Facts About Sønderborg
Few Danish towns have a more attractive location than Sønderborg. It is situated on both sides of Alsund the inlet that, like a broad river, separates the island of Als from the mainland of Jutland. The town owes its location to the small fortification built around 1200 on a little islet to protect the southern entrance to Alsund against the raiding Wends.
Nowadays Als is connected to the mainland by bridges, but to many visitors it is still a green holiday island, with a coastline perfect for swimming, sailing and fishing. Sønderborg is the largest town on the island. As a result of being close to the border with Germany, it has been at the centre of many important events in Denmark’s history.
One of the most famous battles, the Battle of Dybbøl, took place in 1864just outside the town. In the 1864 war, Sønderborg was heavily damaged by artillery in connection with the Prussian assault on Dybbøl and their subsequent occupation of Als. In the aftermath of the war, Denmark lost Southern Jutland to Germany, who occupied the area for 56 years.
After a referendum in 1920 in the region of Slesvig, the present border was determined. Southern Jutland (North-Slesvig) voted to belong to Denmark while South-Slesvig chose German nationality.
With its 30,000 inhabitants, Sønderborg is now a charming mix of old and new. There is a friendly, quiet atmosphere, but because of the large student population the social life in Sønderborg is lively. There are plenty of restaurants, cafés, bars, and discotheques.
The fort was further developed through the centuries and is now Sønderborg Castle (Sønderborg Slot) which houses an historical museum. The now 800-year old castle, once a royal residence, has stood witness to it all. Nowadays it is a museum depicting the history of Sønderborg and its surroundings.
At the site of the 1864 battle there is a modern centre which explains the historical background for the battle. A hike around the entrenchments at Dybbøl and a visit to the Dybbøl Mill provide a good insight into the regions history.