the sailors on Strynø are long past, but the houses still stand. Today, around 200 people reside on the island, and it has both a grocery store, school, childcare centre and old people’s home. And with 18 different nationalities among the current islanders, Strynø is still an island with strong ties to the rest of the world.