Rudbøl ↔ Lydersholm
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In the wide, flat marshes between Møgeltønder and Rudbøl you pass many of the proud homesteads of the marsh farmers, which lie on artificial dwelling mounds. On the southern horizon you can visualise the old dyke at the Magisterkoog. The painter Emil Nolde lived here from 1916 to 1927. Then he moved to the south side of the border, as the amphibian landscape he loved so much disappeared north of the border. The largest part of the year wide swathes of land around here were flooded by the Vidå. The drainage of the marshes took the lovely panorama from him. Neither his protest nor the alternatives he outlined, could stop the project. Unfortunately, the drainage of the marshes was also being pressed ahead south of the border. With the building of the coastal pumping station in Verlath in 1933 he lost his beloved panorama there, too.
A little south of Rosenkranz, the North Sea/Baltic Sea Cycle Route passes the Nolde Museum. From 1927 to 1937 the painter had his residential and studio house built here after his own design on the dwelling mount of Seebüll. The inventive, closed building of red and violet clinker stands up from the deep, wide marshes, and is surrounded by a splendid flower garden. Nolde lived and worked here until his death in 1956. The original atmosphere has been preserved, and walking through the drawing room and the cabinets feels more like visiting a studio than a museum. The exhibition of paintings, water colours, graphics, and craftworks changes every year, and gives an overview of Nolde’s artistic accomplishments. He ranks among the leading expressionist artists of the 20th century.
West of Tønder lies the picturesque village of Møgeltønder, with Denmark’s most beautiful village road, and the Schackenborg Castle. The castle was built in 1664, and was held by the Earls of Schack for 300 years, until it was handed over to the youngest son of the Danish Queen, Prince Joachim, in 1993. He now resides here and acts as an agriculturist. In the summertime, guided tours take place in the Schackenborg gardens. You should also pay a visit to the about 800 year old St. Nikolaj Church, where you can not only see Denmark’s oldest village church organ, but also luscious frescoes and other fixtures from the Renaissance and the Middle Ages.
The border route leads through two totally different parts of the village: In the southern part lies the actual farming village with the old, reed-thatched farm houses of the yeomanry. Some of the low, Frisian-style buildings date back to the 17th century. The broad, cobbled 'Slotsgade' (Castle Street) in the village centre presents itself totally differently. It is lined by lime trees and the houses are very homogeneous in style. Many of them once housed the staff of the estate belonging to the castle originally called "Møgeltønderhus". Between the formerly German-minded towns of Tønder and Højer, Møgeltønder was a Danish enclave. Unlike in the surrounding towns, the laws of the Danish kingdom applied here and not those of the Duchy of Schleswig. An example for this is that while censorship existed in Tønder, there was freedom of expression in Møgeltønder.
Excursion tip (2 km):
Near Gallehus, north of Møgeltønder, lies the place where the famous golden horns of Gallehus were discovered (Gallehus, Guldhornsvej). Two memorial stones (Guldhornsstenene) remind of the two horns of pure gold weighing about 3 kg each, which were found in 1639 and 1734. The artefacts have been dated to 400 A. D., but as the original golden horns were stolen from the Royal Treasury and melted down in 1802, the dating remains imprecise. Copies can be viewed in the Tønder Museum.
Tønder (GER: Tondern), the ‚marsh-capital’ has always been a small, but busy trading town. It received its town charter as early as 1243. In the middle-ages and during the Renaissance, Tønder held great significance as a harbour and trans-shipment centre for oxen and horses. In the end, the harbour had to be given up due to aggradation. In the 18th century, the town established a world-wide reputation for tatting. More then 12,000 women and young girls worked in this trade. The rich merchants had patrician houses built, which today can be admired in the city centre. Every third year a tatting festival with up to 700 participants, takes place. Tønder is also famous for its Folk and Jazz Festival – the largest in Scandinavia – and for its attractive museums.
The historic ‘Tønder Museum’ (Kongevej 51-55) shows amongst others a large collection of silverware from local workshops, tatting, furniture and Dutch tiles. The affiliated ‘Sønderjyllands Kunstmuseum’ is the main museum for art in this part of the country. ‘Drøhses Hus’ (Storegade 14) in the pedestrian area houses a special section of Tønder Museum with collections of tatting, furniture and faiences.
North of Tønder an uncommon exhibition awaits you in the Zeppelin museum: Pictures, findings, and reconstructions give you an impression of the largest German naval airship harbour in Northern Europe, which was situated here from 1914-1920. A collection of the time of the Danish garrison, which was stationed here from 1920-1936, can be viewed, too. (Tønder, Gasværkvej 1, weekends only.)
At the border crossing Böglum/Sæd, southwest of Tønder, you find a privately driven gem: The Borderland’s Museum (Sæd, Sønderløgum Landevej 9, Saturday and Sunday only). Here, in an exhibition, which has been arranged with a loving hand, you learn everything there is to know about border control, border history and the German occupation of Denmark in April 1940.
Today, Tønder seems to the visitor like an unquestionable Danish trading town. Nevertheless the town’s history has been strongly influenced by Germany, with strong cultural and economic ties to the south. The language spoken in schools and churches at the time was almost solely German. In the Referendum of National Affiliation in 1920, nearly 75% voted for Germany. Accordingly, they were deeply disappointed, as the border came to run south of Tønder nonetheless. Anyhow, Germans and Danes coexisted peacefully until Hitler’s seizure of power. During the Nazi era, the atmosphere tightened, and even in the years after the war the relationship remained difficult. In the 1950s, the situation improved, and German cultural life was restored in Tønder. Today you find German institutions like the school, kindergarten, library, a German parish, as well as several German associations. The hatchet of the border fights is buried now, and both nationalities live together in an exemplary way.
Between Aventoft and Tønder a lovely village rises from the flat landscape: Ubjerg. Next to one of Denmark’s oldest vicarages, dating back to 1675, stands a 12th century Romanesque church. Its 1747 ceiling frescoes and the 1525 crucifix are definitely worth visiting.
No less imposing is the marsh grange 'Bjerremark' west of Ubjerg, which was built in 1842, respectively 1525 (main wing), and which today houses a conference and seminar centre owned by Northern Schleswig shoe manufacturer Ecco.
Today, there are hardly any relicts of the border controls left in Aventoft, or anywhere else along the 69 km-long border. But at least the old customs office still stands; it was troublesome enough building it in the first place after the demarcation in 1920. A local farmer, the owner of the site where the building was to be erected, completely refused to sell. So procedures were implemented for compulsory purchase. Supported by expert opinion, the farmer’s lawyer argued that the farmer would not be able to use his muckheap anymore, if the site was handed over to the toll authorities. There would not be enough space to turn around with his cart, which meant that he would not be able to drive close enough to the muckheap to use it. An appointment was made for a trial run, to be conducted by the toll inspector and witnessed by the church warden. Solely for this purpose a plan of the site was drawn, including exact coloured routes for the trial runs with empty and loaded dung cart. Regrettably it was never put to practice, as the building material for the new toll office had already been stored around the muckheap. In the end, the tedious procedures were closed with a settlement, and in 1924 the toll office was finally built.
You may hardly believe it whilst cycling through Aventoft, but originally the village was a fishing village, which until 1928 lay surrounded by wide lakeland. With the drainage of the marshes, the lakes disappeared. But taking a sightseeing flight from the nearby glider port (Segelflugplatz Aventoft, Westerunterland, Tel. + 49 4668 590) you are well able to imagine the lakes surrounding the village. The fishers already faced problems in 1920, when they lost their customers in Tønder with the demarcation of the new border.
Today Aventoft’s townscape is not only dominated by the 13th century church and the beautiful centre, but mainly by the shops of the border retail.
Together with Aventoft and Harrislee, Süderlügum is one of the communities, which are influenced most by the border retail business. The proximity of the border permits special arrangements regarding shopping hours. So even customers from afar sally out for Sunday shopping in Süderlügum. Since Süderlügum was situated conveniently at the western Oxen Trail, Süderlügum has been a bustling trading centre already in the olden days. The village, which was first mentioned in 1177 as 'Lügum', lies between marsh and Geest (moor land). The marsh with its fertile pastures provided for profitable farming, while the Geest caused serious problems for Süderlügum: Here you had to endure sand-storms! The inland-dunes east of Süderlügum, right between North Sea/Baltic Sea Cycle Route and Border Route, still give you a clear impression of the masses of sand moved in strong wind. Today you find an observation platform as well as nice walking trails through the dunes in this interesting nature preservation area.
East of the Süderlügum inland-dunes both Border Route and North Sea/Baltic Sea Cycle Route cross the Süderlügum forest. Only by planting this forest in the beginning of the last century, the strong sand drifts in this part of the Geest could be stopped. In other parts of the Geest, sandstorms still happen on agricultural crop land, when it is not protected against wind erosion by hedgerows.
Between Ellhöft and Lydersholm, you move along a quaint path on the Border Route. In this secluded area, you actually feel like you are in no-mans-land. At the horizon, a few modern windmills are turning in the endless sky. You can climb them and enjoy the view in Wind Park Ellhöft (Tel. + 49 4663 7299). The silence here is absolute; the only sound you can hear comes from the gravel under your wheels.
You hardly notice the border crossing at Vindtved. None of the small border houses, where the gendarmes used to meet the locals for a game of cards, remain. Here, people had a good relationship with the gendarmes, and they helped each other. After all, most of them lived in the village of Ellhöft, and they and their families often worked on the fields at harvest time. So the toll keepers turned a blind eye once in a while, and locals reported any suspicious figures they saw near the border.
Excursion tip(1,5 km):
For those Border Route cyclists who find castle ruins interesting or romantic, a place north of Lydersholm can be recommended: The foundations of the hunting lodge which Duke Hans den Ældre had built around 1570, are hidden in the grass behind the imposing farm 'Grøngård'. (Grøngård Slotsruin, Lydersholmvej 3) Watch out: The moat, which is still filled with water, ist just as easy to miss!
Excursion tip (8,5 km) :
If you already have decided on taking a detour to the North, here is another tip for those interested in culture: At the northern bank of the Grønå, between Jejsing and Bylderup-Bov, lies a village, which has produced a world-famous painter and given him his name: Nolde. Hans Emil Hansen was born here on 7 August 1867. In 1904 he took on the last name “Nolde”. In 1943 the farm that had been his childhood home burned down. A memorial plaque in Emil Nolde’s birthplace gives further information about the place that has left its mark on the expressionist painter in the first years of his life.