3.1 Cross section Fanø

1. Map of the cross- section

The Danish cross-section consist of an East-West cross section from the southern part of Fanø into Ribe. This example shows a part of Sønderho at Fanø.

The East-West cross-section was chosen for the following reasons:

  • The island Fanø has a special history. Until 1741 it was royal hunting ground, but when the Danish crown in 1741 wished to sell the island, the inhabitants bought the island themselves. The inhabitants and the island benefited and became wealthy in the 17th and 18th century. The island flourished on trade and shipping, and they had the second largest trading fleet next to Copenhagen’s fleet.

  • The culture and nature of Fanø is special in a Danish context. The buildings of the two large towns, Nordby and Sønderho, have a special style, and the municipality tries to legislate on the building and development of Fanø, so this special style is kept and maintained.

  • On the mainland Ribe stream leads in to Ribe, which is the oldest town in Denmark. Accordingly, Ribe is archaeologically important, and the present town is still a witness of the Danish Viking Age and Medieval Age. The town structure is old, and the core of the town has mainly been preserved, as it was.

  • Ribe stream runs from the Wadden Sea into Ribe. The stream is regulated in order to let both the farmers and town benefit from it. The farmers need a lower water level in order to grow their crops, but the town needs a higher water level in order to exist, since the town is built on a cultural swamp.

  • The inhabitants of Fanø wish to remain one municipality after 2007, when the Danish structural reform has been applied. Since the municipalities are going to administer the cultural environment after 2007, it is important to make the municipalities aware of their tasks.


2. Description

The southern part of Fanø seen from above. Here the town of Sønderho is protected by the dikes and the sand dunes.

The town of Sønderho is characterised by a labyrinthine structure, as well as many well-preserved and listed houses.

Behind Sønderho with the houses built in the Sønderho style, you see the summer cottage area. That area is characterised by heath, dunes, marsh and an excellent beach.

Some of the special characteristics of Fanø and consequently Sønderho are well known and well promoted: The Fanø costume, thatched houses with dogs in the windows, weather cocks are here weather ships, and finally the fleet, the skippers and the trade.

Examples of the old Sønderho style:
These houses are typical of the Sønderho style, and the pictures also illustrate the narrow and labyrinthine street structure of the town.


The Sønderho style is not just Danish. The famous Sønderho inn is built in Frisian style in the end of the 17th century and decorated with Dutch imported tiles inside. This shows the close connection and the trade inside the Wadden Sea region.

Examples from the nature of Fanø and Sønderho:

Vindgab Bjerge                                                                    Havside Bjerge

The beach

This special nature attracts tourists and inhabitants to Fanø. The municipality tries to solve the planning issues when building new summer cottages by legislating on the building style. The following pictures show a summer cottage under construction as well as summer cottages and a former seaside hotel in the landscape.


3. SWOT-analysis

For the island of Sønderho a SWOT-analysis will have to consider the following aspects:


  • Sønderho and Fanø have a well-preserved culture and environment, i.e. the Sønderho-style.

  • The inhabitants are mainly wealthy people with a mental and social surplus.

  • The municipality of Sønderho is aware of its cultural heritage. They have made special guidelines for building and restoration; the new buildings are erected with respect to the culture and history.

  • Fanø is a tourist magnet, which brings money to the island.


  • There are many old buildings; they will need restoration and maintenance.

  • Too many tourists in the summer can keep people away from settling down on a permanent basis. The result could be declining economy in tax incomes etc.

  • The new summer cottages built in “old style” make it difficult to distinguish between different ages.

  • The nature could be crowded with buildings


  • It should be possible to keep Fanø and Sønderho attractive for permanent settlers.

  • It should be possible to keep a sensible balance between tourists and permanent settlers.

  • Politicians and planners have to make sure that Fanø is technologically equal to the main land, i.e. has quick Internet connections etc. which make working and settling there attractive.

  • Keep Sønderho as a re-creative area


  • Natural catastrophes like flooding, hurricanes and rising sea level.

  • Tourist facilities, which do not include consideration to the cultural environment.

  • If someone builds too tall, large and modern houses.

4. Conclusion

Sønderho has a unique history and is part of another unified whole; i.e. Fanø. The awareness of this history and culture is very high among the inhabitants of Fanø. They are also aware of their connection to the Wadden Sea, where Fanø is a result of this Sea, and adapted to its tidings, flooding, and continuous change of landscape.

The landscape at Fanø is not similar to the landscape on the mainland. The wide and long sandy beach is among the finest in Denmark, and the curvy dunes are unlike anything else seen in the Danish Wadden Sea area.

Besides the landscape Fanø is characterised by a special style of building and living. The houses of Fanø are inspired by other Wadden Sea areas, which is due to the seafaring of the Fanø inhabitants until the beginning of the 20th century. The local authorities are also aware of this significant culture. Generally local authorities have made special legislations regarding buildings etc. In this area the nature is both a threat and strength since nature works with and against the development. The different authorities will have to meet the challenges of maintaining a development in the areas alongside preserving the cultural environments.