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Church of Sct. Jacob in Varde
Church of Sct. Jacob in Varde
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Motto: Varde, town of commerce or We in nature
Location of Varde
Coordinates: 55°37′N 8°29′E / 55.617°N 8.483°E / 55.617; 8.483
 • Mayor Erik Buhl Nielsen
 • Municipality of Varde 1,240 km2 (480 sq mi)
Population (2014/15)
 • Total 13,771
 • Municipality of Varde 50,122
Time zone +1

Varde[1] is a Danish town in southwestern Jutland approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) north of the Danish port town of Esbjerg. The city is home to 13.771 inhabitants (2015) and is the primary city in the municipality also named Varde, which is part of Region Syddanmark, the Southern part of Jutland plus the island of Funen. The municipality has decided to put greater focus on the fact, that Varde is located in an area with versatile nature and possibilities linked to this. Because of this the motto of Varde "Varde, town of commerce" is being challenged by the new common motto "We in nature".[2]

The town is located by Varde stream/river and has a town center shape by an old market town environment. This makes it a popular and well visited vacation- and tourist destination, as it is also a short distance away from the beaches by the North Sea. Vardes age is not known precisely, but Varde is mentioned in written sources from 1107, and is therefore thought have been founded sometime in the early Middle Ages.

Early on the name of Varde is presented in 2 different versions "Warwath" and "Warwik." War is identical in both and is believed to mean grassland, maybe beach or in other ways uncultivated area. The suffixes "wath" and "wick" are believed to mean respectively ford and inlet. The differing versions of the name occur quite naturally, depending on where you are located "on ground" or "on water".[3]

As with other older Danish towns, Varde is located, where the countryside in different ways favors human settlement and other human activity. The town was founded near a stream allowing a convenient port for ships near a place, where north and south bound traffic by land had an important ford/crossing, which was later replaced with a bridge.

The history of Varde[edit]

Varde was from olden times protected against sudden attacks from outsiders, partly because of its distance from the shore and partly because of its neighbourship with the built royal castle/fortress/fort/estate (Vardehus). Vardehus was the administrative center of the district and from this base of power a royal official governed the shire of Varde a sizeable area corresponding to the former Ribe Amt. On the greater scale Varde has never been a big town, but the fact that Varde already in the early Middle Ages had 2 churches, means that it had some status.

Borough/Market town 1442[edit]

The borough sigil of Varde is the oldest town arms in Denmark. It depicts a blue shield with a walking golden leopard with a red tongue. It looks somewhat like a lion, but golden leopard is the official denomination.

From the beginning, commerce together with arts and crafts have been closely linked to being a town and when Christopher of Bavaria in August 1442 awarded Varde its first borough/market town privileges, it had already functioned as a borough/market town for a long time. Most importantly this meant, that peasants trading goods in country stores was outlawed, but at the same time, that the merchants of the town were now officially recognized as having exclusive rights to conducting trade in the town. Although the royal letter of privilege from 1442 has been long lost, the text is known from a transcript from 1648.

Royal castles by the stream/river[edit]

Varde - The old town hall, with the black pearl in front

Written sources from the 12th century repeatedly mention the royal official/caretaker in Varde. In his capacity of being the representative of the king in the shire of Varde, this high level official must have resided in the local royal estate/castle – Vardehus. The oldest castle lay to the vest of the town, by the stream/river of Varde.

Around the beginning of the 14th century Vardehus was moved to an islet in the stream/river near the southern edge of the town. During an uprising in 1439 this new Vardehus II was stormed, pillaged and destroyed by rebel farmers. Later that same year the council of the state retaliated by burning down the town of Varde. Lesser excavations have been made on both sites, and the findings are kept in Varde museum. It is also known, that during the Viking ages there was a camp near the school of Sct. Jacob.

The town square of Varde[edit]

By the town square of Varde lays amongst others the Church of Sct. Jacob from the 12th century, Sillasens house from 1797, the old town hall from 1872 and Den Schultzske Gaard 1796/97.

Around 1900 there was a livestock market on the town square, and for a period in the middle of the 20th century a bus station. 2014/2015 the town square was renovated/renewed as it also was in 2003. 2003 landscape architect Charlotte Horn was inspired by the stream/river of Varde and the characteristic Varde clam with the black pearl, when reshaping the town square. In front of the old town hall of Varde is a basin with a big black round rock symbolizing the Varde pearl. From here a stream symbolizing the stream/river of Varde runs through a part of the town square. The webcam of the library of Varde takes pictures of the square around the clock and here the "stream" is visible.

The municipality of Varde[edit]

Tyrrestrup painting at night at the new town hall of Varde

The current municipality of Varde was formed in 2007, following structural reforms in Denmark, which meant that the old municipality of Varde was merged with the municipalities of Blaabjerg, Blåvandshuk, Helle and Ølgod, which together formed fifth biggest municipality in Denmark measuring in square kilometres, with 1,240 square kilometres (480 sq mi).

Varde is the main town in the municipality of Varde and is with its 13,771 inhabitants the biggest town in the municipality, followed by Ølgod and Oksbøl with respectively 3853 and 2852 inhabitants. All in all there are 50.122 inhabitants with permanent residence in the municipality of Varde. These are, in vacation periods, supplemented by large quantities of tourists visiting the coastal region of Varde, especially in and around the towns of Blåvand(Oksby), Henne Strand and Vejers Strand, that grow accordingly.

The town hall of the municipality of Varde[4] is at home at Bytoften 2 in Varde, where the new town hall opened its doors in the summer of 2015. During the opening of the new facilities the municipality received a work of art from local artist Hans Tyrrestrup, which it had commissioned, consisting of one poem and three paintings under the title "Sonate for sol," which means "Sonata for the sun." This work of art now adorns the council chamber of the town hall.


Red Deer in Varde nature
Vejers beach
Tirpitz position

Varde stretches from Ansager in the east to Blåvands Huk in the west and from Skallingen in the south to Nymindegab/Ølgod in the north. A variety of different types of landscape types are thus at home in Varde, partly due to the size of the municipality.

Following the vision/motto "We in nature" the eyes have again been opened to the possibilities in the diverseness and the unspoiledness of Varde nature. This has opened for investments to make the nature accessible to visitors, both permanent residents and vacationers.

At the municipality of Varde "Wadden Sea National park,"[5] which in June 2014, together with areas of the Wadden Sea in Germany and the Netherlands, was declared world heritage by UNESCO, meets "Naturpark Vesterhavet,"[6] which stretches across an area of 22.500 hectares between Blåvands Huk and Nymindegab. The parks along the western shores of Varde offer an array of different types of landscapes[7] e.g. dune landscapes, heath, dune plantations, coastal lakes, and for the wadden sea, vast areas of mud flats, where the guest can experience the exposed seabed.

Where national park meets nature park you can also experience the western tip of Denmark, adorned by the lighthouse of Blåvand, with the purpose of guiding ships past Horns Rev, where the sandbank(s) stretch far out into the ocean. If you peer across the ocean from the lighthouse you can often see the wind farms of Horns Rev.

Sizeable areas along the coast of Varde are laid out as training areas for the Danish military, but as long as the red signal has not been hoisted,[8] it is accessible to visitors of all types. There are 3 military barracks in the municipality of Varde which can be found in Varde, Oksbøl and Nymindegab. The barracks of Nymindegab[9] look differently from other Danish barracks in general, as it was built in 1941 by the German Wehrmacht as a school for anti-aircraft personnel. The barracks were meant to look like a small village, in order not to be bombed by the allied or British bombers, which it never was.

Just near the barracks of Nymindegab lay the Atlantic Wall,[10] stretching from Nordkap in Norway to the Pyrenees by the Spanish border. Because of this bunkers lay along the coast as a constant reminder of WW2. Among these the Tirpitz-position (in German: Batterie Vogelsnest), which was being built (but never finished) in order to protect the port of Esbjerg.

Popular places in and around Varde[edit]

Lighthouse in Blåvand(Varde)
Filsø recovering
  • The Museum of Varde town and municipality operates as an umbrella for the museums in the municipality of Varde, among these are e.g. Varde Museum, the Tirpitz-position, Nymindegab museum, the Danish amber museum in Oksbøl and more.[11][12]
  • The Tirpitz-position is (2015) under reconstruction and is, when reconstructed, apart from the bunker itself, meant to hold exhibitions about the Atlantic Wall, life on the western coast of Denmark and one of the most beautiful amber collections in the world.
  • Varde Minitown* in the Arnbjergparken in Varde is a miniature of Varde anno 1866 in the scale 1:10, which is maintained and built by 12 voluntary "mini-masons," whose work, making the miniature houses, you can observe from May to October at their workshop in Varde.
  • Blåvands Huk/ The lighthouse of Blåvand,[13] the western tip of Denmark, overlooking the wind farms of Horns Rev.
  • The beaches along the shore(s) of Varde are among the top crowd pullers/attractions in Varde and a big part of why Varde is a popular tourist destination. Among these are the broad white beaches of Blåvand, Vejers Strand and Henne Strand, strand meaning beach in Danish.
  • Filsø was once the second largest lake in Denmark, until it, in the middle of the 18th century, was contained and used for agricultural purposes. In 2010 the area was bought up by the nature fund of "Aage W. Jensen Filsø Avlsgods" with the purpose of restoring Filsø to its original state.
  • Varde Sommerspil in Varde is held by and performed by the biggest amateur theatre group in Denmark, named "7-kanten" and has for many years been a crowd puller in the summer months.
  • Nationalpark Vadehavet (Wadden Sea National park, UNESCO world heritage). Mud flats from Varde in the north to the Netherlands in the south.
  • Naturpark Vesterhavet (Vesterhavet/North Sea Nature Park) – 22.500 hectares of nature park between Blåvands Huk and Nymindegab.
  • Skallingen – relatively newly formed land, which was created by/after a storm surge in 1634, by sediment left behind by the retracting ocean. It is still under transformation and was home to the last minefield in Denmark. Post 2000 the area was demined and opened to the public.

Arts and building style[edit]

Reflections - by Otto William Frello
Nymindegab (Laurits Tuxen)

Otto William Frello (died 2015), local artist with permanent exhibition at Varde Museum.[14] Frello is known for his surreal, but at the same time very realistic and detailed paintings.[15]

Laurits Tuxen is known as one of the "Skagensmalernepainters of Skagen," but already in 1879 visited Nymindegab, where he was one of the founding fathers of the painter colony Nymindegabmalerne.[16] In the summer months the painters rented rooms at the Nymindegab Inn, where they sketched drawings/drafts for paintings, which were finished when they returned to Copenhagen for the winter. Some of Tuxens paintings can be seen at Nymindegab Museum.

Vestjyllands Kunstmuseum (Janus Bygningen) – The Art Museum of western Jutland (The Janus Building)[17] in Tistrup, between Varde and Ølgod, is home to a collection of 2000 works, primarily contemporary art and varying temporary exhibitions.

Varde classicism[edit]

As Varde has burned several times many of the buildings were built in the late 18th century and in the beginning of the 19th century.[18] Among these we find Sillasens Hus (Sillasens house) adjacent to the town square and the Kampmannske Gaard (Kampmannske estate). The Danish classicism dictated that house walls were to be plastered, but this was not done in Varde, as a breakthrough in the mass production of bricks and tiles had been made at the time. Instead details were more prominently highlighted, which resulted in red walls, red tiles and an abundance of details.

Businesses and Industry[edit]

The Businesses and Industries in Varde can somewhat be divided into 5 pillars, where 4 categories according to Kontur 2014[19] is above the national average. These are the production of food products/agriculture, furniture/clothing, tourism and construction/housing.

Larger businesses[edit]

Among the larger businesses in the municipality of Varde we find Nobia, owner of e.g. the kitchen brands HTH and Invita with about 2000 employees in Denmark. BoConcept, furniture and accessories business. The Danish part of BoConcepts production is located in Ølgod. Fibervisions, global leader in the area of bicomponent fibers, used in everything from tea bags to fibreboards. Titan Europe, producer of turbine towers, subcontractor to Titan Wind Energy.


Varde is one of the largest tourism municipalities[20] in Denmark, which also means that it encompasses a few/several larger tourism related businesses. Within this category we find Hvidbjerg Strand Feriepark (Blåvand Badeland), number 42 on the most visited attraction list of 2013 from VisitDenmark, the cottage rental agencies, Dayz Seawest in Nymindegab and businesses who supplement these and cater to tourists visiting the area.


Following the business development project Naturen til bords a community of interests was formed named Sydvestjyske Smagsoplevelser[21] – Taste experiences of South-western Jutland(roughly translated) in order to carry forward and promote the project after release of the cooking book Naturen til bords. Stakeholders in the community include Varde ådal lam(lamb), Hr. Skov in Blåvand(delicacies and restaurant), Henne Kirkeby Inn(prominent restaurant), NaturKulturVarde(NatureCultureVarde) and many more.

Danish army[edit]

The Danish army has 3-4 garrisons in the municipality of Varde, specifically Varde, Oksbøl and Nymindegab. Following the "Military/Defense- settlement of 2013"[22] the Hærens Sergeantskole moved from Sønderborg to the barracks in Varde, which means that Hærens Sergeantskole, Hærens Efterretningscenter and the Hærens Kamp- og Ildstøttecenter are at home in the municipality of Varde. In addition to this the Hjemmeværnsskolen is located in Nymindegab.


OTB in Varde
Sunset in coastal region of Varde(kommune)

With a long and broad high quality beach stretching from Skallingen in the south to Nymindegab in the north and with its characteristic look, the coastal area of Varde in the beginning primarily attracted artists, who found inspiration in the landscape and thereby were among the first, together with the bourgeoisie, to initiate the building of cottages for recreational purposes along the coast of Varde. In Denmark in the 1920s the common worker was awarded 2 weeks of vacation, which put the building of cottages along the coast in motion and made the tourism industry in Varde what it is today. A target destination could have been the Henne Mølleå Badehotel (seaside hotel), designed by Poul Henningsen in 1935.[23]

Varde municipality is the largest coastal tourism municipality[24] in Denmark and especially attracts tourists to the coastal destinations of Blåvand, Vejers Strand and Henne Strand. The tourists who stay in Varde municipality primarily stay in seaside cottages and among these tourists the German segment is by far the biggest, although there has also been reported a rise in the amount of guests from Norway and the Danes themselves.

Transport and Infrastructure[edit]


Most traffic from and to Varde goes via primary route 11, which starts in Tønder goes via Varde all the way to Aalborg in northern Jutland. Primary route 11 crosses the E20 (the Esbjerg highway) near Korskro, from where there is approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) to Varde via primary route 11.


It is possible to reach Varde via Esbjerg or Skjern. Apart from that the "Vestbanen" connects Varde with Oksbøl in the western and Nørre Nebel in the north-western part of the municipality.


In recent years the municipality of Varde has widened/expanded its net of bicycle roads significantly,[25] in large degree through the goodwill of citizens and landowners, whereby the municipality has been able to build 20 kilometres (12 mi) of bicycle road between Varde and Nørre Nebel and about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) between Varde and Næsbjerg. This means that you´re now able to reach almost all corners of Varde by bike as there was already about 25 kilometres (16 mi) of bicycle road between Varde and Blåvand via Oksbøl and approximately 20 km of bicycle road between Varde and Esbjerg.


If you enjoy hiking, the North Sea trail[26] goes through the municipality of Varde, the bicoastal "kyst til kyst stien"[27] goes from Blåvand in the west to Vejle in the east and along with these a variety of local hiking trails.


Mountainbiking in Varde

Speedway is generally a sport that is more prominent in the municipality of Varde, than in most other Danish municipalities.

Furthermore, the nature in and around Varde favours outdoor sports like:

  • Cycling/Mountainbiking
  • Beach related sports
  • Alternative sports
  • Fishing, golf, hunting.
  • skydiving at Varde Faldskærmsklub

Festivals and annual events[edit]

Varde Open Air
Varde Sommerspil
  • Varde Open Air – Music festival
  • Varde Sommerspil – Musical taking place in July
  • Day of the forest, lake, sea and stream/river
  • Red deer festival in Vejers
  • The amber festival
  • The lamb festival
  • The Wadden Sea festival
  • The sheep market in Ho
  • The elf/goblin triathlon
  • Eventcalendar[28]



  1. ^ "Dansk Center for Byhistorie". Danmarks Købstæder: Varde. Dansk Center for Byhistorie. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  2. ^ "Vi i naturen/Municipality of Varde". Vi skaber bevægelse i naturen. Varde Kommune. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  3. ^ "Municipality of Varde". NaturKulturKanon - Varde Kommune. Varde Kommune. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  4. ^ "Municipality of Varde". Forside - Varde Kommune. Varde Kommune. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  5. ^ "Nationalpark Vadehavet". Nationalpark Vadehavet. Nationalpark Vadehavet/Naturstyrelsen. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  6. ^ "Naturpark Vesterhavet". Naturpark Vesterhavet. Naturpark Vesterhavet. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  7. ^ "Municipality of Varde". NaturKulturKanon - Varde. Varde Kommune. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  8. ^ "Information to the public about live firing on Kallesmærsk hede.". Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  9. ^ "Municipality of Varde". NaturKulturKanon - Varde Kommune. Varde Kommune. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  10. ^ "Municipality of Varde". NaturKulturKanon - Varde Kommune. Varde Kommune. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  11. ^ "Museet for Varde by og omegn". Museet for Varde by og omegn. Museet for Varde by og omegn. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  12. ^ "VisitWestDenmark". Guide 2015. VisitWestDenmark. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  13. ^ "Municipality of Varde". NaturKulturKanon - Varde Kommune. Varde Kommune. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  14. ^ "Museet for Varde by og omegn". Otto Frello - Udstillinger. Museet for Varde by og omegn. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  15. ^ "Otto". Otto Frellos Malerier. Varde Museum. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  16. ^ "Museet for Varde by og omegn". Nymindegab - en malermesters pensel værdig. Museet for Varde by og omegn. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  17. ^ "Municipality of Varde". NaturKulturKanon - Varde Kommune. Varde Kommune. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  18. ^ "Danmarks Radio/Holger Grumme". DR-tv. DR-tv. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  19. ^ "Region Syddanmark". Kontur 2014 Varde. Region Syddanmark. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  20. ^ "VisitWestDenmark". VisitWestDenmark. VisitWestDenmark. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  21. ^ "Sydvestjyske Smagsoplevelser". Sydvestjyske Smagsoplevelser. Destination Sydvestjylland. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  22. ^ "". To store centre og sergeantskolen samles i Vestjylland. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  23. ^ "Municipality of Varde". NaturKulturKanon - Varde kommune. Municipality of Varde. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  24. ^ "Municipality of Varde". Varde vil lokke flere turister til. Varde Kommune. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  25. ^ "Cykelruter i Vare Kommune". Cykelruter i Vare Kommune. VisitWestDenmark. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  26. ^ "North Sea Trail". North Sea Trail. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  27. ^ "Doesn´t say". The Coast to Coast trail. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  28. ^ "Det sker - Varde Kommune". Det sker - Varde Kommune. Varde Kommune. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 


External links[edit]

Media related to Varde at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 55°38′N 08°29′E / 55.633°N 8.483°E / 55.633; 8.483

These external links are Danish, but may have English translations.