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Esbjerg square rotated.JPG
Aerial view of Esbjerg
Aerial view of Esbjerg
Esbjerg is located in Denmark
Location in Denmark
Coordinates: 55°29′N 08°27′E / 55.483°N 8.450°E / 55.483; 8.450Coordinates: 55°29′N 08°27′E / 55.483°N 8.450°E / 55.483; 8.450
Country Denmark
Region Southern Denmark (Syddanmark)
Municipality Esbjerg
Established 1868
City charter 1899
Current municipality 1 January 2007
 • Mayor Johnny Søtrup
 • City 742.5 km2 (286.7 sq mi)
 • Urban 15 km2 (6 sq mi)
Elevation 11 m (36 ft)
Population (2013)
 • City 71,491
 • Density 96/km2 (250/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 6700-6715
Area code(s) (+45) 7

Esbjerg (/ˈɛsbjɜr/, /ˈɛsbjɜrɡ/; Danish: [ˈɛsb̥jæɐ̯ˀ]; West Jutish dialect[ˈɛsbʲæa̯]) is a seaport town and seat of Esbjerg Municipality on the west coast of the Jutland peninsula in southwest Denmark. By road it is 71.3 kilometres (44.3 mi) west of Kolding, 164 kilometres (102 mi) southwest of Aarhus and 298 kilometres (185 mi) west of Copenhagen. As of 1 January 2013 it had a population of 71,491,[1] making it the fifth largest city in Denmark, and the largest in west Jutland.


Plan of Esbjerg in 1900

Esbjerg's oldest existing house, on the corner of Kongensgade, was built around 1660.[2]

The city was established in 1868 as a replacement for the harbour in Altona,[3] which had previously been Denmark's 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. The harbour was officially opened in 1874, the year Esbjerg was connected by rail to Varde to the north and to the important town of Fredericia on the east coast of Jutland. The city was initially planned by chartered surveyor H. Wilkens in 1870 with streets laid out in the form of a rectangular grid. The market square (Torvet) was placed at the centre, midway between the harbour and the railway station.[4] From only 400 inhabitants at the beginning of the 1870s, the town and its population grew rapidly.[2][5]

Esbjerg in May 1945

In 1893, Esbjerg became a municipality in its own right (initially known as Esbjerg Ladeplads), receiving the status and privileges of a market town in 1899 and incorporating the parish of Jerne (east of the centre) in 1945. A number of institutions and facilities were soon established, including the courthouse and town hall (1891), the gas and waterworks (1896) and the power plant (1907).[6] More recently Esbjerg has grown into an important centre for education with campuses belonging to the University of Southern Denmark (1998) and Aalborg University (1995).[5]


The city 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.[7] As a result of planned development, the older sections of the city look like a chessboard with long, wide streets with rectangular corners.[5]

The high ground of Esbjerg stretches along the east coast of the Wadden Sea between the rivers of Varde Å and Sneum Å, encompassing the coastal area of Ho Bugt and the seaside district of Hjerting to the north. To the west, the city 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 the 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 City Park overlooking the harbour, the valley of Fourfelt Bæk is the main feature of the landscape, resulting in differences of up to 20 m (66 ft) with the surroundings.[8]


Skandi Fjord in Esbjerg dock

Once Denmark's principal fishing port, the Port of Esbjerg is still a driving force for the city's economy, yet it is not a tourist destination. Lonely Planet remarked that "nobody comes to Esbjerg for a holiday, in fact, as with many industrial ports, most visitors rush through as quickly as possible".[9] Esbjerg is also the main city for Denmark's oil and offshore activities. Companies like Maersk, Ramboll, Stimwell Services, ABB, Schlumberger, COWI and Atkins all have offshore related activities in the city. Halliburton has an office in Esbjerg.[10]

The city holds an annual music festival spanning two weekends (nine days) during mid-August. It is focused around the central Torvet Square which hosts the main stage. The festival celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2006.

The largest hotel in Esbjerg is Hotel Britannica.[11] 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.[12] Of particular note are Sand's Restaurant which serves Danish cuisine such as smørrebrød, meatballs, smoked eels and the fried beef patty pariserbof, and the Paddy Go Easy Irish pub near the main square.[12] Housed in an attractive listed building on the main square, Dronning Louise serves everything from full meals to sandwiches and occasionally offers live music.[4][13]

Administration and politics[edit]

Mayors of Esbjerg since 1898[edit]

  • 1898 – 1907: Jørgen Lyngbye
  • 1907 – 1921: Knud Holch
  • 1921 – 1925: A.P. Brandholt
  • 1925 – 1929: Niels Jørgen Jæger
  • 1929 – 1941: Morten Mortensen
  • 1941 – 1942: Rasmus Peder Nielsen Kock
  • 1942 – 1950: Laurits Høyer-Nielsen
  • 1950 – 1954: Hans Nissen
  • 1954 – 1958: Laurits Høyer-Nielsen
  • 1958 – 1959: Hans Nissen
  • 1959 – 1964: Laurits Høyer-Nielsen
  • 1964 – 1979: Henning Rasmussen
  • 1979 – 1989: Alfred Kristian Nielsen
  • 1990 – 1993: Flemming Bay-Jensen
  • 1994 – : Johnny Søtrup


Esbjerg Main Square with the old courthouse (now used by the tourist office) and statue of King Christian IX directly ahead

Man Meets the Sea (Danish: Mennesket ved Havet) is a monument of four 9-metre-tall (27 feet) white-coloured men located to the west of Esbjerg, overlooking Sædding Beach. One of the area's major tourist attractions, the sculpture was designed by Svend Wiig Hansen and installed on 28 October 1995.[14] 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.[15]

The water tower from 1895 was designed by Christian Hjerrild Clausen who had been inspired by Nuremberg's 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.[16] The imposing old Courthouse Building on the central square with its tall tower and stepped gables has recently been fully renovated.[17] A bronze equestrian statue of Christian IX, the founder of Esbjerg, stands at the centre of the square.[4]


The first church to be built in Esbjerg was the red-brick Church of Our Saviour, completed in 1887.[18]

Several new churches were established after the Second World War when there was a marked increase in the city's population. The first of these, Trinity Church, was designed to accommodate a large congregation while offering additional facilities for both young and old. Breaking with tradition, its square-shaped nave was built directly adjacent to lower ancillary buildings including a hall with a stage, meeting rooms and a kitchen. The bell tower stands alone, quite separate from the church.[19] St Nikolaj Church is a Roman Catholic church from 1969. Unusual for a church, its innovative square-shaped design by Johan Otto von Spreckelsen served as a basis for his Grande Arche in Paris.[20]

The modern red-brick Grundtvig's Church southeast of the town centre was designed by Ole Nielsen. With a strangely-shaped, red-tiled roof, it was completed in 1969.[21] Designed by Inger and Johannes Exner, Sædden Church with wave-like folds in its red-brick walls was inaugurated in 1978. Daylight focusing on the altar is supplemented by 803 electric light bulbs.[22] Gjesing Church, a red-brick building to the north is from 1983. Like many other modern churches in the area, it has a free-standing bell tower as well as a church hall and meeting rooms.[19] Other churches include Zion's Church and Jerne Church.

Also built in a style akin to the Neo-Gothic architecture of churches, the Bethania Mission House opposite the Church of our Saviour was completed in 1906 by C.H. Clausen.[23]

Museums and theatres[edit]

Esbjerg Kunstmuseum

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.[24] Located in the City Park close to the harbour, it forms part of a complex which includes the Esbjerg Art Museum (Esbjerg Kunstmuseum) with works from artists including Asger Jorn.[9] The museum also regularly hosts temporary international exhibitions.[25]

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.[26][27] 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 amber exhibition.[28][29] 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.[30] 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 world's oldest and best preserved motor lightship. It houses an impressive exhibition of life and work on board.[31]


Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts

Esbjerg is one of the central towns of the University of Southern Denmark, and also houses a branch of Aalborg University and IT Academy West. The main branch of Profession School – University College West (Danish: Professionshøjskolen University College Vest) and the Esbjerg section of the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, housed in a former power station, are located in the city.[32]


Esbjerg is home to the Danish football club Esbjerg fB, established in 1924 and known as EfB for short. The club has won the Danish Championship five times, in 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965 and 1979. Esbjerg fB play their home matches at Blue Water Arena.

Esbjerg also has an ice hockey division called Esbjerg Elite Ishockey which plays at the Granly Hockey Arena.[33] Rugby in Esbjerg is represented by Esbjerg RK, who play at Guldager Idrætscenter. Esbjerg also has its own Speedway team, which were crowned Danish League Champions in 2012.


Ferry services connect Esbjerg via Ho Bay to Nordby on the island of Fanø via Nordic Ferry Service,[34] and over the North Sea to Harwich, United Kingdom via DFDS Seaways. Outside the summer period, Smyril Line operate to Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands.

Esbjerg Station is operated by Danish State Railways. Esbjerg is the western terminus of InterCity trains from Copenhagen (operating once an hour), with the journey taking about three hours. DSB also operates local trains to Fredericia. Arriva operates Vestbanen local trains south to Ribe and Tønder and north to Struer.

The city of Esbjerg is a large transport hub for both rail and road traffic, and is an important port for Danish North Sea oil offshore activity. It has an airport, and is a center for machine building.

Esbjerg Harbour is the second largest harbour in Denmark (after Aarhus). It serves Maersk Drilling headquarters, and offers the ferry routes Esbjerg–Harwich–Esbjerg, Esbjerg–Faroe IslandsIceland and the regional commuter Esbjerg–Fanø–Esbjerg. For those arriving by pleasure craft, there is a marina along Pier No. 1 with 198 mooring places.[35]

Esbjerg is served by Esbjerg Airport and the nearby Billund Airport, which has far more travel options.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Esbjerg is twinned with:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BEF44: Population 1st January, by urban areas" database from Statistics Denmark
  2. ^ a b Scandinavia. Nagel. 1958. 
  3. ^ Dansk litteraturs historie: 1870–1920. Gyldendal A/S. 2009. p. 14. ISBN 978-87-02-04184-2. 
  4. ^ a b c "Town walk in Esbjerg". Visit Esbjerg. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Esbjerg, Denmark". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Esbjerg" (in Danish). Den Store Danske. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Google Inc. "Esbjerg". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc.,8.45&q=loc:55.483333,8.45&hl=en&t=h&z=12. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Jernbanen og Exnersgade i Esbjerg" (in Danish). Kultirstyrelsen. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Stone & Parnell 2009, p. 99.
  10. ^ "Office Location." Halliburton. Retrieved on 13 January 2009.
  11. ^ Symington, Bain & Bonetto 2013, p. 238.
  12. ^ a b Stone & Parnell 2009, p. 100.
  13. ^ "Torvet 19, bygning 1, Esbjerg" (in Danish). Kultur Styrelsen. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Man meets the sea - Esbjerg". Visit Esbjerg. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "Esbjerg Vandtårn" (in Danish). Esbjerg Museum. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "Amberg's Courthouse in Esbjerg". Visit Esbjerg. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "Kirkens historie" (in Danish). Vor Frelsers Kirke. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Ikke kun om søndagen - Treenighedskirken Esbjerg 1961–2011" (in Danish). Esbjerg Kommune. Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  20. ^ Sommer 2009, p. 448.
  21. ^ "Grundtvigskirken" (in Danish). Historisk Atlas. Retrieved 15 February 2014. 
  22. ^ "Sædden kirke" (in Danish). Nordens kirker. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  23. ^ "Town walk in Esbjerg" (in Danish). Visit Esbjerg. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  24. ^ "Musikhuset Esbjerg" (in Danish). Den Store Danske. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Esbjerg Art Museum". Visit Denmark. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  26. ^ "Fisheries and Maritime Museum - Esbjerg". Visit Denmark. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  27. ^ "Status & Museets historie" (in Danish). Fiskeri- og Søfartsmuseet/Saltvandsakvariet. 
  28. ^ "Esbjerg" (in Danish). Den Store Danske. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  29. ^ "Esbjerg Museum" (in Danish). Visit Esbjerg. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  30. ^ "Følg bøgernes historie ved Bogtryksmuseet i Esbjerg" (in Danish). Bramming Guide. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  31. ^ "Esbjerg - Things to See and Do (Part 1)". Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  32. ^ "Konservatoriet i Esbjerg" (in Danish). Syddansk Musikkonservatorium og Skuespiller skole. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  33. ^ "Esbjerg Energy" (in Danish). Esbjerg Elite Ishockey. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  34. ^ Nordic Ferry Services : Sejlplan og Priser 2010 : Fanøtrafikken Retrieved 25 February 2010
  35. ^ "Esbjerg Søsport - lystbådehavn" (in Danish). Visit Esbjerg. Retrieved 15 February 2014. 
  36. ^ "Kontakty partnerskie Miasta Szczecin". Urząd Miasta Szczecin (in Polish). Archived from the original on 18 August 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Esbjerg at Wikimedia Commons