Grenaa or Grenå is a port city and market town in East Jutland with 14,251 inhabitants (2020). The city is Djursland's largest city and has a port with ferry routes to Anholt in the Kattegat and the Halland city Halmstad in Sweden. The city is also the easternmost city in Jutland. From Grenaa there are approx. 18 kilometers to Bønnerup Strand, 31 kilometers to Ebeltoft, 34 kilometers to Rønde, 55 kilometers to Randers and approx. 60 kilometers to Aarhus.

It is an old market town and natural trading center for eastern Djursland. The oldest districts are located around Skt. Gertrud's Church, and forms the center of the city. However, development has meant that surrounding villages have become part of the larger urban area, which means that the areas Åstrup, Dolmer, Bredstrup, Hessel, Fuglsang, Grenaa Havn and Grenaa Strand are today an integral part of the city.

Until the municipal reform in 2007, Grenaa was part of Grenaa Municipality, after which the city joined Norddjurs municipality, which belongs to the Central Jutland Region. The city is the capital of Norddjurs Municipality, and in 2015 was Denmark's 46th largest city.



The preposition is the Old Danish word grind, which either means 'gravel' or 'joint, gate'. The suffix is ​​the word high. The meaning is thus led-high or gravel-high. In the local pronunciation, the suffix has since been perceived as -å. An early name for the town, Grindhøgh, appears in King Valdemar's Land Register on a list of mortgaged or laid out estates in 1240.

The Middle Ages
Already in the Middle Ages, Grenaa was an important city. A "market town by Kolindsund" is mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus in connection with a naval battle on Kolindsund in 1165. However, there are doubts about both the market town concept and whether it is Grenaa at all that is being talked about. The town is mentioned by name as early as the year 1231. However, it is uncertain whether the town is already a market town here. In the so-called Jens Vitte's Letter from the end of the 13th century, published in the Letters of the Kingdom of Denmark, Jens Vitte is listed as a citizen of Grenaa, the oldest known. The oldest city privileges have been lost, but the oldest city seal can be dated around 1300. In 1445 the town was a market town, and was until the sanding of Djurså, the current "Grenaaen", an important port where ships could sail all the way to the city center. If you take the privileges, the city seal, the city's design and location, it indicates that the city arose as a market town at the turn of the 13th century, in the great city building period around 1050-1225. By the Square is Grenaa Church, which is first mentioned in 1426. The church is believed to have its origins back in the 14th century, and together with its location on the medieval town's topographical highest point, it forms a pattern that characterizes market towns from the 11th to the 21st century. . The medieval town's most important entrance was Vesterport, as it was next to Djurs Nørre Herred, which was the town's most important catchment area with many nearby villages. Sønderport also had a small significance, as this was the entrance for sailors who docked in the river harbor south of what is today Kanikkegade.

When it was granted market town privileges is not known. In 1441, the Crown's market town Grenaa and others were handed over on loan to Otte Nielsen Rosenkrantz. The oldest known privileges are from 1445, when Christoffer of Bavaria, due to the citizens' allegiance to the king and the kingdom, gave them duty-free except for Skanør, Falsterbo and other royal herring farms in the autumn (the privileges were later confirmed many times). In 1500, King Hans gave them the city freedom that no one at 2 miles could buy with the farmer without the citizens of Grenaa, and those who lived around the city and used its port, had to give 4 shillings of each ship of 10 loads or more, 2 shilling of each ship and 1 shilling of each boat, and that no one should share or pursue the citizens without their exchange with the law.

The Renaissance
On January 4, 1552, the king admitted to the city that, for the needs of its port and ship's bridge, it had to receive 2 shillings Danish from each domestic and 3 shillings from each foreign ship that came to the city. On April 3, 1571, the king ordered the sheriff of Kalø to depose the second mayor, whom the citizens had installed, as they had only had one before. In 1595, the king gave the citizens the freedom to pay city tax for the time being and to hold gunners and boatmen because of its inability to have the harbor repaired.

In its time, the city ran a fairly significant grain trade, especially in Norway, from the rather large catchment area. In the priest's report from 1623 it is said about the town: "The same market town has been a distinguished town in the old days, when sailing smstds. And the harbor was in power, is now greatly degraded for Flyvesand by a heath south up to the river, called Brohede". In the 17th century, however, it was set back a lot, especially by fires: in 1627, during the war, the eastern part of the city burned with the church (in a royal letter of June 1, 1576, travelers are forbidden to shoot in the city, as it causes fires). Also in the wars of the 17th century it probably suffered a lot. The church burned down in 1649, but it was rebuilt relatively quickly.

The city had a Latin school. By royal letter of 9 December 1558, the king's farm "Provstegaarden" in Grenaa is given as a school and residence for the schoolmaster.

From 1664 the Latin school was on Lillegade.

In 1686 the king allowed the consumption (taxes) to be used for the improvement of the harbor. In 1672 the market town had 453 inhabitants.


In the 18th century, the decline continued. From the Danish Atlas of 1768 it appears that the harbor was dilapidated, and that the town had previously "had 18 vessels, but shipping has thus decreased, that it now has only 7-8 vessels from 6 to 17 cargoes, which go partly to Copenhagen with Firewood, Cereals and Fats, partly to Norway with Cereals, Malt and Fats and take back Wood Cargo and Iron ". In 1769 the town had 702 inhabitants.

The Latin school was abolished in 1739.

The early industrialization
Only after the middle of the 19th century did the city start to grow, probably mostly due to the improved harbor, which meant that many who previously sought Randers were now drawn here. In 1850 the town had 1,099 inhabitants, in 1855 1,379 inhabitants, in 1860 1,636 inhabitants, in 1870 1,923 inhabitants, in 1880 2,423 inhabitants, in 1890 2,933 inhabitants, in 1901 3,257 inhabitants, in 1906 3,462 inhabitants and in 1911 3,734 inhabitants.

In 1835, a local man named Søren Kanne rescued several sailors from a shipwreck near Grenaa by, in a strong storm, taking his father's horses and swimming with them to the sunken ship. The rescuer subsequently became a hero in the city and was awarded a medal by King Frederik VI for his deed. Søren Kanne drowned in the river in 1860, but the town did not forget him, so he had a statue erected 88 years later.

In the period 1874-78, a new harbor was built right out by the Kattegat and together with the construction of the railway between Grenaa and Randers, it set in motion urban development and created progress.

Of factories and industrial plants there were around 1870: 1 steam distillery, 1 wool spinning mill and 1 iron foundry. Since the spring of 1856, the city got a printing house, where Grenaa Avis was published. A shipyard was built at the harbor in 1873.

Of factories and industrial plants there were around 1900: Grenaa Steam Weaving (built in 1893, at the turn of the century with about 100 workers and an annual production of about 25,000 pieces of cotton clothes), 1 iron foundry, 2 lime works owned by "De forenede Kalkværker", 1 book printing plant , with more.

In Grenaa, 2 newspapers were published: "Grenaa Avis" and "Grenaa Folketidende" ("Grenaa Dagblad" was published in Randers).

In Grenaa, 4 markets were held annually: 1 in March and 1 in July with horses and cattle, 1 in September and 1 in November with cattle and sheep. Market day was every Saturday.

By industry, the population in 1890 was divided into the following groups: 1,103 lived by trade and industry, 598 by trade and turnover, 388 by intangible activity, 71 were farmers, 84 fishermen, 12 seafarers, 21 gardeners, 556 lived by other occupations, 61 of their funds, 39 enjoyed alms.

The interwar period
During the interwar period, Grenaa's population was slightly increasing: in 1916 4,039, in 1921 4,537, in 1925 4,606, in 1930 4,651, in 1935 4,995, in 1940 4,786 inhabitants. At the same time, two suburbs emerged, Havnevej in Gammelsogn Municipality and Sønder Mølle in Ålsø-Hoed Municipality. They were incorporated into the market town per. April 1, 1941

At the 1930 census, Grenaa had 4,651 inhabitants, of whom 322 subsisted on intangible activities, 1,879 on crafts and industry, 864 on trade, etc., 305 on transport, 304 on agriculture, forestry and fishing, 436 on handicrafts, 441 were out of business and 100 had not stated source of income.

The post-war period
After World War II, Grenaa continued its population development. In 1945 there were 7,251 inhabitants in the market town, in 1950 8,186 inhabitants, in 1955 8,643 inhabitants, in 1960 9,088 inhabitants and in 1965 11,919 inhabitants. No new suburban development outside the municipal boundaries took place after the incorporations in 1941.

Recent times
Gradually, the number of employees at Grenaa Dampvæveri decreased, and by the closure in early 2002, the number of employees had dropped to 170 people. It was a big blow for the city when the Weaving stopped (now a new district is planned in the factory area with shops, offices and homes). After being hit by this tragedy, Grenaa was hit by a new one in 2002, when the town's landmark, Baunhøj Mill, burned all the way to the ground. Subsequently, it was decided to rebuild the mill and the new one could be inaugurated in 2005. 12 years before (1993), the city's largest tourist attraction, the Kattegat Center, was completed and has since been a huge audience success. Close to the center, Åbyen, a newer district, has also been built.

The city's last remaining daily newspaper, Dagbladet Djursland, was closed down on 31 October 2001, shortly after the newspaper's merger with Århus Stiftstidende and Randers Amtsavis, after 88 years of operation. The magazine then had a circulation of 5500 copies. Midtjyske Medier publishes the weekly magazines Djurslandsposten and Grenaa Bladet, both of which are based in Grenaa.