Tønder is the oldest market town in Denmark. The town has a population of approximately 7,595 people. It is located in the south-western part of Denmark. The region is called Southern Jutland (Sønderjylland) and the town is close to the border between Denmark and Germany.
South Jutland is Denmark’s historic borderland. Its history mirrors Denmark as a whole. This part of Denmark has changed hands countless times throughout history. Today, Flensburg Fjord acts as a natural border between Denmark and Germany, but in line with the Schegen Area agreement, there is no longer a physical border to cross.
According to local history, Tønder was part of Germany between 1864 and 1920. As a result, the town is built by the mix of both languages and culture. Rumor has it, they are able to speak in a different local dialect that is a combination between Danish and German.
A local source said that this historical town is currenty struggling with their economy due to the lack of tourist business. The locals seem to rely on tourism to live, however, a lot of tourists do not seem to spend a lot of time in Tønder because of the lack of facilities and services. Moreover, it is said that at least one local person leaves the town everyday because of the lack of job, education, and entertainment.
To fix the problem, there is a need to redefine their cultural borderline, the way the locals did once with the Danish and German culture.
In the past, the Danes and Germans fought over Tønder because of its role as an important harbour. This is a fascinating fact considering the sea is about twelve kilometers away from the edge of the town. The townwas often refered to as ‘Market Town’, ‘Harbour Town’, or ‘Shipping Town’.
Unfortunately, this important history relies on the word of mouth to be passed around. The only existing evidences are several mooring rings located on Skibbroen street. Several houses on this street still has mooring rings attached to their exterior wall. These rings were used to tied up boats on to the front of the houses.
Since the peak of the towns’ glory years relates to the harbour and market, the architecture needs to reflect this aspect of Tønder history.