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Germany - Schleswig-Holstein

Keitum

A Karen Brown Recommendation
Keitum is the island’s prettiest village, an old Friesian settlement of squat, thatched cottages, lilac bushes, and tree-lined streets. Keitum’s low-slung houses are topped by thick roofs of reeds gathered from the tidal marshes, just the kind of house from which you would expect Hansel and Gretel to emerge. High garden walls protect against storm, flood, tides, and winds. On Museumweg, you can visit the Old Friesian House. Built in 1739 by a sailing captain, the red-brick old Friesian farmhouse passed into the hands of a 19th-century historian who assembled a history of the island. The house and the furnishings are such that a Friesian of two centuries ago would feel immediately at home. Next door the Sylter Heimatmuseum (folklore museum) contains collections of island seafaring memorabilia and coins, porcelain, and costumes dating back hundreds of years. Inspired perhaps by their forefathers, modern artisans have set up their shops in nearby houses. (10 am–noon and 2–5 pm, April to October, closed Tuesdays.) As you explore farther afield, you pass Keitum’s St. Severin Church, a landmark for seafarers since it was built seven centuries ago. The island’s days as an important maritime center are long past, yet once a year, on the eve of February 22, the islanders pile straw, reeds, and wood into a huge bonfire as a symbolic send-off for the island’s sailors.
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