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50 m

West Jutland University College

742.5 km2

Southern Denmark (Syddanmark)


Johnny Sotrup

Esbjerg ( ) is a seaport town and seat of Esbjerg Municipality on the west coast of the Jutland peninsula in southwest Denmark. By road, it is 71 kilometres (44 mi) west of Kolding and 164 kilometres (102 mi) southwest of Aarhus. With a population of 71,618 (January 2014), it is the fifth-largest city in Denmark, and the largest in west Jutland.


Map of Esbjerg

Before a decision was made to establish a harbour (now the second largest in Denmark) at Esbjerg in 1868, the area consisted of only a few farms. Esbjerg developed quickly with the population rising to 13,000 by 1901 and 70,000 by 1970. In addition to its fishing and shipping activities, it also became an important centre for agricultural exports. Over the years, many of the citys visitors have arrived by ferry from Harwich, Essex, England, but this service closed in September 2014 having run since 1875. The harbour facilities are being expanded to answer the needs of the wind-turbine industry and container shipping traffic. Esbjerg is served by Esbjerg Airport with flights to Aberdeen, Scotland and Stavanger, Norway.

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The town has several notable museums and entertainment venues, including Esbjerg Art Museum, Esbjerg Museum and the privately owned Fisheries and Maritime Museum. The Esbjerg Performing Arts Centre was completed in 1997 to designs by Jan and Jorn Utzon. When approached by sea, the Man Meets the Sea is one of the prominent monuments, consisting of four 9-metre-tall (27 feet) white-coloured men, overlooking Saedding Beach. The sculpture was designed by Svend Wiig Hansen and installed in 1995. It hosts branches of the University of Southern Denmark and Aalborg University, Esbjerg is increasingly recognized for its university facilities and sporting activities. It is home to the Danish football club Esbjerg fB, who play their home matches at Blue Water Arena, and also has an ice hockey division called Esbjerg Elite Ishockey, which plays at the Granly Hockey Arena.

History and economy

Esbjergs oldest existing house, on the corner of Kongensgade, was built around 1660. The town itself was not established until 1868 when it was built as a replacement for the harbour in Altona, which had previously been Denmarks most important North Sea port but came under German control after the Second Schleswig War in 1864. At the time, Esbjerg consisted of only a few farms. Developed under royal decree from 1868 until 1874, the harbour was officially opened in 1874, with rail connections to Varde and to Fredericia, an important hub on the east coast of Jutland. Initial planning of the town was conducted by chartered surveyor H. Wilkens in 1870 with streets laid out in the form of a rectangular grid. The market square (Torvet) was positioned at the centre, midway between the harbour and the railway station. From only 400 inhabitants at the beginning of the 1870s, the town and its population grew rapidly, with 1529 residents mentioned in 1880, and 4,211 in 1890.


The town is situated on the southwestern coast of Denmark, and is a port on the North Sea. By road, it is 71 kilometres (44 mi) west of Kolding, 164 kilometres (102 mi) southwest of Aarhus, 298 kilometres (185 mi) west of Copenhagen and 274 kilometres (170 mi) southwest of Aalborg. By sea, it is situated roughly 380 miles (610 km) northeast of Harwich, England. As a result of planned development, the older sections of the town look like a chessboard with long, wide streets with rectangular corners.

Esbjerg Beautiful Landscapes of Esbjerg

The high ground of Esbjerg stretches along the east coast of the Wadden Sea (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) between the rivers of Varde and Sneum, encompassing the coastal area of Ho Bugt and the seaside district of Hjerting to the north. Opposite Esbjerg, across Fano Bay, is the island of Fano, 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) by 5 kilometres (3.1 mi), with Nordby as its principal settlement, connected to Esbjerg by ferry. To the west of Esbjerg, the town boundary is defined by a number of small streams. The highest point is some 25 m (82 ft) above sea level. The town is located on top of steep slopes leading down to the flatlands of the harbour area. The built-up area itself is not very hilly but there are considerable differences in terrain. Apart from the cliff in the town park overlooking the harbour, the valley of Fourfelt Baek, 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) in length, is the main feature of the landscape, resulting in differences of up to 20 m (66 ft) with the surroundings.


The Courthouse on the main square was designed by Hans Christian Amberg and completed in 1892 when the town had only 4,000 inhabitants. The red-brick building with stepped gables, round-arched windows and a tower reaching 30 m (98 ft) in height resembles a medieval castle. After comprehensive renovation work in 2010, it is now used as a venue for weddings and houses the tourist office.

Man Meets the Sea (Mennesket ved Havet) is a monument of four 9-metre-tall (27 feet) white-coloured men located to the west of Esbjerg, overlooking Saedding Beach. One of the areas major tourist attractions, the sculpture was designed by Svend Wiig Hansen and installed on 28 October 1995. It was funded by the Esbjerg Municipality authorities, the Kunstfond arts foundation and private sponsors to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the municipality in 1994. The monument can be seen by ferry leaving or entering Esbjerg.

The water tower from 1895 was designed by Christian Hjerrild Clausen who had been inspired by Nurembergs medieval Nassauer Haus. Standing at the top of a cliff, it commands excellent views of the city and the harbour from its platform which is open to the public. The imposing old Courthouse Building on the central square with its tall tower and stepped gables has recently been fully renovated. A bronze equestrian statue of Christian IX, the founder of Esbjerg, stands at the centre of the square.

The largest hotel in Esbjerg is Hotel Britannica. Other hotels include Danhostel Esbjerg in a former high school about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) to the northwest of the city, and Hotel Ansgar on Skolegade. Most of the restaurants in Esbjerg are to the east of Torvet. Of particular note are Sands Restaurant which serves Danish cuisine such as smorrebrod, meatballs, smoked eels and the fried beef patty pariserbof, and the Paddy Go Easy Irish pub near the main square. Housed in a listed building on the main square, Dronning Louise serves everything from full meals to sandwiches and occasionally offers live music.

Museums and theatres

The municipality has a number of museums, libraries and music and drama venues. The Esbjerg Performing Arts Centre (Musikhuset Esbjerg) is a complex with two auditoriums. Its concert hall, with seating for over 1,100, can also be adapted for theatrical productions. Completed in 1997 to designs by Jan Utzon and his father, it hosts classical concerts, opera, family shows and drama productions. Located in the City Park close to the harbour, it forms part of a complex which includes the Esbjerg Art Museum (Esbjerg Kunstmuseum) displaying works from artists including Asger Jorn. The museum also regularly hosts temporary international exhibitions.

The privately owned Fisheries and Maritime Museum, which opened in 1968, consists of a saltwater aquarium and a sealarium as well as indoor and outdoor exhibitions on Danish fisheries and shipping. Esbjerg Museum in the city centre has permanent collections covering the history of the city and the surrounding region. It includes displays from the Iron Age and the Viking Period as well as a large exhibition of amber. The Printing Museum traces the history of the art of printing from the beginning of the 20th century until it was replaced by modern technology. The collection includes a variety of machines and equipment used to print books and newspapers, mainly from Germany and Denmark. The Lightship Museum (Museumsfyrskib) in the harbour is open to the public on board the Horns Rev lightship. Dating from 1912, the Horns Rev, also known as Motorfyrskibet Nr. I, is the worlds oldest and best preserved motor lightship. It houses an impressive exhibition of life and work on board.

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