Kolding is a city located in Southern Jutland (Jylland), Denmark. Often overlooked by tourists, Kolding is the home to some of the most interesting tourist attractions in Southern Jutland (Sydjylland). The town is located in the mouth of Kolding fjord which has a host of outdoor activities. An added benefit in visiting Kolding is its very central location within Denmark, which makes it an ideal home base for the many interesting attraction within the region.
The two primary attractions in Kolding are the impressive Kolding Castle (Koldinghus) and Trapholt Art Museum (Trapholt Kunstmuseum). Visitors to Kolding should definitely make the effort to visit both of these fine attractions.
Koldinghus castle was first founded in 1268, and is very centrally located in downtown Kolding. Koldinghus is one of the few true castles remaining in Denmark. The majority of Danish ‘castles’ are truly manor homes. Koldinghus is a castle in the traditional sense, and has played an important historical role in the history of Denmark and the region. Today the castle is a museum which houses a wide variety of historical and artistic artifacts such as, paintings, sculptures, silverwares and a history of the castle.
Trapholt Art Museum is quite a contrast to the 700 year old castle. The Trapholt museum is dedicated to Danish Modern Furniture Design. The museum has one of the finest collections in all of Denmark. Regardless of your own personal interest in Danish furniture design, Trapholt is well worth a visit simply to see so many creative furniture designs in one place. A visit to the museum will leave you little doubt why the small country of Denmark held such a dominant global position in furniture design during the middle part of the 20th century.
History of Kolding
Little is known of the early beginning of the town of Kolding. Archeological evidence suggests that a functioning town was in existence from the middle of the 12th century. However, the first documented mentioned of the town comes from a document written in 1231. There undoubtedly were people living in the area for quite some time prior to this period, as the mouth of Kolding Fjord is an ideal location for human settlement. Numerous Stone Age archeological finds in the area suggest this to be true.
The 13th century meant drastic growth and change for Kolding with the construction on Koldinghus Castle, a Franciscan monastery and the Church of Saint Nicolai (Sct. Nicolai Kirke). The Church of Saint Nicolai is still a dominant feature of the skyline.
The Middle Ages were a very importance time in Kolding’s history. The central geographical positioning of Kolding was the key to success. Many of Denmark’s Kings would stay for periods of time at Koldinghus castle, and the town received much financial support from the crown. The castle and town were important political strongholds in holding back interests from the Duchies of Schleswig-Holstein (modern day Northern Germany).
Multiple wars with Germany and Sweden in the early to mid-17th century put an end to growth and prosperity. Another factor was the now unquestioned dominance and power of the region around Copenhagen. Danish Kings were less likely than they had been to put large amounts of financial support so far from the capital.
The first and second Schleswig wars, which include the ‘Battle of Kolding’, were devastating to the region. It wasn’t until after these two wars that the town of Kolding started to reinvent itself. For centuries it had been treated primarily as an armed stronghold against the Kings of Schleswig, it wasn’t until after the wars that Kolding began to assert itself as a center of trade and industrial development.
The late 19th century meant rapid growth in population and trade. The town received a gasworks in 1861, a railway in 1870, a waterworks 1886, a power station 1898 and multiple other industries arose such as live cattle trade, a tobacco factory, a brewery, multiple textile mills and manufacturing plants.
The German occupation during WW2 had significant economic consequences for the town of Kolding. During the war Germany had a strong presence in Kolding including the Gestapo headquarters for the region. The result of the strong German activity in Kolding meant the inevitable entwinement of the Kolding’s economy with Germany’s. When Germany collapse in 1945, what had become an important part of Kolding’s economy also collapse. The post war years were met with the closure of many of the factories which were the backbone of Kolding, and difficult economic times continued well into the 1970’s. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that the city truly started to crawl its way back to prosperity.
Since the 1980’s Kolding has undergone a miraculous transformation. Gone are the old derelict buildings from its former glory days. The city we see today is a modern city, which has once again reinvented itself. Kolding has grown to become an important high-tech center for Denmark and Northern Europe. Since the mid-1990s Kolding has had one of the fastest growing populations and economies in Denmark.
The construction of the bridge in the late 1990s from the island of Funen (Fyn) to Zealand (Sjælland) and the bridge from Denmark to Sweden have had an enormous positive effect of to the town. With the construction of the two bridges Kolding has once again regained its position as a central crossroads for not only Denmark, but also Northern Europe.
In 1999 Kolding became a University town when the University of Southern Denmark (Syddansk Universitet) set up a campus in the town. In 2008, Kolding opened an international school known as "The Cosmo". The school is a Cambridge certified English language school primarily for foreign students living in the area.
Seest Fireworks Disaster
On November 3, 2004, Kolding had the unpleasant distinction of making international headlines when the N. P. Johnsen's Fireworks Factory in Seest exploded. Seest is a small suburb of Kolding. The disaster was the largest explosion in Europe since World War 2. Amazingly, the disaster only resulted in the death of 1 firefighter and injuries to an additional 85 people. The early evacuation of around 2000 people most certainly avoided a much greater disaster in terms of human life. The property damage as a result of the explosion is estimated to have been in the region of 100 million Euros.
Nordic Synergy Park
In 2009, the city of Kolding officially announced the ambitious project to develop the Nordic Synergy Park (Synergiparken). The Nordic Synergy Park is a project similar to the Sophia Antipolis Technology Park in France. Both projects hinge on the desire to create living and work places that coexist harmoniously with nature. All buildings and businesses must operate within strict environmentally neutral standards. As with the project in France, the Nordic Synergy Park is focusing on attracting advanced technological and research intensive companies from around the globe. Kolding city officials anticipate the Nordic Synergy Park will create 30000 work places over the next 30 years.