Getting to Know Kolding in Denmark: A City Walk

Worldwide Denmark Kolding
Getting to Know Kolding in Denmark: A City Walk

Parks, an historic art route, a lake and a castle – Kolding has much to entertain its visitors.

Kolding is a port situated at the mouth of the Kolding fjord. During the Middle Ages it was favoured by Danish royalty and prospered through their financial support. But since Copenhagen became Denmark’s capital it has experienced some highs and lows in particular its economic collapse during the Second World War. Then, during the 1980s it was re-invented to become the modern city it is today. Once again it is at the central crossroads of both Denmark and Northern Europe due to its central location in Southern Jutland. Yet it is often overlooked despite being home to one of the most interesting tourist attractions in Denmark, Koldinghus, its castle. I started my exploration of the town from my hotel, the Comwell Kolding, which was within walking distance of the town. I approached the town centre through Byparken West, one of Kolding’s City Parks.

Panoramic View of Kolding from the Giants' Tower in Koldinghus, Kolding in Denmark
Panoramic View of Kolding from the Giants' Tower in Koldinghus, Kolding in Denmark

Byparken West in Kolding

This pretty park is probably more popular with local people than it is with tourists but it is a pleasant place for a picnic or simply to sit and enjoy the parkland surroundings while sipping a coffee from the small café. The central feature of this park is the lake – popular for boating in the summer and skating in the winter. There is a circular walk through the trees that surround the lake and play areas for children. Close to the perimeter at the far end of this park is part of the "Kunstkvarter" an historical art route.

Byparken West in Kolding, Denmark
Byparken West in Kolding, Denmark

Kunstkvarter in Kolding

Kunstkvarter is an historical art route that celebrates companies and people associated with Kolding’s past. It is the result of a collaboration with the German sculptor Henrik Fischer and the Kolding Municipality whereby the old companies and significant people are associated with a specific work of art. I discovered the Washing Woman (Vaskekonen) on H C Petersens Vej. She celebrates an old soap factory, Kaalunds Sæbefabrikker A/S (1886-1977), once one of the most important soap manufacturers in Denmark. Close by is Princess on MC a sculpture commissioned by the Kolding motorcycle club. This walking sculpture finally came to its permanent position here. A building of note on the same street is El-Museet (Electric Museum). This outdoor museum cabinet has information about electrical effects and the old Kolding Landsogn's Electricity Works.

The Washing Woman in Kolding, Denmark
The Washing Woman in Kolding, Denmark

Kunstkvarter continues into Graacksvej which features four stoneware reliefs on a wall behind some of the houses on Fredericiagade. These plaques represent a tribute to residents on both roads. At the top of Graacksvej's Pottery Factory is another installation by Henrik Fischer, the impressive gable art, Dancing Flowers. It celebrates the potter Henrich Andreas Graack (1856-1948). Graack, who lived on Fredericiagade, owned Graacksvej's Pottery Factory which produced flower dishes during the period 1920 to 1925 and inspired this work of ark. The top of Graacksvej is close to Castle Lake.

Dancing Flower in Kolding, Denmark
Dancing Flower in Kolding, Denmark

Castle Lake in Kolding

Castle Lake (Slotssøen) is a small lake in the grounds of Kolding Castle. The lake, constructed by Queen Dorothea during the sixteenth century as a mill pond for the castle’s mill. Since then, the size of this lake has been reduced to facilitate a car park and ring road. As the lake is still the property of the Danish monarch fishing and sailing are not allowed on its waters. On old regulation required a rowing boat should be moored on the lake just in case a royal guest decides to take a fishing trip on the lake. This regulation was repealed but the rowing boat remains, funded by St. Georg's Guild in Kolding. The three-kilometer walk around the lake is peppered with interesting buildings including the castle itself and a former hospital for the poor. During the summer months, June to August a series of free Summer by the Lake concerts are held. After strolling around the lake, I made my way up to the castle.

Castle Lake in Kolding
Castle Lake in Kolding

The Castle in Kolding

The original castle in Kolding, popularly known as Koldinghus was founded in 1268. It is one of the few true castles in Denmark and part of the Royal Danish Collection which also includes two sites in Copenhagen, Rosenborg Castle, the Amalienborg Museum. Since it was built the castle has undergone multiple renovations and restorations. In particular a major conversion during the sixteenth century when it was converted from a medieval stronghold to a palace fit for the Danish monarchy. When the castle suffered a devasting fire at the beginning of the nineteenth century it was left in ruins for nearly a hundred years. This picturesque castle was finally restored in 1993. A sensitive, award-winning restoration that has preserved the old ruins under a roof supported by internal pillars. Walkways allow visitors to view the restoration from several vantage points. They also lead to permanent and temporary exhibitions. The former include the flora Danica collection of porcelain dinnerware in the Library Hall. There are also workshops where visitors can learn ancient crafts or dress up in costumes of bygone eras. I resisted the latter temptation as I had already been engrossed in the castle for ages. I walked back towards the entrance to the stable yard which now houses a branch of Museum Kolding.

The Flora Danica Collection in the Library Hall at Koldinghus in Kolding, Denmark
The Flora Danica Collection in the Library Hall at Koldinghus in Kolding, Denmark

Museum Kolding in the Stable Yard in Kolding

Museum Kolding is comprised of three separate expositions, Skamlingsbanken, the UNESCO town of Christiansfeld and the Stable Yard at Koldinghus (Staldgården). The Stable Yard is the large white building below the castle which was built during the seventeenth century to replace a half-timbered building, the original stables for the royal horses. During the Second World War it was seized by the Gestapo and used as their headquarters. Today this building houses a museum that recalls the period of German occupation in Kolding, embracing new technology to bring this era to life. It includes a prison cell that has been preserved as it was then. The names and inscriptions scratched on the walls by prisoners are still visible. After exploring this very moving exposition I walked into the town to visit another iconic building, the Church of Saint Nikolai.

Inside Museum Kolding  in the Stable Yard in Kolding, Denmark
Inside Museum Kolding in the Stable Yard in Kolding, Denmark

The Church of Saint Nikolai in Kolding

The Church of Saint Nikolai is the largest church in Kolding but it is not the original fourteenth century church. This church was a complete rebuild in 1885. But it is still worth going inside to admire what are reputedly the most beautiful stained-glass windows in Denmark. Not far from this church is the City Hall.

Church of Saint Nikolai in Kolding
Church of Saint Nikolai in Kolding

City Hall in Kolding

The City Hall (Rådhuset) occupies one side of a small city square. There has been a city square here since the beginning of the sixteenth century but this is not the original building which has been rebuilt and modernised several times. The final version was completed in 1924. A charming little statue at the front of the building (or is the back?) was created by Anne-Marie Carl Nielsen in 1898. Next to the City Hall is an impressive timber-framed building known as Borchs Farm.

City Hall in Kolding
City Hall in Kolding

Borchs Farm in Kolding

Borchs Farm (Borchs Hus or Borchs Gård) was built in 1595 and incorporated a pharmacy and a wine cellar until 1674 and the wine cellar and distillery remained until 1796. The farmhouse was part of a complex of stables and warehouses but these gradually disappeared after a real estate company acquired the site. The house was restored in 1959 and its façade was renovated in 1990. The building, which now houses offices, is considered to be an excellent example of a Renaissance Danish bourgeois half-timbered house. I found some more old houses in nearby Holy Cross Street.

Borchs Farm in Kolding
Borchs Farm in Kolding

Holy Cross Street in Kolding

Holy Cross Street (Helligkorsgade), in the main pedestrian area of Kolding, has some stunning examples of old timber-framed houses including the oldest building in the town at number 18. This house was built in 1589 and number 16 was built in 1632. A cannon ball sits in the façade of number 5, a remnant from a bombardment of Kolding in 1849. This was the last site I visited in the town but there was one more place I wanted to visit. Walking back around the Castle Lake I came to the Castle Swimming Hall (Slotssøbadet) behind which is Queen Dorothea’s Spa.

Holy Cross Street in Kolding
Holy Cross Street in Kolding

Queen Dorothea’s Spa in Kolding

Queen Dorothea’s Spa (Dronning Dorothea’s Badstue) is a spa with a difference and well worth a visit. Its creators took inspiration from the castle nearby and named it after Queen Dorothea who lived in the castle during the fourteenth century. The aim to make guests feel they are travelling back in time has been achieved with full sets of armour and tiles from the same era. The facilities include a sauna, a steam bath, a salt water pool, a hammam room and a jacuzzi outside on the terrace. The spa also offers a variety of massages and treatments. I tried several of these facilities finishing with a long relax in the outdoor jacuzzi. What a lovely way to end my day in Kolding.

Medieval Vibes in Queen Dorothea’s Spa in Kolding
Medieval Vibes in Queen Dorothea’s Spa in Kolding


For more information about Kolding click here

Getting There

British Airways (Heathrow) and Ryanair (Stanstead) have regular flights to Billund. A good public bus service operates from Billund to Kolding.

Valery Collins is the Experienced Traveller
. An excellent raconteur, Valery has been writing about her experiences on the road since she started travelling 28 years ago. After publishing four books she turned to online travel writing.