Mill of the monks
Here, between the Fairy Tale Garden and Munke Mose, is the former site of the Munke Mølle water mill. It was built in 1175 by the Benedictine monks who had been brought over from England to Odense by Erik Ejegod (the brother of King Canute). The monks were charged with the numerous duties that were associated with the canonisation of Canute the Holy.
Town map from 1899. Munke Mølle was located approximately where Munkemøllestræde joins (what is now) Klosterbakken, which was not constructed until 1918. The mill complex is marked with a black circle. The red dot indicates the Munke Mølle sign, where you are now standing.
The mill was built on a small islet that stretched from where Munkemøllestræde now joins with Klosterbakken, down to what is now the indoor swimming pool. A mill race was dug in the 17th century from the lock at Ny Vestergade to Munkemøllestræde to divert water to the mill. There was a path on the resulting long island between the river and the mill race that was given the name “Filosofgangen” (Philosophers’ Path) in 1866. Read about St. Canute.
Filosofgangen. Approx. 1900.
In 1909 ,Munke Mølle relocated to new premises at the docks. The old mill was demolished, and the mill race was filled in with earth from the last remains of the ring ramparts from the Viking stronghold on Nonnebakken. “Filosofgangen” became the street you can see today. Read more about the Viking fort.
View of Odense Å, the river that runs through the city, 1905. The spot where H.C. Andersen’s mother was a washerwoman, behind Munke Mølle at the end of Munkemøllestræde.
Mill workers in front of Munke Mølle, with St Canute’s Church in the background. The date of the photo is unknown, but is probably from the 1890s. Remains of the mill race (now known as “bag åen” (or “the bit behind the river”) can still be seen in the Fairy Tale Garden. Filosofgangen was transformed from an idyllic path to a busy street and Munke Mose is now one of Odense’s biggest parks.