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Architectural styles by the Wadden Sea

The architecture along the Wadden Sea is characterised by the many well-maintained old houses and buildings. Noteworthy are the shipyard buildings in Tøndermarsken, the well-preserved villages and the half-timbered buildings and gable houses in the market towns.

People were already living in the area surrounding the Wadden Sea during the early Stone Age. They lived in the high-lying geest, where they were safe from storm surges. The first farms were built at the end of the Bronze Age, and villages gradually grew up around them. Therefore, most of the buildings along the Wadden Sea have roots thousands of years in the past, and Ribe was already a marketplace for the surrounding area in the 8th century.

The Middle Ages

During the 13th century, farms were built on natural moraine knolls in the salt marshes, and later on manmade embankments, the so-called værfter. Today, there are 60 mounds in the Wadden Sea area, and one of the earliest mound areas is located by Ved Åen in Tøndermarsken, where ten farms were once situated. Most mounds are only home to a single farm, but the villages of Udbjerg and Rudbøl are located on village mounds. The northernmost buildings located on a mound in the Wadden Sea area made up the village of Misthusum in Ballummarsken. The village was founded in the 13th century but was destroyed by storm surges in 1634 and 1720. Shortly after the turn of the 19th century, the village was abandoned but the mounds still dot the landscape. The market towns of Tønder and Varde were established in the Middle Ages next to large navigable streams. Before the dykes were built, Tønder had easy access to the sea, while Varde depended on the quays at Janderup, Hjerting and Ho.

From half-timbered buildings to foundation walls

Since the 18th century, houses built on foundation walls, i.e. brick houses, have become common in the Wadden Sea area. Brick building construction began in Holland and spread up to the Wadden Sea area, especially after the storm surge in 1634. However, fires also destroyed many of the half-timbered buildings from the Middle Ages, particularly in Varde. In the 18th century, the Schlewswig farmhouse style became widespread in the Wadden Sea area in Southern Jutland. 

The farmhouses were originally thatched and were usually built of clay bricks fired on local brick kilns. The farmhouses consisted of a single main wing with stables and living accommodation separated by a central hall, but they could have several wings. Particular to these buildings were the roof-bearing pillars inside that made the construction more resilient against storm surges, as well as the so-called arkengaf (a type of cornice) above the entrance door. Many farmhouses to the north also had an arkengaf. Half-timbered buildings were common in the area until about the 19th century, after which almost all buildings were built with foundation walls. Usually the farmhouse was the first to be converted, and the other wings then followed. The ideal was the rectangular farmyard with four wings. However, most properties had two or three wings, and the smaller ones only a single wing which contained a barn on one side and living accommodation on the other.

Building practices in the 20th century

At the end of the 19th century, a new village called Esbjerg was established. Houses were built according to the historical style at the time that reflected a mix of earlier styles. In 1870, the town plan was drawn up, based on a classical town planning principle of rectangular blocks in a right-angled network of streets, with centres around the port, railways and squares. From the beginning of the 20th century, the influence of Jugendstil, the merger of architecture and decorative art, can be seen in the architecture along the Wadden Sea. The house on Lundvej 39 in Varde is a particularly attractive example of the style. Examples of Jugendstil can be found in houses in both the countryside and in the villages, for example in Hjerpsted. In the early 20th century, a local style characterised by good materials and solid craftsmanship became popular. In Møgeltønder and its surrounding areas, the local estate inspector designed buildings in this style. In Denmark, the style was popularized by the Landsforeningen Bedre Byggeskik (Association for Better Building Practices).

Danish architect students were inspired by the pastoral building styles during their survey trips to Møgeltønder and along the western coast.

Seaside holidays

By the late 19th century, the Wadden Sea islands had become a destination for seaside holidays, and the first holiday homes were constructed in Lakolk on Rømø. A total of 37 blockhouses were constructed among the dunes. They resembled mountain cabins, with carved rafters. Some of them still exist, and it is possible to get a feeling of what the holiday area looked like around the year 1900. Similarly, you can still see some of the older holiday homes on the seafront in Fanø Bad. However, most of the old guesthouses and palatial-like seaside hotels have been torn down and replaced by more modern holiday centres.

Modern architectural style

The coastline of the Wadden Sea is speckled with well-maintained and beautifully conserved older houses. The older parts of Ribe are still characterised by half-timbered buildings or foundation walls from the late 16th century right up to the beginning of the 19th century. The houses are packed tightly into blocks, often with the end walls facing the street. The town centre of Tønder is still characterised by medieval town planning with narrow plots and gabled houses. The side streets of Spikergade and Uldgade are particularly worth a visit. The only medieval building still standing in Varde is Sct. Jacobi Kirke (Saint Jacobi Church). In 1779 and 1821 fires destroyed separate sections of the city's oldest houses but the street plan from the Middle Ages is still intact. Many villages also have older buildings. In 2011, Sønderho on Fanø was named the most beautiful village in Denmark, and it has many well-maintained houses from the age of sail. You can also find many well-preserved houses along Slotsgaden in Møgeltønder and in Sønderby. In 2009, a large donation from the A.P. Møller Fund led to extensive renovation of the old houses in Ballum.


Guidet tur

Oplev dette på en guidet tur med en af nationalparkens dygtige turarrangører.

Guided tourGo on a guided tour with one of the National Park’s experienced tour operators.

Geführte TourWir empfehlen eine geführte Tour mit einem der erfahrenen Führer des Nationalparks.

Oksbøl

Naturguiden

Adresse Ukendt

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    +45 75 27 19 15

Mandø

Mandøbussen

Okholmvej 5, Mandø, 6760 Ribe

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    +45 75 44 51 07

Højer

Scanoropa Bus

Torvet 1, 6280 Højer

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    +45 24 25 09 89

Løgumkloster

Tønder egnens guider

Dravedvej 6 B, 6240 Løgumkloster

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    +45 74 74 42 45

Rømø

Naturcenter Tønnisgård

Havnebyvej 30, 6792 Rømø

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    +45 74 75 52 57

Møgeltønder

Sort Safari

Slotsgaden 19, 6270 Tønder

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    +45 73 72 64 00


Besøgscentre

Hvis du vil vide mere, så besøg et af nationalparkens spændende besøgscentre.

VisitIf you want to learn more, visit one of the National Park’s exciting exhibition venues.

BesuchWenn Sie mehr erfahren möchten, sollten Sie eines der interessanten Informationszentren des Nationalparks aufsuchen.

Varde

Varde Museum

Lundvej 4, 6800 Varde

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    +45 75 22 08 77

Esbjerg

Esbjerg Museum

Torvegade 45, 6700 Esbjerg

undefined  www.esbjergmuseum.dk
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    +45 76 16 39 39

Esbjerg

Fiskeri- og Søfartsmuseet

Tarphagevej 2 , 6710 Esbjerg V

undefined  www.fimus.dk
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    +45 76 12 20 00

Fanø

Fanø Museum

Skolevej 2, Nordby, 6720 Fanø

undefined  www.fanomuseum.dk
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    +45 30 70 05 75

Fanø

Fanø Skibsfart- og dragtsamling

Hovedgaden 28, Nordby, 6720 Fanø

undefined  www.fanoskibs-dragt.dk
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    +45 21 14 00 43

Mandø

Mandøhuset

Mandø Byvej 5, Mandø, 6760 Ribe

undefined  www.mandoehuset.dk
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    +45 61 31 95 02

Ribe

Museet Ribes Vikinger

Odins Plads 1, 6760 Ribe

undefined  www.ribesvikinger.dk
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    +45 76 16 39 60

Ribe

Ribe Vikinge Center

Lustrupvej 4, Lustrupholm, 6760 Ribe

undefined  www.ribevikingecenter.dk
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    +45 75 41 16 11

Skærbæk

Hjemsted Oldtidspark

Hjemstedvej 60, 6780 Skærbæk

undefined  www.hjemsted.dk
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    +45 74 75 08 00

Skærbæk

Skærbæk Museum

Storegade 47, 6780 Skærbæk

undefined  www.museum-sonderjylland.dk
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    +45 74 75 20 52

Tønder

Kulturhistorie Tønder

Kongevej 51, 6270 Tønder

undefined  www.museum-sonderjylland.dk
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    +45 74 72 89 89

Højer

Højer Mølle

Møllegade 13, 6280 Højer

undefined  www.museum-sonderjylland.dk
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    +45 74 78 29 11