The striated and steep limestone cliffs are dazzling white in the sharp summer sun and the sea glistens Mediterranean blue beneath my feet. It is beautiful as it suggests. But despite these views, it is not because of the beautiful nature that Stevn's Klint has become a world heritage site. Nor is it because of the church that dramatically partially collapsed into the sea from its cliff edge. Stevn's Klint takes you back to the era of the dinosaurs. Although you may not even notice it.
The dinosaurs and the fish mud
66 million years ago, the catastrophe of catastrophes happened here on Earth. A giant meteorite struck Mexico with tremendous force and the sky was quickly covered in black soot and ash that spread across the entire Earth's atmosphere like a black blanket. Nothing would be the same after this disaster. Over half of all life on Earth became extinct, including the dinosaurs. But how do you actually know this? Well, many thanks to the finds made here at Stevn's Klint.
You need to look very carefully. So carefully that most of us probably miss what caused the designation as a World Heritage Site. Think of the rocks at Stevn's Klint as a pancake cake, with layers upon layers of history and stories. Far down at the shoreline in one of the lower layers you will find the secret to the mass death of the dinosaurs, in a 66 million dark layer of "fish clay". The dark layer is filled with iridium, a substance that came from the asteroid that hit Earth. The layer also tells the story of how life on Earth was decimated – simply by the lack of remnants of life in the fish mud. All the way around the Earth - from Mexico to Denmark - the sky was black with soot and particles that made photosynthesis impossible and the possibility of life surviving on Earth much more difficult.
The traces of the disaster are found all over the world, but nowhere are the traces so readily available and the evidence so clear. Stevns Klint is a 66 million year old history book - if you only know where to start reading.
Sights along the coast
However, most of us visitors are not looking to investigate the historic fishing mud at Stevn's cliff. What attracts visitors today is mainly the nature experiences you get on foot. The 1,5 miles between the Holthug limestone quarry to the town of Rødvig is a single long and popular hiking trail, where various exhibitions and experience centers tell the unique history of the area along the way.
We had limited time, so we chose to visit the area by car and only walk shorter distances. We stopped at Boesdal limestone quarry, Stevn's lighthouse and at Højerup church - three completely different stops that show three different sides of Stevn's cliff.
Boesdal limestone quarry and Stevns Klint Experience
We started our visit with an easy walk around the Boesdal limestone quarry. The limestone quarry was in use until the end of the 70s, but today only chimneys and rusty old buildings remain. Here at the limestone quarry, you will find a mix of worn-out industrial history and undoubtedly the area's most beautiful stretch of coastline. Here also lies Stevns Klint Experience - a newly built experience center that will teach you a lot about the greatest disaster on earth and about the remains found in this unique area.
The former lime quarry meets you in everything from the white chalk paths to the striped slopes of the rocks. Unlike many of the other places to visit at Stevn's cliff, here there is direct access to the beach without stairs and it is wonderful to be able to experience the cliffs from two different perspectives.
We chose to walk south on the hiking trail at the upper edge of the cliffs. The open landscape means that the wind can really pick up if it wants to, but on this warm June day the winds are just fanning. It is said that you can see Sweden on the horizon on clear days, which sounds reasonable as the distance to Falsterbo is only around two miles. On our visit, however, rain clouds were lurking on the horizon, so we didn't see a glimpse of Skåne.
We parked the car at the experience centre, but it is only two kilometers from here to the harbor in Rødvig. Why not park the car there instead and walk here over the rocks if the weather permits?
For those who crave coffee, there is a café adjacent to the experience centre.
Højerup's old church
When Højerup's old church began to be built here on the coast in the 1250s, the church was at a safe distance from the edge of the cliffs. But already in the middle of the 19th century, the rocks had approached the walls of the church and the cliff towards the sea was now less than a meter away. The church was closed in 1910 for safety reasons, so when the church's cows fell into the sea in 1928, no one was probably too surprised. Today the church is open to visitors again and the choir replaced by a concrete wall. If you dare, you can go out onto a balcony over the cliff where the choir once stood.
A must when visiting the church is to take the stairs down to the beach. Here there are more rocks and less beach than at the limestone quarry, but the view up towards the church is worth the narrow and steep steps.
It started to rain when we came out of the church, so we took the opportunity to sit down under an umbrella and have an ice cream before walking north. There is both a small ice cream café and the Traktørstedet Højeruplund restaurant here, so it's a perfect place to refuel some energy.
From here it is 1,5 kilometers to Stevns lighthouse, a stretch with many delicious views of the sea, the beaches and the church.
Stevns lighthouse is located on the part of the coast where the drop height of the cliffs is the highest - a whopping 41 metres. In addition to climbing the lighthouse and looking out over the sea, here you can see some remnants from the days of the Cold War and visit a small (free) exhibition about world heritage and fossils.
How do I get to Stevns Klint?
Stevn's Klint stretches along Zealand's eastern coast south of Copenhagen. The hiking trail between Holthug limestone and Rødvig is 1,5 miles.
Dogs are welcome on a leash, but drones are not allowed. Bicycles are not allowed, you can only walk on the hiking trail.
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Do you want to read more about Stevn's cliff?
- Stevns Klint Experience
- UNESCO about Stevn's Klint
- Stevn's clit on Visit South Zealand & Møn
- Map of hiking trails and distances (pdf)
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