Sønderho is the southernmost village on the island of Fanø. It is a small little town but it is a pretty town and the village actually won the title as Denmark’s most beautiful village in 2011. So it is worth heading down south to walk around the village as it is truly one of the best preserved old villages in Denmark.
The village of Sønderho was originally founded around 1500 and in the first centuries it was a poor place belonging to the king of Denmark. The island of Fanø has a very poor soil with a lot of sand which has blown in from the beaches. The poor quality of the soil meant it was hard to make a living as a farmer and many of the locals made their living from fishing with just a little bit of farming on the side. Not much happened for many centuries on the island.
The fortunes of the village of Sønderho and the island of Fanø as a whole finally came in 1741. The king was short of cash and had to sell some of his belongings – including the island of Fanø. The people of the island pooled all their wealth and went to the nearby village of Ribe to try and buy the island so they would be free men on their own land. They were fortunate and had just enough money to buy the island.
After the islanders bought the island a boom started. The village of Sønderho became the main harbor on the island and most of the men went into shipping. They started making significantly more than they used to when they were farming the poor soil and catching the fish in the waters around the island.
The economic boom meant there was money to build new, bigger and better houses in the village. The village did just this in the following century. The village became ripe with pretty thatches roof houses everywhere at a bigger size than most village houses in the rest of the country at the time.
The good times for the village of Sønderho didn’t last – on the coast of Jutland just off shore from Fanø a new harbor was created and a town was established called Esbjerg. The harbor here was far superior to the small harbor of Sønderho and the shipping moved to the modern town. The economy of Sønderho no longer flourished and the village stopped expanding. This is fortunate for anybody visiting today – since the lack of development meant most of the old houses have been preserved till today – and it is a wonderful place to go and wonder around the old thatches roof houses.
The villagers make sure they preserve a lot of the history of their village and there are some special old houses they try to preserve. It is definitely worth heading a bit outside the town and has a look at the old windmill of Sønderho or the old rescue station where the rescue boat is parked. Another great little sight is the old fire station in the middle of the village.