There is something about mighty white cliffs. During World war II, the iconic White Cliffs of Dover was a symbol of freedom, of Britain as the bulwark against the nazi tyranny. The Seven Sisters, near Brighton, are no less spectaculars. The French have their Cote d’Albatre, the Alabaster coast.
The Danes have Stevns Klint, the place where the dinosaurs died – and then there is an even more spectacular cliff: Møns Klint.
Møns Klint is called “the place where Denmark was born”. It is the southeasternmost point of “main” Denmark, except Bornholm, where the sun rises above the land of hygge. The spectacular chalk cliffs are the first to receive the sun rays of a new day.
The chalk is kind of a national rock for the Danes, the literal foundation for their country (and the closest they get to actual rocks). Møns Klint, Stevns Klint and other klints – klint is the Danish word for cliff – are also the closes they get to real topography, in this otherwise flat country. Møns Klint rises to 128 meters, straight from the sea, and creates a rolling topography, making the island of Møn look almost like Tuscany. The geology and the biodiversity has awarded Møns Klint the status of an UNESCO special biosphere area.
Geocenter Møns Klint is a science and experience center, which tells the story of Møns Klint, its geology and life from the Cretaceous through the ice ages until today.
The chalk is a special rock. It is entirely made up of tiny-tiny, micron-sized shells from algae. In the Upper Cretaceous, an ocean covered what is the North Sea, and in it lived zillions of coccoliths, algae with shells like micro-sized Frisbees or shields. So many algae bloomed, that the sea must have been white at times. When the algae died, their shells sunk to the bottom of the sea. There, they stacked like an enourmous house of cards, which through time collapsed by compaction – pressure from rocks above – and by bioturbation; digging of worms and creepy-crawlies living in the sea bottom. Up close, the chalk is messy, lumpy, more grey than white.
Møns Klint’s chalk was laid down in a shallow sea around 70 million years ago, towards the end of the dinosaurs’ reign in the late Cretaceous – the name Cretaceous stems from the chalk itself. In this sea lived the dinosaurs’ contemporary marine badasses: the mosasaurs.
Mosasaurs ruled the oceans during the last part of the Cretaceous. They were up to 17 meters long, and looked like big lizards, but with dolphin-like body shape, and strong flaps instead of legs. At Møns Klint, their fossils are limited to occasional teeth, but they show that those seas were a dangerous place.
Much more common are the belemnites. The old norse believed that they were the tips of lightning bolts sent by the thunder god Tor, but they are really the rear shells of extinct, small ten-armed octopuses. In fact, the Geocenter at Møns Klint attempts to create the world’s largest collection of belemnites! Sea urchins are also common fossils.
If you want to try hunting for your own fossil, the Geocenter arranges for guided fossol collection trips – or you can walk the long stairs down to the pebble beach to hunt on you own, looking up at the mighty cliffs.
Then, also take a walk along the tops of the cliff, to enjoy the view of the white cliffs against the blue sea. Follow the marked paths with fences to the cliffs; the forest is vulnerable and the cliff edges unstable. Rock slides happen now and then, especially during the winter.
How to get there: Møns Klint is on Møn, the southeasternmost of the Danish islands, except Bornholm. By car, follow E47 from Copenhagen southwards to near Vordingborg, then road 59 to Stege, which continues as road 287 to Møns Klint. From Møns Klint Resort and Camping, follow signs towards Møns Klint. The last part of the road is a gravel road. Travel time is around 1 hr 45 mins.
By public transport, take the train from Copenhagen to Vordingborg, and then bus 660R to Stege and 678 to Møns Klint. Travel time ca 2 hrs 45 mins.