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Hörnum mit Leuchtturm.jpg
Coat of arms of Hörnum
Coat of arms
Hörnum   is located in Germany
Coordinates: 54°45′38″N 8°17′29″E / 54.76056°N 8.29139°E / 54.76056; 8.29139Coordinates: 54°45′38″N 8°17′29″E / 54.76056°N 8.29139°E / 54.76056; 8.29139
Country Germany
State Schleswig-Holstein
District Nordfriesland
Municipal assoc. Landschaft Sylt
 • Mayor Rolf Speth
 • Total 6 km2 (2 sq mi)
Elevation 4 m (13 ft)
Population (2013-12-31)[1]
 • Total 847
 • Density 140/km2 (370/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 25997
Dialling codes 0465122
Vehicle registration NF
Website www.hoernum.de

Hörnum (Sölring Frisian: Hörnem, Danish: Hørnum) is a municipality in the district of Nordfriesland, in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is located on the southern headland of the island of Sylt. The municipality is part of the Amt Landschaft Sylt.


First settlements[edit]

Although fishermen had reportedly settled in the area prior to 1500 AD, the place is first recorded in 1649 as Hornum. The name "Hörnum" was already known to the chronicler Muchel-Madis (* 11 November 1572 in Morsum; † 21 January 1651), who in his chronicles reports a shipwrecking "1571... off Hörnum". In 1648, the area was named "Hörnum" on a map by cartographer Johannes Mejer (1606–1674). The southern tip of the island remained unsettled though for a long time, because not only storm surges but also shifting dunes, which would repeatedly bury houses, made a colonisation difficult. Only in the late 18th century, this effect could be stopped by planting vegetation on the dunes. "On Hörnum", as the entire southern peninsula of Sylt used to be called, there were at first only a few fishermen. A single house stood in the dunes at Budersand from 1765 to 1785. It served for storing flotsam, but was soon torn down by people from Amrum and Rantum. In 1787, only the foundations were left.

Post 1900[edit]

The first regular buildings were erected due to the construction of a Hamburg America Line (HAPAG) pier and the island railway in the early 20th century, those being the meanwhile demolished "Island Station" (Inselbahnhof) and the former HAPAG building, which was later the "Hotel Bettina" and at last the "Hörnumer Fischerreuse". Long since, Hörnum had had a natural harbour east of Budersand, which remained largely unnoticed though. Only after a wooden wharf had been constructed, a regular ship line to Hamburg via Cuxhaven took up operations on 29 June 1901. With this new pier of the seaside resort line Hörnum-Heligoland-Hamburg being active, a small settlement was quickly developed on the Hörnum peninsula. Thus the importance as a port town was also rising and a railway connection to Westerland was established.

As the island was only in 1927 connected to the mainland by the construction of the Hindenburg causeway, this local rail line was greatly popular. 91% of the tourists would use Hörnum as their port of call. Because a road to Westerland was missing though, a narrow-gauge railway was built, which was in use until 1970 and reached beyond Westerland to Germany's northernmost village, List. The track was later demolished and is now used as a bicycle road.

In 1906, the Hörnum water tower was built; after the connection of Hörnum to the island's common water supply it became superfluous and was demolished in 1967.

In 1907, Hörnum got a 33.5 metres tall lighthouse, which was built with serial design. Other such constructions were erected on the island of Pellworm and at Westerhever. From 1918 to 1930, the lighthouse was also used as a school house, the lessons took place at an elevation of 30 meters. At the end of World War I, Hörnum counted 21 inhabitants who were administrated by Rantum. In both World Wars, Hörnum was deemed a strategically important location which needed special defense.

Military importance during the World Wars[edit]

The first barracks were built in 1914 for troops of the so-called "Island Guard". At the beginning of the Great War, island guards were stationed on Amrum, Sylt and Rømø (today in Denmark), who used light signals to communicate. From the List "Elbow" peninsula in the north to Hörnum in the south, bunkers and shelters were dug into the dunes of Sylt and wired with telephone lines. Mostly elderly, local soldiers were tasked with searching the horizon for hostile troops, but the island did not witness any combat.

During World War II, troops were deployed to the village. The port was mainly used by the Kriegsmarine and a small air field for minor planes was constructed. In 1935, the Luftwaffe had built a naval air station and the "Hörnum Military Settlement (Militärische Siedlung Hörnum)" as a preparation for the war. The living quarters, planned by architect Ferdinand Keilmann, consisted of two parts: the so-called "Red Settlement", constructed in brick and the "White settlement," built from whitewashed brick. The war prevented the project from being finished and so the gaps in the colony, which was designed as a garden city, are now filled with post-war buildings. The number of inhabitants in Hörnum exploded due to the opening of the naval air station and the adjacent quarters and rose above 1,000 when the troops brought their families to the island. Shortly after, electricity was available from a local power station, and in 1941 Hörnum was connected to Westerland's water supply.

Hörnum's seaplane base was the location of the first bombs dropped on German soil during the Second World War, on the night of 19 March 1940 during a raid by No 61 Squadron RAF's Handley Page Hampdens based at RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire, England.

Post war era[edit]

In 1947, Hörnum split from the neighbouring municipality of Rantum and became independent. Only two years later, the village was awarded the title Nordseebad (North Sea resort). An influx of tourists and "New Hörnumers" set in. In 1947, the village briefly provided shelter for more than 2000 refugees from Germany's former eastern territories and also 40 families from Heligoland dwelt there after the evacuation of their island.

In 1948, a wooden hut was erected with donations from Norway and consecrated as a church. It was named St. Martin. When St. Thomas' church was built in 1970, the St. Martin building shortly served as a kindergarten and a storage for Strandkorb beach chairs. Since 1974, this so-called Norwegian House is seat of the Wadden Sea Conservation Station (Schutzstation Wattenmeer), an environmental protection society, and since 1989 also serves as a youth club. In 1985, the hut was named after the Hörnum teacher and environmentalist Kuno Ehlfeldt.

Also in 1948, Hörnum was connected to the island's road network. The original concrete slabs track consisted of a single lane and was broadened in 1969.

In 1960, the Kersiegsiedlung colony, known for its thatched roofs, was built in the dunes. The Catholic St. Joseph's church followed in 1962 and in 1969/1970 the Evangilical St. Thomas' church was built according to a design by Niebüll based architect Martin-Bernhard Christiansen. The latter building constitutes Schleswig-Holstein's youngest historically preserved church. It is built in the shape of a white sail. Another notability is the ex-voto ship which hangs inside the church house — a scale model of the paddlesteamer "Cobra", a Hamburg America Line ship, which from 1901 on contributed greatly to the exploration and development of the Hörnum area.

Touristical development since the 1970s[edit]

In the mid-1970s a spa and therapy centre was built and opened in 1977.

In 1994, the Pidder Lüng Barracks, which had replaced the former naval station, were closed. After the demolition of all buildings on the site, a golf course with an adjacent five stars hotel was built there.

In 2002, the Hörnum harbour was slightly renovated. The Hörnum Yacht Club was created and a new ticket vending facility for Adler shippings was opened. Later, several neighbourhoods in Hörnum were also renovated.

In 1999, the old therapy centre was closed as it dd nt provide modern standards for cures any more and was in deficit. In its place, a hotel is being constructed by the Swiss Hapimag Group, which is due to open in 2009.


Of the twelve seats in the municipality council, the AWGH association holds six seats, CDU and SPD each hold two and the FBGH association and the SSW hold one seat since the municipal elections of 2008.


Blazon: Or, a lighthouse gules with a band argent, emitting rays of four-pointed mullets gules. A base azure, therein a conch horn or.[2]

Tourism and sights[edit]

Hörnum's original economic dependence on fishery and also whaling has been relieved by tourism as the main means of income. The beaches east and west of the village, the port and the dunes provide the village's assetts. A popular route for mudflat hiking leads along the eastern shore to Rantum. The Schutzstation Wattenmeer offers information on the Wadden Sea and the salt marshes and promotes the protection of the local landscape among tourists. Another attraction is the hiking around the Hörnum-Odde, the island's southernmost edge, which due to erosion is constantly shrinking. After the storm Erwin in winter 2005, the Hörnum-Odde had lost 20 metres of land alone. From this southern headland, a good view may be had on the neighbouring islands of Föhr and Amrum.


The chronicles of Hörnum provide ample space for fairy tales. Repeatedly, witches are mentioned who used to dance in the dunes, but also the souls of shipwrecked sailors who had been slain by pirates and robbers and most of all the so-called Dikjendälmann, a sort of goblin.


External links[edit]