Sønderjylland has a rich history. Throughout the region you’ll find plenty of historic monuments, as well as large and small museums and major and minor attractions.
What they all have in common is that they represent chapters of the history of Sønderjylland – a history that has at times been both bleak and conflict-ridden, but which has also resulted in fantastic finds.
At History Centre Dybbøl Banke you step straight into a pivotal moment in Denmark’s history as the battle at Dybbøl Banke rages between the Danes and the Prussians in 1864. Feel the thunder of the big guns and explore the redoubt’s two gloomy gunpowder stores made of solid concrete. Take cover in the huge blockhouse, which was the redoubt’s bomb shelter because it was believed to be shell-proof. In the centre’s authentic reconstruction you can walk through a Danish redoubt for the first time since 1964.
With its superb location on the seaward approach to the town, Sønderborg Castle is a Danish national icon. The castle is home to almost 800 years of dramatic history tied to Sønderjylland and Schleswig. The numerous rooms house modern exhibitions of the chequered history of Sønderjylland and the border country, the imprisonment of King Christian II at the castle, the Danish defeat in 1864 and the many Danes who fought on the German side during the First World War prior to Reunification in 1920.
In the large archaeological museum in Haderslev you can experience some of the finest archaeological finds unearthed in Sønderjylland – including Denmark’s oldest burial site, splendid weapon finds from the bog at Ejsbøl Mose and the remnants of Hansborg Castle from the middle of the 16th century.
Embark upon a journey of exploration in Sønderjylland’s fascinating antiquity, the history of the royal borough of Haderslev and visit the historic houses at the museum. The Museum of Sønderjylland is responsible for archaeology throughout Sønderjylland, and you’ll often see the latest finds exhibited at the museum.
During the First World War, 1914-18, Tønder was home to one of the German Empire’s major airship bases. The base was located a few kilometres north of the town and was a more or less self-sufficient community with its own gasworks, waterworks and heating plant. On 19 July 1918, Tønder bore witness to a world first when the Zeppelin base became the target of the first-ever air raid launched from an aircraft carrier. The English pilots’ reports and the remains of the bombs are on display at the museum.
Take time to visit the aircraft hangar in Soldaterskoven, which is the only building from the Zeppelin base that has been preserved.
The Northern Defence Line is a line of fortifications constructed by the German army during the First World War in the period 1916-18 to provide protection against an attack from the north. The line stretched across what was at the time German Sønderjylland from the east coast at Hoptrup to the west coast at a position on the same latitude as Skærbæk. It consisted of barbed wire barriers, a double row of partly dug trenches, artillery positions and shelters – a total of around 800 bunkers.
Frøslev Prison Camp was built as a German internment camp in 1944 during the German occupation of Denmark. Several thousand Danes were imprisoned here by the German Security Police.
Frøslev Prison Camp was actually built in a bid to avoid deportations to concentration camps in Germany. Nevertheless – and despite all agreements to the contrary – more than 1600 prisoners were deported from Frøslev Prison Camp to face the horrors of the German concentration camps. Others remained as prisoners at the camp in Denmark.
Kommandørgården on the island of Rømø in the south-western region of Jutland is an intact whaler home and one of the island’s old, affluent family farms. The name refers to the sea captains who during the 17th century and beginning of the 18th century captained the large whaling vessels that sailed the trade routes and embarked upon long whaling expeditions in the North Atlantic.
If you’re interested in shipping and maritime history, then you should pay a visit to Kulturhistorie Aabenraa. Today in the red museum building you’ll find exhibitions that bring to life the history of shipping and seafaring that characterised the royal borough of Aabenraa throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The deep fjord provided good opportunities for navigation, thus creating the breeding ground for major yards that produced wooden ships that turned Aabenraa into the centre of the maritime industry in Sønderjylland.
The cathedral isn’t a museum – like every other church, it’s still in everyday use.
However, the cathedral is also a building with an exciting and eventful history. It contains fine art and fixtures and is therefore a worthy attraction on a national – and indeed international – scale.
The bog at Nydam was the site of three wooden vessels, a large number of weapons, tools and equipment dating back to the Germanic Iron Age (250-550 AD). The theory that carries the greatest weight is that these items were sacrificed to the gods in ritual ceremonies, which occurred at intervals of several decades. The majority was excavated in 1863; after the war in 1864 it ended up at Gottorp Castle’s museum in Schleswig in Germany. Artefacts from subsequent digs are exhibited at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. A reconstruction of Nydambåden, the boathouse and exhibition building are all situated on the beach near Sottrup forest. The area is open to visitors all year round, but from May until September Nydambåden is located at the end of the landing stage and there are activities several times a week.