from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sylt from the southwest
Sylt from the southwest
Waters North Sea
Archipelago North Frisian Islands
Geographical location 54 ° 55 '  N , 8 ° 20'  E Coordinates: 54 ° 55 '  N , 8 ° 20'  E
Sylt (Schleswig-Holstein)
length 38 km
width 12.6 km
surface 99.14 km²
Highest elevation Uwe dune
52.5  m above sea level NN
Residents 17,713 (2014)
179 inhabitants / km²
main place Westerland , municipality of Sylt
Map of the island
Map of the island
German Aerospace Center : Satellite photo of the islands of Amrum , Föhr and Sylt (October 2007)

Sylt ( Danish Sild , Frisian Söl ) is the largest North Frisian island . It extends from north to south off the North Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark . The northernmost German island is best known for its health resorts Westerland , Kampen and Wenningstedt , for widespread nude bathing and for the approximately 40-kilometer-long west beach.



View of the Rote Kliff near Kampen

At 99.14 km², Sylt is the fourth largest island in Germany after Rügen , Usedom and Fehmarn and the largest German North Sea island . Sylt lies between 9 and 16 kilometers off the coast of the mainland, with which it has been connected via the 11-kilometer-long Hindenburg dam since 1927 . To the southeast of Sylt are the islands of Amrum and Föhr , and to the north is the Danish island of Rømø . The island of Uthörn is located near the northern tip of Sylt .

Sylt stretches over 38.0 kilometers in north-south direction and is only about 320 meters wide in the north, at Königshafen near List on Sylt . At its widest point, from Westerland in the west to the Nössespitze near Morsum in the east, it measures 12.6 kilometers. The southern part of the island is also narrow. On the west and north-west side of Sylt there is an almost 40 kilometer long sandy beach , on the east side lies the Wadden Sea , which is part of the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park and which is largely dry when the water is low .

Typical coastal landscape on Sylt

The shape of the island is constantly changing. Because of its exposed location in the North Sea, land is continuously lost during storm surges . The northern and southern spit hooks of the island consist exclusively of less fertile sand deposits , while the central part of the island in the area of ​​the former municipalities of Westerland, Wenningstedt and Sylt-Ost rests on a geest core , which is visible from the sea in the form of the red cliff . The part of the Geest core facing the Wadden Sea changes into relatively fertile marshland in the area of ​​the former municipality of Sylt-Ost . According to sources that are regarded as secure today, Sylt has been an island since the Second Marcellus Flood of 1362. Its highest point is the Uwe dune in Kampen at 52.5  m above sea level. NHN .

Climatic conditions

Climate diagram of List on Sylt

Sylt has a maritime climate influenced by the Gulf Stream . The winter months are slightly milder with an average of around 2 ° C than on the neighboring mainland, while the summer months are a little cooler with an average of 17 ° C, despite the longer hours of sunshine. On an annual average, Sylt has 4.6 hours of sunshine a day.

The annual mean temperature is 8.7 ° C. The wind blows an annual average of 6.7 m / s, mainly from the west. The annual amount of precipitation is around 734 mm and 747 mm. Current climate and weather data have been supplied since 1937 by the meanwhile automated northernmost weather station of the German Weather Service on a dune near List and some stations of commercial weather observers such as Meteomedia , also in List.

Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for List on Sylt
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 2.6 2.6 4.8 8.9 14.1 17.2 18.5 19.1 16.3 12.4 7.9 4.5 O 10.8
Min. Temperature (° C) −0.9 −1.0 0.8 3.5 8.0 11.5 13.4 13.9 11.7 8.5 4.2 0.9 O 6.2
Precipitation ( mm ) 57 35 45 40 42 56 62 72 83 89 94 72 Σ 747
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 1.5 2.4 3.9 5.8 7.8 8.0 7.4 7.4 4.8 3.2 1.8 1.4 O 4.6
Rainy days ( d ) 12 8th 10 9 8th 9 11 11 13 13 16 13 Σ 133
Water temperature (° C) 4th 3 4th 6th 10 13 16 17th 15th 13 9 6th O 9.7
Humidity ( % ) 90 88 86 81 77 76 78 77 79 84 86 88 O 82.5
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Formation and threat from the sea


The island of Sylt in its current form has only existed for about four hundred years. Like the mainland geest, it emerged from old moraines and therefore has a marl core that is visible today in the middle and west of the island with cliffs, dunes and sandy beaches. This geest core eroded after the rise in sea level 8000 years ago exposed it to the strong currents along the steep island shelf. The sediments accumulated to the south and north. The western edge, which was originally ten kilometers from today's coast, shifted steadily to the east, while at the same time the island in the north and south became longer. After the last Ice Age, marshland formed around this geest core .

Although Sylt is already referred to as an island in 1141, it was part of a landscape criss-crossed by tidal creeks before the first large mandrank in 1362 and was accessible from the mainland at least when the water was low. Probably only after this high tide did the current characteristic shape develop through the formation of spit hooks from the material that had drifted away from the ocean currents. The northern and southern ends of the island in particular were and are subject to great changes. Listland was separated from the rest of the island for some time in the 14th century, and the royal port near List silted up in the second half of the 17th century due to the creation of the Elbow .

Sylt on a map by Johannes Mejer from 1648. The Königshafen near List and the parishes of that time that have now disappeared , including the old church of Eidum , are clearly visible .

In addition to the gradual loss of land, the inhabitants were burdened by the flight of sand during the so-called Little Ice Age . The dunes moving eastward threatened land and settlements, which is why they were fortified by planting beach grass from the 18th century onwards. However, this had the consequence that breaking off material increasingly drifted away and the island substance continued to decline.

From 1870 there are records of the annual coastal decline. According to this, Sylt lost an average of 0.4 meters in the northern and 0.7 meters in the southern coastline between 1870 and 1951. 1951 to 1984 the rate increased to 0.9 and 1.4 meters, respectively, while the coastline at the ends of the island at Hörnum and List is subject to even greater changes.

Due to severe storm surges in the last few decades, Sylt is always in danger of breaking up. The storm surge in 1962 temporarily separated Hörnum from the rest of the island. A narrow section only around 500 meters wide south of Rantum is particularly at risk .

Coastal defense

Tetrapods on the beach of Hörnum
A reinforced concrete groyne near Westerland

As coastal protection measures against constant erosion , groynes made of wooden piles were built as early as the 19th century . These systems, built into the sea at right angles to the coast, were later replaced by metal and finally reinforced concrete groynes. But these structures did not achieve the desired success in the long term. They cannot stop the erosion caused by cross currents, as the “ leeward erosion” occurring on the side of a groyne away from the wind and the current prevents sustained sand deposits.

In the 1960s, so-called tetrapods ("quadrupeds") were used and were laid along the foot of the dunes or - similar to the groynes - out into the sea. But the four-legged concrete elements weighing around 6 tons were too heavy for the conditions on Sylt Beach and could not stop the erosion. In front of Hörnum's west beach, some of them were therefore removed again from mid-2005.

Since the early 1970s, the only effective remedy against erosion to date has been to wash sand off the coast of the island. Dredging vessels , so-called “ hopper dredgers ”, take sand into their hold from a specially allocated area that is far off the coast. They then drive near the coast and flush a mixture of water and sand onto the beach through pipes. The sand is distributed by bulldozers . The only aim is to replace the pre-washed sand deposit removed by storm surges - the actual natural coastline is thus protected and erosion slowed down. This procedure is associated with considerable costs. The demand of up to 10 million euros per year is currently covered by federal, state and EU funds. Since 1972, around 35.5 million cubic meters of sand have been washed up and filled up. Together, these measures have cost more than 143 million euros to date, but researchers have calculated that they should be sufficient to prevent major land losses for at least three decades. With regard to the island's economic situation, the mostly privately drawn benefits could therefore outweigh the costs. In the study of climate impacts for people and the coast using the example of the North Sea island of Sylt from 1995, it says: "If Sylt did not have the image of an attractive holiday island, the existing coastal protection would certainly not exist."

Principle of sand pick-up and transfer of the hopper excavator
Sand flushing, distribution by a bulldozer, at sea the hopper excavator

As an alternative, reinforcement of a natural reef off the coast is being discussed. A similar attempt was made in 1996 and 2003. The "sand drainage", which has been successful on the Danish islands, is not promising because of the steepness of the submarine slope off Sylt.

Sand pre-wash with tetrapods on the west beach

At the same time as the sand washes, the groynes, which had proven largely useless for coastal protection, were dismantled again on some sections of the beach at great expense. The most famous groyne on the island, BUHNE 16 , which gave its name to the nude beach of the same name, also fell victim to this measure .

Despite all these measures, some experts fear that Sylt will have to accept considerable land losses by the middle of the 21st century. The advancing global warming will lead to increased storm activity, which could lead to increased land losses and, as the first consequence, the loss of the insurability of property, for example . Measurements have shown that the wave energy is no longer exhausted on the foreshore as it used to be, but that its destructive effect also extends to the beach. This leads to a sediment loss of around 1.1 million m³ annually.

The island's dune areas are protected and may only be entered on marked paths. So-called “wild” paths encourage erosion and are not allowed to be used. Wherever the vegetation is trampled and no roots hold the sand, it is carried away by wind and water.

The erection of parapets on the banks of the mudflats is intended to promote sedimentation and reclaim land . The grazing of the dykes and the heathland by sheep ultimately serves to protect the coast , as the animals keep the vegetation short and compact the sward with their claws . In this way, they promote the development of a more compact dike surface, which offers the waves less attack surface in the event of a storm surge.

Flora and fauna

potato rose known as Syltrose

The flora of the island of Sylt is shaped by the country's original barreness. Until the middle of the 19th century, Sylt was an almost treeless island. Only through targeted reforestation and planting did smaller forest and bush areas emerge. Even today, for example, in the “Friedrichshain” and “Südwäldchen” forest areas in Westerland, the planned arrangement of vegetation can be seen: the trees are largely lined up. The widespread potato rose ( Rosa rugosa ), also known on the island as the syltrose , only came to the island as an ornamental plant through human hands. She originally came from Kamchatka . The frugal rose found ideal living conditions on the island and spread quickly, so that it is now a typical image of the island. Its distribution is viewed with concern from a biological point of view, as it threatens to displace more and more rare and indigenous plants worthy of protection, especially on the heathland.

The large heather areas on the wadden side of the island are the habitat of many rare animals. The heather ecosystem offers space for a large number of living beings, which are adapted to the extreme conditions (drought, warmth, wind): around 2500 animal species and 150 plant species have been identified so far. 45% of these plant species are on the red list. The number of over 600 different butterfly species that live in the heather is remarkable , including the small fox , lemon and painted lady as well as peacock butterfly .

Heathland at the Elbow in the north

The natterjack toad , which is endangered in Germany, has one of its largest German populations in the dune belt of Sylt with thousands of individuals. Their spawning grounds are wet dune valleys and shallow, short-lived pools. Sand landscapes with little vegetation serve as land habitats. This species is particularly threatened by road traffic on Sylt.

Ornithological peculiarities are the many rare water and coastal birds that have their breeding grounds on the island or that only live or rest on Sylt as migratory birds . Sylt has two important bird breeding areas: in the north the Königshafen with the island of Uthörn in it and in the southeast the Rantum basin . Black-headed gulls , arctic terns , avocets , redshanks , common gulls , oystercatchers , lapwing , shelduck and tufted ducks breed on Sylt . During migration is Sylt resting place for thousands of ringed and fire geese, whistling and eider ducks , as well as bar-tailed godwits , Knots , Alpine beach runner and golden plover . Ringed plovers , snipe and ruff visit the island less frequently .

There are no significant deviations in the occurrence of land mammals today compared to the neighboring mainland areas of northern Germany. After the island was connected to the mainland by the railway embankment , hares , rabbits and roe deer , which are also hunted on the island , should primarily be mentioned here. With the influx of predators such as the red fox and badger , the ground-nesters, which were widespread up to that time, were almost completely displaced.

West of Sylt is a nursery for porpoises . In addition, larger populations of harbor seals and gray seals, which are relatively rare in German waters, live in the sea area off Sylt and the upstream sandbanks . The European oyster , which used to live in large numbers off Sylt , died out around 1950 due to overfishing . In the mid-1980s, the Pacific oyster was cultivated between List and Kampen as a substitute, and it quickly expanded beyond the original cultivated area.

The natterjack toad used to be common in the dune belt with several thousand animals. Also in the dunes lived Moorfrosch . Both species are in decline due to changes in the water balance. Common toad and common frog are common in ponds and coog. The pond newt is already extinct. The forest lizard is still extensively present. The sand lizard is also extinct. Individual records of slow worm , adder and grass snake are likely to be traced back to imports through material deliveries.

natural reserve

Numerous areas on and around Sylt are designated as protected areas. There are ten nature reserves on the island alone , including dunes and heathlands, cliffs and inland waters (see also: List of nature reserves in Schleswig-Holstein ). The NSG Nord-Sylt and Morsum-Kliff have existed since 1923, making them the oldest nature reserves in Schleswig-Holstein. Together, the ten areas have an area of ​​3599 hectares. Other parts of the island are declared as FFH areas , Natura 2000 areas or landscape protection areas. Sylt also borders the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park as well as the NSG Wattenmeer north of the Hindenburg dam and North Frisian Wadden Sea , the two largest nature reserves in Schleswig-Holstein, between Sylt and the mainland .

Numerous clubs and associations with branches on the island strive to research and protect endangered animal and plant species. These include the Alfred Wegener Institute , Söl'ring Foriining, the Jordsand Association , the Wadden Sea Conservation Station and the Sylt Nature Conservation Association . The Federal Environment Agency also operates a measurement and research center in the dunes north of Westerland.

One aim of the Sylt conservationists is to raise awareness of a more sustainable approach and gentle tourism through public relations such as guided tours, leaflets and internet offers as well as political intervention .

Settlement structure

Sylt has 17,713 inhabitants (as of 2014), almost half of them live in Westerland . Second home owners are not included in these figures . The island of Sylt is divided into two administrative areas. The newly founded municipality of Sylt includes the formerly independent places Westerland, Sylt-Ost and Rantum . The Sylt Landscape Office , based in the municipality of Sylt, administers the island locations that do not belong to the municipality of Sylt.

The municipality of Sylt-Ost was formed in 1970 from the municipalities of Keitum (with Munkmarsch ), Tinnum , Morsum and Archsum . In a referendum in May 2008, the merger of the municipality of Sylt-Ost with the city of Westerland was decided on January 1st, 2009. However, various interest groups aim to merge all island communities into one administrative unit.

The places along the west coast

Port and ferry terminal in List

There are six towns along the west coast of Sylt. The municipality of List on Sylt , located in the very north of the island and thus the northernmost municipality in Germany, retained greater independence due to its remote location from the then capital Keitum and its long association with Denmark . On its east side is the protective harbor, from which, in addition to excursion boats, the ferry “Sylt-Express” on the Rømø-Sylt line to Havneby on the Danish neighboring island of Rømø also operates. The lighthouses List West and List Ost are located in the municipality. Wenningstedt , together with Kampen and Braderup , formed the administrative community of the " Norddörfer " - a former inter-municipal association on the island, of which the school association still exists today. While Kampen was particularly popular in Germany in the 1950s and 1960s, Wenningstedt has been known as a “family bathroom” for over 100 years. The striking 38 meter high black and white lighthouse Kampen has stood between Kampen and Wenningstedt, on the Hohe Geest, since 1855 . He is the oldest on the island. The red cliff cross-brand fire, which has been switched off, is also at Kampen. To the east of the Kampen lighthouse is the “Braderuper Heide” nature reserve. The settlement area of ​​the island metropolis Westerland begins immediately south of Wenningstedt.

After the All Saints flood had destroyed the place Eidum on November 1, 1436 , the survivors founded a new place in Westerland northeast . This was first mentioned in a document in 1462. The seaside resort was founded in 1855, and 50 years later Westerland received city ​​rights . In 1949 it was finally recognized as a spa . The city had 9,072 inhabitants at the end of 2007 and is now the administrative seat of the municipality of Sylt . To the south of Westerland, the island still runs as a narrow spit hook about 15 km along a fictitious tide-ebb line in front of the mainland, until it is cut off by the tidal current, the Hörnum-Tief , flowing out of the tidal area east of the southern half of the island . There is the place Rantum . Like hardly any other place on Sylt, this place had to fight against the progressive silting up in the past centuries. Quite a few courtyards and a church had to give way to the then still unpaved, shifting dunes gradually moving eastwards . This danger was only averted with the planting of dune grass ( beach grass ). This spit hook is mainly characterized by the dune wall built up by the west wind. To the east there are isolated narrow strips of marshland. Hörnum (Sylt) near the southern tip is the youngest place on the island: it was not permanently settled until shortly after 1900. But the southern tip of the island is said to have served fishermen and pirates as a temporary shelter in earlier times. The field name Budersand , which is still used today, is said to come from this time . This refers to a mighty dune on the east side of the place, on which "booths" - that is, huts - are said to have stood in earlier times. The Hörnum lighthouse is in Hörnum , so that Sylt has a total of five lighthouses. The southern tip of the island, the so-called "Odde" , is marked by constant sand losses . Year after year, large parts of the dune landscape are eroded by storm surges and tides. Coastal protection structures did not have a lasting effect either, so that it can be expected that the "Odde" will continue to shrink in the future.

The Nösseh peninsula


Until the merger with Westerland in 2009, the east of the island formed the large municipality of Sylt-Ost with around 5500 inhabitants. It was an amalgamation of the previously independent villages of the so-called Nösseh peninsula : Tinnum , Archsum , Morsum with Keitum (including Munkmarsch ) as the administrative center. The pastures of the marshes shape the landscape to this day and have provided the basis for earning a living in these villages for many centuries. The settlement boundaries of Tinnum now merge almost imperceptibly into the settlement area of ​​Westerland and so Tinnum benefits from the close proximity to the island metropolis. The Tinnumburg , located southwest of the village, is a circular wall with a diameter of 120 meters and a height of 8 meters. It was made around the 1st century BC. Erected, presumably as a pagan place of worship or defense system against attacks from humans and the sea.

Sylt Airport (IATA: GWT), a former air force base that is now used exclusively for civilian purposes, is also located in the municipality of Tinnum . According to tradition, the name "Munkmarsch" means "monk march". The meadows were therefore fertile marshland , which from around 1200 belonged to a (monk) monastery - probably one of the four monasteries in Ribe  . Located a few kilometers north of the old main town of Keitum, the old peasantry of Munkmarsch only gained importance when the old Keitum harbor silted up more and more and it was decided in the middle of the 19th century to move the main port of the island to Munkmarsch. Until the construction of the Hindenburg dam, the port of Munkmarsch was the most important port of arrival for the guests who traveled with the Sylter Dampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft by post ship paddle steamer from Hoyer lock (now Danish). From 1888 a narrow-gauge railway continued to Westerland. The port and railway lost their importance in 1927 with the completion of the Hindenburg dam. The railway was dismantled and instead of the ferry port there is now a private marina .

Keitum (Frisian: Kairem ) is one of the oldest places on the island and was its main town for centuries until the end of the 19th century. Only with the onset of tourism in the middle of the 19th century did it gradually lose its central importance. Typical of Keitum are the preserved old captain's houses and the tree-lined streets in the center. A striking building is the old St. Severin Church from the early 13th century, to the northwest of the town center. Other sights are the so-called Old Frisian House and the Sylt Heimatmuseum . Both museums provide insights into the life of the Sylt people before tourism began.

Morsum (Frisian: Muasem ), located in the very east of the island, is located on the 1.8 km long and up to 21 m high cliff Morsum cliff in a heathland. On Morsum Cliff (Colorful cliff) may geological history of the region in the last five million years studied. The neighboring village of Archsum is an old Frisian farming village. With the Archsum Castle, he has one of the oldest evidence of settlement on the island.

Prehistory and History


No relics have been found of the original hunting population. In the Neolithic , the higher ground attracted rural settlers who withdrew from the gradually rising sea level. In the Bronze Age the area was densely populated and the population was relatively wealthy, as can be inferred from the rich grave finds.

The erosion of land at the optimum temperature after the turn of the ages further reduced the settlement area, and parallel to the migration of the fishing rods, there is hardly any evidence of settlement from around 400 AD.

Stone age


A total of 47 megalithic systems in long beds and round hills have been identified on Sylt , but these have largely been exhausted. While the Urdolmen is missing, aisle-free , extended dolmens north of Kampen, west of Archsum (Nössemarsch) and east of Keitum (the Harhoog ) have been preserved. Also polygonal dolmen in round hills and what is rare in Germany, in hunebeds are detected. One is preserved north of the Kampen train station. One bed with three polygonal pillars near the lighthouse and one in the Strumphoog were destroyed. Bronze Age burials and Iron Age urn graves were partially found in the chambers and mounds. Among the local passage tombs of the project Denghoog of Wenningstedt and Merelmerskhoog in Archsum out. The grave in Kolkingehoog was destroyed in the storm surge of 1825. Other facilities on the cliff had a similar fate or were relocated. The Neolithic settlements, especially proven on the Archsumer Geest , were overlaid when the area was marched. The group of small burial mounds, which can be assigned to corded ceramics , represent the last form of the Stone Age monuments. The early Neolithic earth grave of Tinnum, from the group of the Thing mounds, shows for the first time references to the later megalithic graves. Instead of boulders , a rectangular stone frame surrounds a body burial in a wooden coffin.

Bronze and Iron Ages

In the Bronze Age , which began late in the north, the large, richly furnished burial mounds were created , which are usually five meters, u. U. but also seven meters high, seem to rule the island in five large groups. Many of these monuments have been demolished or leveled by building or agriculture in the past centuries; one of the rare long-standing hills from the Bronze Age is located north of Kampen between the round Krockhoogen. There are also traces of settlement in the mudflats east of the island.

The well-preserved Tinnumburg and the castles near Archsum and Rantum, which have almost disappeared, date from the Iron Age . What they were used for when they were built cannot be reconstructed, perhaps they were shrines. When Sylt was resettled in the 8th century, the new settlers used the walled areas to create a village, which was soon abandoned.

The traces of the Viking Age are much less spectacular and consist of sites with remains of settlements and a large number of tell-like residential mounds, the terps .



The name Sild was first mentioned in a document around 1141 in the Odense Monastery donation book; in the earth book of the Danish king Waldemar II from 1231 the name Syld can be found and in the register of the cathedral chapter of Schleswig the names Syld and Sylt are used in the 14th and 15th centuries . In older spellings, a distinction was not always made between i and y . Only at the beginning of the 19th century did the uniform spelling, which is still valid today, become established.

There are various theories about the origin of the name Sylt. The first says that the name is related to the English word sill ("threshold") or the Danish word syld (old Danish: syll "threshold, foundation stone "); so it would have the meaning "land threshold".

Another explanation interprets the name as the ancient Germanic * Selhiþō ("seal place"), from * selha ("seal"; Danish sæl , English seal ) and the suffix -iþō . The Norwegian island name Sild (in the Hardangerfjord ) is of the same origin , Sjælland is related .

According to a third explanation, the name is derived from the old Danish word sylt (" salt meadow " or " brackish water "). This root word is found in the Scandinavian language area in many place names again, as in: Sylten in Northeast Jutland , Syltemade on Funen and Syltholm on Lolland and Hellesylt in Norway .

A fourth approach is based on the origin of the name in the Danish / Scandinavian word Sild for herring , as the Sylt seafarers used to be very active in herring fishing. The great importance of the herring for the island at the time is also shown in the fact that it was proven as a heraldic animal on Sylt as early as 1668. However, it also happened the other way round that such coat of arms motifs arose from a folk etymological interpretation of the landscape names.

Until the 19th century

Around the year 460 AD the area west of today's island, at that time part of a marshland, had an important port. According to unconfirmed traditions, the Anglic military leaders Horsa and Hengest set out from what was then the western beach of the "island" in the 5th century on their campaign against the Romano-British and Celts . In the following centuries the North Frisian Uthlande were hardly populated.

Coin finds from the Merovingian period suggest that Frisians , fleeing from the expansion of the Frankish Empire, settled in the area of ​​the North Frisian Islands at this time .

Church of St. Severin in Keitum

The oldest church, the Keitumer Church , was supposedly built around 1020 by Canute the Great on the site of an earlier Odin shrine . It belonged to Odense Monastery from 1100 and was consecrated to Saints Knut and Ketel in 1188 . The master builder, who built the churches on Pellworm and Föhr at the same time as today's church, built in 1216 , is said to have got from one building site to another on horseback in one day. According to the Kielholt Chronicle, the King of Denmark also attacked Sylt at sea and on land around this time. In the 12th century there were already four churches on Sylt: in Keitum, Morsum, Eidum and Rantum.

In 1231 "Syld" is mentioned in the Waldemar earth book . The area paid slightly lower taxes than, say, the Wiedingharde or Föhr and thus not even half the tax of the Edomsharde with Rungholt .

In the second Marcellus flood in 1362, Sylt lost large areas of marshland with several parishes in the east and thus became an island. The Listland was also demolished around 1400 and was for a time an island of its own. In the All Saints' Day Flood of 1436 went Eidum , the westernmost Westerland parish under. Rantum sank under the dunes.

On August 15, 1386 Queen Margrete I left Sylt to the Count of Holstein-Rendsburg Gerhard VI. with the Duchy of Schleswig . List, which had been owned by the city of Ripen since 1292 , remained with the Kingdom of Denmark . 1422 were over 100 sailors in Hamburg Sylt captivity, as Hansische warships of the king, a Danish fleet Erik of Pomerania defeated. A little later, Vogt Claus Lembek, to whom Sylt and Osterland-Föhr were subordinate, fell away from the king. In 1426 Sylt, together with the rest of the Uthlands, closed the Siebenhardenbeläge , an expression of their autonomy towards the king. In 1435, in the Peace of Vordingborg , List and the neighboring Listland, where the royal port, the most important port between Elbe and Skagen was, such as Westerland-Föhr, Amrum and the south of Rømø remained royal enclaves . The main part remaining in the office of Tondern retained its relative independence. The land and beach bailiffs who represented the authorities on the island were also all from Sylt. In some cases, the offices were passed on over generations in a family.

No written sources are known between the Kielholt Chronicle from around 1450 and the chronicle of the Morsum sexton Muchel Madis from the second half of the 16th century. Therefore, the introduction of the Reformation on Sylt cannot be dated with certainty.

The Thirty Years' War affected Sylt when 400 imperial soldiers entered the island in 1628 , but soon withdrew. The following year the plague reached Sylt. In 1644 a sea battle between a Danish and a Dutch-Swedish fleet took place at the Königshafen. Around 1700 the port silted up.

Around 1640 it was first reported about a Sylt school in the parish of Keitum. In the 17th and 18th centuries, whaling , seafaring , oyster farming and duck fishing in birdcocks ensured modest prosperity for parts of the population, while those who worked as small farmers and farm laborers on the barren soil often lived in great poverty. The coupling ordinance of 1766, which made it possible to divide up the former commons and which often led to higher yields on the mainland, contributed to the impoverishment of the often small and sterile parcels on Sylt. The island had 2814 inhabitants at a census in 1769.

In 1855, Westerland became Sylt's first seaside resort. After the German-Danish War , Sylt came to Prussia in 1866 and was incorporated into the province of Schleswig-Holstein . At that time the island was visited by artists, first by the Holsteiner Hans-Peter Feddersen and Hinrich Wrage , then by Eugene Dücker and Eugen Bracht . They all stayed regularly on Sylt to paint, Bracht later brought his students with him. Since then tourism has also increased slowly; the spa guests came by post ship from Tondern or with the express steamer from Hamburg via Helgoland . In the 1911 season, the seaside resort of Westerland surpassed the previous fashion baths on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein, Wyk auf Föhr and Büsum, in terms of popularity and the number of overnight stays; the seaside resorts of Helgoland and Norderney counted even more guests.

20th century until the end of the Weimar Republic

House Kliffende in Kampen

During the First World War , German military (5000 soldiers) were quartered on Sylt with the so-called "island guard", but the island never became a theater of war. Barracks, gun emplacements and barracks were either used for civilian use or demolished after the end of the war.

After the war, the people of Sylt voted in a referendum with a majority of 88 percent in favor of continuing to belong to Germany. However, the main connection port at that time, Hoyer, was now in Denmark, so that the journey to the island was a cumbersome trip abroad for German guests. Against this background, the project of a railway embankment from the German mainland through the Wadden Sea was promoted. In 1927, the eleven kilometers long has been, according to Reich President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hindenburgdamm opened that about today Marschbahn leads. The ferry connection to Hoyer could be stopped at the same time.

1933 to 1945

Bomb crater in the north of Sylt

In the 1930s, the island was also considered chic by many prominent supporters of National Socialism such as Hermann Göring . National Socialist ideology quickly gained ground. The baths anti-Semitism now also spread in the previously liberal seaside resort of Westerland. Many hoteliers and innkeepers adapted quickly: They described their house as " Jew-free " and declared Jewish guests to be undesirable. The Nazi organization Kraft durch Freude (KDF) also used Sylt as a vacation spot. So it was that in Westerland swastika flags were soon waving in numerous beach castles and front gardens . In contrast, intellectual Kampen continued to attract artists and writers who were critical of National Socialism. One of the meeting points was the Kliffende house in the Kampener Heide. Clara Tiedemann, the landlady at the time, was also not impressed by the SA march - she steadfastly refused to fly the swastika flag.

In 1938, together with the construction of Nössedeichs the embankment of Rantumbeckens by the Reich Labor Service . They wanted to build a sea airfield independent of the tide, which however was no longer classified as "war important" when it was completed. The Rantum basin serves today as a nature reserve and may not be entered.

A bunker in the south of Westerland

In the Second World War , Sylt was declared a restricted area and tourism came to a complete standstill. A possible Allied invasion across the North Sea was expected. Therefore, massive bunkers and sea target batteries with heavy artillery were built in the dunes, which should be occupied by up to 10,000 soldiers. From 1940 the 14th Marine Flak Regiment was stationed on Sylt. However, Sylt was largely spared from acts of war. Targeted bombing raids were carried out on September 7, 1939, September 8, 1939, December 3, 1939, March 19, 1940 and December 17, 1940 by British units. However, only minor damage was caused to civil buildings.

A few days after the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht , the British occupied the island without a fight, coming across the Hindenburgdamm in tanks and wheeled vehicles.

After 1945

In 1945 displaced people from the former German eastern territories, mainly from East Prussia , were taken into the old Wehrmacht apartments , camps and barracks. This doubled the population to around 25,000. Most of the displaced people found work on Sylt during the rebuilding of tourism and stayed.

A small group of expellees represented the Heligoland expelled from their island. Great Britain declared the island of Heligoland a restricted area in 1945 and used it as a bomb dropping area, so that the island remained uninhabitable until 1952. Some of the Heligoland settled in Hörnum, from where they could continue to approach their native waters with their fishing trawlers and boats, thus maintaining contact with Heligoland and the North Sea. They could return immediately after the release of "their" island. Hardly any exiled Heligoland missed this opportunity, so that today only a few former Heligoland members are still part of the Sylt population.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the number of overnight stays rose sharply again with the growing desire to travel among the Germans. The island visibly changed its face through numerous construction measures. From the mid-1960s, the “Neue Kurzentrum”, which characterizes the silhouette of Westerland, was built with its three up to 14-story apartment blocks right by the sea. Numerous other multi-storey apartment buildings followed. Due to the significant increase in individual traffic, traffic calming measures became necessary, and pedestrian zones and areas with night driving were created in Westerland.

The Bundeswehr continued to use the barracks, the air base and the Wehrmacht's houses for their facilities. The Naval Supply School (MVS) was located in List , a Navy air base in Tinnum, and a company from the Air Force Training Regiment , a Naval Aviation Training Group and a reserve hospital group were stationed on the island. In 2007 the last military facility was closed. In connection with the sale of the federally owned real estate, there was considerable dissent with the communities concerned and upheavals on the market. Plans to found an educational institution with an attached boarding school on the site of the former MVS have not yet been implemented.

Efforts are currently being made in various political bodies to combine the island into a regional authority for administrative purposes. On January 1, 2009, the two largest communities, Sylt-Ost and Westerland, merged with Rantum to form the “ community of Sylt ”. Whether and when the remaining island communities join this merger is controversial in the respective political bodies.


The pedestrian zone in Westerland; View from the spa center to the east

In parallel with the sharp rise in tourist numbers since the 1950s, other branches of the economy fell significantly. The island's economy is almost entirely directly or indirectly dependent on tourism. Thus, retail, gastronomy, services and handicrafts are tailored to the needs of guests and landlords. Agriculture and shipping have played an increasingly minor role in the island's social structure since the mid-1970s ; In Sylt-Ost alone there are still working farms, livestock and timber industries. The only remaining industrial company , the Beyschlag Werke, left the island in 1974 due to rising property prices and the poor transport connections. Since Sylt, in contrast to the structurally weak mainland of North Friesland, has an oversupply of jobs, the majority of employees, around 4,500 people, commute daily from the mainland to the island by train and ferry; thus the economic power of the island also affects the adjacent mainland.


The great economic power not only attracts workers, it is also a reason for families on Sylt to move away if they can no longer bear the high rents and high cost of living. As a result, the local community is also losing, as most second home owners only live on Sylt for a time.

The number of residents with their main place of residence on Sylt was 17,713 at the end of 2014, after being just under 20,000 in 2003. In 2014, only 14 percent of residents with their main residence were under 20 years of age. In 2014, the hospital's maternity ward was closed.


History of tourism

Bather, historical postcard
The representative former Kurhaus of Westerland, today the town hall

Tourism has been of considerable importance on Sylt for over 100 years since Westerland became a seaside resort in 1855 . Cures on Sylt quickly developed into the fashion of the upper and middle classes and led to the economic reorientation of the people of Sylt. In the first decades, the guests usually stayed for several weeks because of the healing effects of the stimulating climate and during this time they expected an appropriate entertainment program, which in turn attracted a corresponding audience. Away from the main towns , after the end of the First World War, country school homes for children from the big cities were set up in former barracks .

During the Second World War, the island was declared a restricted area and tourism came to a complete standstill. The immediate post-war years were marked by hunger and unemployment. Empty hotels were often occupied by war refugees , and the health resort was completely closed. Only after the currency reform could the first post-war spa guests be recorded in the 1949 summer season. Since then, the number of overnight stays has risen steadily. Around 1960 tourism experienced an upswing. In addition to the previously wealthy spa guests, Sylt now also attracted larger crowds. The appearance of the city of Westerland underwent a profound redesign. Until now, in addition to traditional Frisian houses and Wilhelmine bath villas, only a few larger hotels have shaped the cityscape, but now the “new spa center” has created apartment complexes with up to 14 floors. Gradually, these modern facilities displaced the villas and lodging houses. These apartment complexes from the 1960s and 1970s characterize the inner city area of ​​Westerland today, while the other island towns were largely spared from this intensive development.

Tourism today

Today the island has over 60,000 guest beds and 870,000 guests a year with 6.51 million overnight stays, i.e. an average of 7.50 overnight stays per guest (as of 2014). In summer there are around 150,000 people on the island every day. In the low season from January to March and October to December, almost 29 percent of the overnight stays were registered. The number of spa guests who actually use spa treatments has fallen to less than a tenth.

What is remarkable on Sylt is the high density of restaurants with an upscale gastronomic offer and cuisine that has been distinguished by the specialist press and restaurant guides. Four restaurants have Michelin stars and numerous restaurants are listed in the Gault-Millau .

Disadvantages of tourism on Sylt are the increasing sealing of land due to new buildings, a high volume of traffic due to the large number of cars brought to the island and disruptions in the nature and bird protection areas. At the same time, however, the income from tourism helps to finance nature conservation measures.

Recreational facilities

Beach chairs on the main Westerland beach

The leisure offer is largely determined by nature. The 40 km long sandy beach in the west of the island with over 12,000 beach chairs is in large areas only accessible against spa tax . On the more protected east side of the island, on the Wadden Sea, there are also several swimming spots, for example in List, Braderup, Munkmarsch, Morsum, Rantum and Hörnum. Guided mudflat walks are organized by the municipalities, private mudflat guides or nature conservation associations such as the “ Naturschutzgemeinschaft Sylt e. V. ”and the Wadden Sea Protection Station during the season. In Westerland there is a sea water wave pool , the "Sylter Welle" , directly on the beach promenade . In 2004 the Sylt Aquarium opened and in 2009 the “Adventure Center for the Force of Nature” in List. Together with the Tinnum Zoo , you can find out about the local flora and fauna here. The island has four golf courses , the youngest of which has been playable in Hörnum since 2008. In addition, numerous fun sports providers offer seasonal activities, for example skydiving , Segway tours or guided hikes.

Naturism and nude bathing

At the beginning of the 20th century, the bathing beaches were separated according to sex into "ladies bath" and "men bath"; one bathed in long bathing dresses. From the beginning of the 20th century - starting from the free German youth camp Klappholttal and the intellectuals and artists in the village of Kampen - a movement developed that lived a beach life without clothing. The first nudist beach was opened on Sylt in 1920. Nude bathing and sunbathing (also erroneously referred to as "nudism") spread over the entire island. With "Sylt" one skinny-dipping and the ideal environment for supporters of the association nudism (FKK). Since the 1960s there have been designated nudist beaches with names such as "Abyssinia", "Samoa" or "Zanzibar" on the entire west beach. The most famous nudist beach on Sylt became the “Buhne 16” in Kampen through regular reports in the tabloid media. Today the boundaries between nude and textile beaches are becoming more and more blurred. While nude beaches have lost some of their popularity, it is no longer unusual or sensational to bathe or sunbathe on "normal" beaches with no clothes on.


The "windsurfing legend" Robby Naish off Sylt

The “Meerkabarett”, located in “kunst: raum sylt quelle” in Rantum since 2007, has been presenting comedians , cabaret artists and musicians in July and August since 1994 .

Up to 1500 runners take part in the “Syltlauf” over 33.333 kilometers every year. In addition, numerous regattas and water sports competitions take place - mainly in front of the Westerland West Beach. These include the Windsurf World Cup , the Kitesurf Trophy and the German Windsurf Cup , and the Cat Festival Sylt , an event that includes several catamaran regattas.

Media landscape

In addition to its own daily newspaper, the Sylter Rundschau , which is published by SHZ-Verlag , there are weekly papers on Sylt that are financed by advertising and distributed free of charge. For the distribution of terrestrially receivable radio and television programs, two transmission systems are available on the island, the Morsum transmitter and the Westerland transmitter . The private radio station “Antenne Sylt” has been broadcasting on the cable network on the island and the adjacent mainland on VHF 89.8 MHz since 2011. From 2016 to 2019, the station " Syltfunk " also broadcast on VHF 88.1 MHz.

Medical supplies

In addition to numerous resident doctors, the Asklepios Nordseeklinik Westerland in particular ensures basic medical care. From 1937 on there was a "health hospital for air forces" on a large area on the northern border of Westerland. After the war, the Schleswig-Holstein State Supply Office took over this hospital for spa treatments for disabled people. From 1951 onwards, the Hamburg Workers' Welfare Association (AWO) carried out "spa measures" here. In the mid-1950s, the Westerland Municipal Hospital, which was located on “Rote-Kreuz-Straße”, closed. The AWO Hamburg integrated the acute care in the renamed "North Sea Clinic". In 1953, the public hospital operations began there since 1974, the North Sea Clinic is in the hospital requirement plan received from Schleswig-Holstein; In 2017, the number of beds was reduced by the authorities from 112 to 95. In 1992 the Asklepios Clinics Group took over the hospital. The North Sea Clinic is divided into an acute hospital and a rehabilitation clinic.

Because of its low-allergen stimulating climate, the island of Sylt is the location for several rehabilitation facilities , especially for diseases of the respiratory organs and the skin.

For the respiratory tract and the lungs, the iodine-containing sea air from maritime aerosols and the associated stimulating climate of sun, wind and salt should be mentioned in particular. Due to the predominant westerly wind and the small number of trees, the air is poor in pollen.

The largest facility with around 300 beds is the North Sea Clinic, which covers the areas of “Dermatological Rehabilitation”, “Pneumological Rehabilitation”, “Oncological Rehabilitation” and “Orthopedic Rehabilitation”. There are also two large rehabilitation clinics for children in the form of the Specialist Clinic Sylt (sponsored by the German Pension Insurance ) and the Sylt Clinic (sponsored by the German Children's Cancer Foundation ).

There are also two facilities for mother / father-child cures in the Insel-Klinik Sylt and the Louise Schroeder House.

Wind turbines

In contrast to mainland Schleswig-Holstein, there are no wind turbines on the island . The Butendiek offshore wind farm was built with 80 turbines about 35 km off the coast in the North Sea, west of Sylt.

Car train on the Hindenburgdamm towards the mainland
An Intercity with two class 218 diesel locomotives reaches Sylt.
Ferry on the Rømø-Sylt Line

Transatlantic submarine cables

Two transatlantic submarine cables end on the west coast of Sylt , on the one hand the 14,000 kilometer long data cable AC-1 (Atlantic Crossing) coming from Brookhaven in the USA at Rantum , on the other hand the 8,000 kilometer long submarine cable Cantat-3 coming from Canada at the elbow near List .


Paths to Sylt

The island can only be reached by motor vehicle from the German mainland with the Sylt shuttle operated by DB Fernverkehr or the Sylt car train operated by RDC Germany . The vehicles are loaded in Niebüll and taken on the march train over the Hindenburgdamm to Westerland. In addition to the car trains, local trains of the DB Regio Schleswig-Holstein and long-distance trains ( IC ) of the DB run on the Hindenburgdamm . The stations on the island are (from east to west): Morsum , Keitum and Westerland railway terminal , it is a transportation hub with the central bus station in the center of the island's main town.

There is a connection between the Danish neighboring island of Rømø and the port in List with the vehicle and passenger ferry of the Rømø-Sylt line . This runs up to eight times a day and is the second most important connection for motor vehicles after the Sylt shuttle. There are also seasonal passenger ship connections with the Adler Express , which reaches Hörnum twice a day from Nordstrand .

Sylt can be reached via the Sylt Airport by scheduled and charter connections, which have gained considerably in importance since the late 1990s. In the summer season there are direct flight connections to and from major German cities and metropolitan areas several times a day. In 2008, 153,000 passengers were counted here.

Traffic on Sylt

Westerland train station on Sylt

On Sylt, as on the neighboring North Frisian islands, private motorized traffic is permitted. The island has a well-developed road network and large parking lots close to the beach, some of which are chargeable.

On the island, public transport is ensured by the regular and charter buses of the Sylter Verkehrsgesellschaft (SVG). The SVG's around 30 buses travel to all island locations on five lines with comparatively short cycle times. So-called city ​​buses also operate within Westerland . The central bus station , which is served by all lines on the island, is the ZOB at the Westerland station .

As a cyclist, you can fall back on a scenic and well-developed network of cycle paths with a total length of around 200 kilometers, which opens up all the island communities. There is hardly a place that cannot be easily reached by bike. The route of the former Sylt island railway , which crosses Sylt from north to south except in Westerland, serves as an almost continuous cycle path . In Westerland there is a low-car bicycle connection along the dunes to the west. Overall assessments of the cycling conditions on Sylt as part of the ADFC's bicycle climate test resulted in a grade of 4.1 in 2016 and a grade of 4.2 in 2018, suggesting corresponding potential for improvement.

Sylt has a total of four ports, of which the northernmost in List and the southernmost in Hörnum are public. Both ports are berths for sea rescue ships of the German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked People (DGzRS). From these ports, seaside resorts and excursion steamers sail into the Wadden Sea and to the seal banks. From Hörnum, the seaside resorts also operate to the neighboring islands of Amrum , Föhr and the Halligen as well as to Helgoland . In addition, the Rømø-Sylt route runs from the Lister ferry terminal . In addition, a tourist infrastructure with restaurants, fish stalls and souvenir shops has developed there. These harbors also offer berths for pleasure craft as ports of refuge ; but also vehicles used by crabs or mussel fishermen moor here. Two other ports, the former Munkmarsch ferry port and the Rantum port , which was built in the 1930s at what was then the Seefliegerhorst , are privately owned by yacht clubs and are not open to the public.

The Sylt island railway

Sylt Island Railway (1894)

From 1888 to 1970, the island of Sylt possessed over narrow gauge railways with 1000 mm gauge , which initially were built by several companies and operated. The first route of the Sylt Inselbahn ran in the summer months from 1888 on the approximately 4.2 km long route from the port of Munkmarsch to the island metropolis of Westerland, further routes from Westerland to Hörnum in the south of the island and from Westerland to List in the north followed from 1903 or 1907.

During the two World Wars, the military added a few kilometers to this route network in order to connect their often remote camps and gun emplacements. Large parts of the elbow at List were provided with a rail network. In the 1940s, Sylt had the island railway with the longest route network in Germany. However, these routes were completely dismantled immediately after the Second World War .

In the 1950s, the island railway experienced a renewed upswing due to tourism, which, however, could not stop the triumph of private transport on Sylt. The north and south runways were shut down on December 29, 1970; the old Ostbahn from 1888 had already been abandoned in the summer of 1927. From now on , the Sylter Verkehrsgesellschaft (SVG) relocated passenger traffic exclusively to regular buses .


Little is known about the religion and customs of the Sylt Frisians before Christianization . The Kielholtz Chronicle , written in the 15th century, reports pagan practices that the chronicler claims to have experienced himself. The Christianization of the Frisians also reached Sylt in the 11th century. The early Christian houses of worship from this time have not been preserved. The mighty St. Severin Church in Keitum was built around 1240, and the tower was built around 1450 from bricks and field stones. At that time, the Frisians were also very independent ecclesiastically, paid no tithing for a long time , appointed their own preachers and rejected the celibacy of priests .

Altarpiece in St. Niels Church

The foothills of the Reformation reached the island in the 1520s , and Sylt became Evangelical-Lutheran. Only with the onset of tourism in the middle of the 19th century, some Catholics gradually came to the island, partly as guests, partly as new residents. At the end of the 19th century these changes were taken into account and in 1903 a small Catholic chapel was built on Neue Straße in Westerland. In 1957 it had long since become too small and with the Christophorus Church a new church was consecrated, which was again replaced by a new building at the old location in 1998.

Today on Sylt there are the Protestant parishes of List, Norddörfer (Norddörferkapelle in Wenningstedt), Westerland ( St. Nicolai church and St. Niels village church), Keitum (St. Severin) , Morsum (St. Martin) and Rantum-Hörnum (St. Thomas) . The Evangelical Lutheran Danish Church in southern Schleswig is represented by a parish in Westerland ( Den danske Menighed på Sild ), the ecclesiastical center of the Danish parish is the Staldkirken in Westerland.

In addition to the St. Christophorus Church in Westerland, the Catholic Church maintains a branch church in List (St. Raphael). The former Catholic St. Joseph Church in Hörnum was profaned in 2008.

In addition to various free church congregations, religious communities such as the New Apostolic Church , the Baptist congregation , Jehovah's Witnesses and Orthodox Christians maintain their congregation, prayer and meeting rooms in Westerland .

In 1904 the Berlin doctor Paul Dahlke built a Buddhist Theravada temple in Wenningstedt. In the spring of 1920 he also built a stupa in the Braderuper Heide , which was leveled in 1939 as part of the airport expansion. After the construction of the Hindenburgdamm, he relocated his activities to Berlin because he saw his goal of a secluded Buddhist cultural center on Sylt as no longer feasible.

On Sylt there has been a center of Tibetan Buddhism in Westerland since 1992.

The growing Muslim community on Sylt currently has no community center or prayer room (as of 2015).

Culture and customs


Bilingual station sign (German / Frisian) in Westerland

Frisian is one of the native languages ​​of the island of Sylt . The Sylt dialect is called Sölring . With the dialects of Föhr , Amrum and Helgoland , it forms the island North Frisian dialect group , which is clearly separated from mainland North Frisian. Sölring differs from the other island mouth types in that it has a larger number of Danish loan words. The usual North Frisian spelling rules are not used for the Sylt dialect. Only a few hundred people still speak Sölring today. As a result of mass tourism and the immigration of workers from the mainland as well as the emigration of Sylt families from the island, the Frisian language on Sylt has been pushed out of everyday life particularly strongly.

The Frisian language is strengthened by the so-called “ Frisian Law ” from 2004, after which the old language will be promoted again. For example, place-name signs and lettering on public buildings can be designed in two languages ​​(Frisian and German). Examples are: The place-name signs “Kampen-Kaamp” or “Keitum-Kairem” or the “Kaamp-Hüs” - the spa administration. Frisian lessons in schools and in adult education are also promoted.

On the other hand, the north of Sylt, the so-called Listland , which belonged to the Danish Krone for many centuries, is traditionally Danish-speaking. Even if the German language dominates in everyday life today, there is still a Danish minority on the island who keep their language and tradition alive in clubs and schools. In addition to the Danish church, the Vesterland Danske Kirke in Westerland, there is a Danish island school with departments in Westerland and Keitum, a Danish day-care center and a leisure home in Westerland and the Danish cultural center List Kulturhus . Westerland and Keitum are served by book buses from the Dansk Centralbibliotek in Flensburg.

In the more rural Sylt-Ost , the Low German language is still widespread in some families .


Primary school schools are located in Westerland, Sylt-Ost and Wenningstedt. Until the 1950s, there was a dwarf school in Hörnum , which had its classroom in the Hörnum lighthouse . In 2007, the former Boy Lornsen School in Keitum was closed and, due to falling student numbers, merged with the school in Tinnum . The two departments of the island school ( Vesterland-Kejtum Danske Skole ) operated by the Danish School Association for South Schleswig are located in Westerland and Keitum , and there is also a Danish day-care center in Westerland.

The only secondary school, the grammar school with a community school part of the Sylt school association, is located in Westerland. The Niebüll vocational school is on the mainland.

In the north of the island between Kampen and List is the Klappholttal adult education center , one of the oldest adult education centers in Schleswig-Holstein, in a dune area directly behind the beach . In List, there were concrete plans to build a university campus on the former barracks of the naval supply school in addition to a boarding school for secondary levels I and II. However, a financing gap of 3.2 million euros became known in 2012, making it unlikely that the North Sea College Sylt will go into operation .

Frisian houses

The room layout of the Uthland Frisian House in comparison
Friesenhaus from 1784 in Keitum, surrounded by the Friesenwall

The island was originally sparsely populated due to the barren land and the inhospitable climate. Around 1800 there were just eight stave spaces in Wenningstedt and only two courtyards in List. Hörnum was completely uninhabited until around 1900 and the place Rantum had to surrender completely to the heavy sand drift that buried farms, pastures and fields under itself. For a long time the predominant design was the thatched , low Uthland Frisian houses , a special form of the Geestharden houses . In contrast to the houses on the mainland, they usually have a pointed gable above the entrance door that extends to just below the ridge.

Almost all of the houses face east-west in order to offer the prevailing westerly wind as little exposure as possible. The stables were located in the western part of the houses, facing the weather, so that the living area was on the more protected eastern side. The top floors of the old houses were not used for living, but served as a hay store and supply store, which was accessible via a hay hatch in the above-mentioned Friesengiebel.

Friesian houses that have survived to this day are almost without exception a listed building , but almost all houses with more or less major structural changes were converted into pure residential or apartment houses. In particular, the subsequent installation of dormer windows as well as the conversion of the former stable part for residential purposes greatly changed the external appearance of the house. Only the so-called “ Old Frisian House ” in Keitum from 1737, which has been operated as a museum by Söl'ring Foriining since 1907, still shows the original use and construction of these buildings. In addition to the actual building fabric, many typical furnishings and furniture have also been preserved, such as the alcove set into the wall with the bed box that is only 1.75 m long, the smoke kitchen with an open stove and fireplace for the oven in the Kööv ( = Döns ). Another house, left in its original state, is located in the Molfsee open-air museum .


On the night of February 21, the eve of St. Peter's Day, large fires are lit in many island locations. As a pagan custom, the history of biike burning goes back well into pre-Christian times. Later the fires were used to say goodbye to the Greenlanders. These were the people from Sylt who went to the North Sea in spring as captains or crews for whalers . The Sylt chronicler CP Hansen revived this custom towards the end of the 19th century. Since then, the biiken have been piled up and set on fire in the traditional places every year. Petri Day is a public holiday on the entire island - all schools and many offices and shops are closed.


On the almost treeless island at Christmas time, instead of a Christmas tree, the Jöölboom was traditionally set up, a smaller wooden frame to which a wreath of evergreen branches was tied. It rests on a pedestal with the image of Adam and Eve under an (apple) tree with the snake. A horse, a dog and a rooster are depicted above it. The figures made of salt dough all have a symbolic meaning: Adam and Eve with the snake represent the knowledge of good and bad gained through the Fall . The horse should stand for strength, speed and endurance, the dog for loyalty. The rooster placed at the top is intended to express vigilance , as on the church towers according to the St Peter stories of the New Testament. Depending on taste and tradition, other natural products were added as decorative gifts. After the advent of the advent wreath, it became generally accepted that four candles are attached to this frame, which, similar to those of an advent wreath, are gradually lit before Christmas Eve. Long forgotten on Sylt, the Jööl boom was brought back to life by some Sylt families from the middle of the 20th century and is now enjoying growing popularity beyond the island.

Mask run

The mask running is a Sylt type of " Rummelpottlaufens " widespread in North Friesland . This custom is still practiced in the villages of Sylt-Ost. On New Year's Eve , small groups of adults and children, dressed in masks , move from house to house. The ombudsmen disguised in this way perform crude songs and poems in Frisian or, in some cases, in Low German, often about local events from the past year. These parades don't end until well after midnight. The "rocket shooting" and firecrackers are prohibited on the whole island due to the high risk of fire due to the many thatched houses and the dry heather and dune areas.


The work Sunset on Sylt by the painter Wenzel Hablik
Street sign in Sylt-Westerland in honor of Henriette Hirschfeld-Tiburtius (1834–1911), the first licensed dentist in Germany

The island was shaped by people and shaped equally many people who lived on the island or dealt with it. The freedom fighter Uwe Jens Lornsen, who was born in Keitum, began his political career on Sylt, and after a stay on the island in August 1887 , Theodor Storm wrote the Sylt novella, which remained unfinished after his death . The emigrant village of Hahndorf in Australia is named after the Westerland captain Dirk Meinerts Hahn . In the lyrics of the songwriter Reinhard Mey there are occasional references to the island - for example in his song Rüm Hart .

More than 100 years ago, the Keitum teacher and local historian Christian Peter Hansen , who is considered to be the island's most important chronicler, ensured that old Sylt would not be forgotten . After his death, homeland researcher Christian Jensen continued his work.

The island has been attracting artists since the advent of tourism in the mid-19th century. Kampen in particular was something of an artist colony at the beginning of the 20th century . In addition to the publishers Ferdinand Avenarius and Peter Suhrkamp , numerous artists came to the island, including poets and thinkers such as Thomas Mann or art, dance, film and theater people such as Gret Palucca and Will Grohmann . Painters such as Julius Bodenstein , Emil Nolde , Albert Aereboe , Anita Rée , Ernst Mollenhauer and Magnus Weidemann (both buried in Keitum), Siegward Sprotte , Otto Eglau , Dieter Röttger , Wilhelm Ludwig Lehmann and Karl-Heinz Berndt-Elbing were also drawn to Sylt . Contemporary artists include the painters and sculptors Rainer Fetting and Ingo Kühl , who live in Berlin and Sylt .

Other cultural aspects

Sylt has always been a location for feature films. Sun turned already Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau much of the exterior shots of his early silent film The walk at night in August 1920 on the island at Kampen. In the spring of 2009, Roman Polański made numerous outdoor shots for his Hollywood film The Ghostwriter in List and Munkmarsch.

Especially in the summer months, Sylt has a considerable density of artists, galleries, exhibitions and readings. Since 2001 the foundation kunst: raum sylt quelle has awarded a literary scholarship every year under the name Inselschreiber . German-speaking writers who have already published in book form can apply.


Web links

Commons : Sylt  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Sylt  - travel guide
Wiktionary: Sylt  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

References and comments

  1. a b c The climate in List / Sylt. In: Retrieved on December 1, 2017 (the climate data mainly relates to the period 1961 to 1990.).
  2. ^ Bernhard Mühr: List on Sylt. Climate diagram. In: June 1, 2007, accessed February 6, 2018 .
  3. Matthias Maluck: Cultural Entities (Schleswig-Holstein) - Sylt. In: Retrieved March 27, 2018 .
  4. Old maps showing the change in the outline of Sylt
  5. a b c Climate Change and Coast - Case Study Sylt (PDF; 2.8 MB) Project of the Research Center for Marine Geosciences at Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel Paleo-Oceanology, sub-project: Climate -induced change in the shape of the island of Sylt
  6. Environmental Atlas Wadden Sea - Volume I - North Frisian and Dithmarsch Wadden Sea. State Office for the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park and Federal Environment Agency (ed.). Stuttgart 1998, p. 38.
  7. See case study Sylt sub-project strategies and options of coastal protection planning for the island of Sylt ( Memento of 10 August 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF) p. 52, where the advantages and risks of rigid coastal protection structures are presented become.
  8. Achim Daschkeit, Horst Sterr: Climate change and coastal protection: Does Sylt have a future? In: Bernhard Glaeser (Ed.): Coast, Ecology and Humans - Integrated Coastal Management as an Instrument of Sustainable Development. 2005 (PDF; 216 kB) p. 278.
  9. Sylt between nature and profit. In: The world
  10. Matthias Bleck: Functional dimensioning of artificial reefs for active and gentle coastal protection Matthias Bleck: Functional dimensioning of artificial reefs for active and gentle coastal protection. ( Memento from November 1, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF)
  11. ^ Jürgen Newig : Sand on Sylt. (PDF; 3.9 MB)
  12. a b Interesting facts about the Braderuper Heide. In: Retrieved May 7, 2018 .
  13. Interesting facts about the Morsum cliff. In: Retrieved May 7, 2018 .
  14. ^ The amphibians and reptiles of Schleswig-Holstein. Red List. 3rd barrel, December 2003 (PDF; 587 kB) State Office for the Environment and Nature of Schleswig-Holstein (Ed.)
  15. Michael Lohmann, Knut Haarmann: Bird paradises: Northern Germany and Berlin . tape 1 . Paul Parey Publishing House, 1989, ISBN 3-490-16418-0 .
  16. Wolf-Rüdiger Grosse, Christian Winkler, Henrik Bringsøe: The herpetofauna of the North Frisian Islands of Denmark and Germany Rana 2015 / H. 16, pp. 9-24.
  17. 75 Years of Nature Reserves on , accessed on July 6, 2016
  18. Ulrike Bergmann: Westerland and Sylt-Ost merge. Sylter Rundschau , May 26, 2008, accessed on December 11, 2009 .
  19. Ulrike Bergmann: The timetable for partial merger: So it goes on now. Sylter Rundschau , May 27, 2008, archived from the original on February 16, 2012 ; Retrieved December 11, 2009 .
  20. ^ Söl'ring: Wäästerlön or Weesterlön
  21. ^ Max Pahl: Hörnum. Heimat am Horn - cross-section and forays through history, life and landscape of the North Sea resort of Hörnum on Sylt. Lunden, Schallhorn publishing house, 1983.
  22. Arthur Dähn: Ring walls and tower mounds. Medieval castles in Schleswig-Holstein. Husum 2001, pp. 148-152.
  23. ^ Wolfgang Laur : Historical place-name dictionary of Schleswig-Holstein. 2nd Edition. Neumünster 1992.
  24. ^ Niels Åge Nielsen: Dansk Etymologisk Ordbog. 1966, 1989.
  25. Nudansk Ordbog. Politics Forlag, Copenhagen 1986.
  26. Det Danske Sprog- og Litteraturselskab: Sylt. In Ordbog over det danske Sprog , accessed December 10, 2011 (Danish)
  27. Beda Venerabilis : Ecclesiastical History of the English People / Book 1 # 15 ( Wikisource )
  28. Bantelmann: Landscape and Settlement of North Frisia in Prehistoric Times. In: History of North Frisia. ISBN 3-8042-0759-6 , pp. 13-56.
  29. ^ Church of St. Severin ( Memento from March 15, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  30. ^ A b Peter Schmidt-Eppendorf: Sylt. Memoirs of an Island. Documents, chronicles, reports from 1001 years. Husum 1977, p. 13.
  31. ^ Ulrich Schulte-Wülwer: Ekensund artists' colony on the north bank of the Flensburg Fjord. P. 200.
  32. They never saw the enemy on Sylt. In: Sylter Rundschau, August 1, 2014.
  33. ^ Frank Bajohr: Our hotel is free of Jews - baths anti-Semitism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-596-15796-X .
  34. a b So Harald Voigt : The Sylt fortress - history and development of the island of Sylt under military influence 1894–1945 . Self-published by Nordfriisk Instituut, Bräist / Bredstedt 1992, ISBN 3-88007-189-6 .
  35. Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag : End of the war on Sylt: We should blow up the Hindenburgdamm completely , from: May 8, 2015; Retrieved on: May 3, 2017
  36. Kurt Friedrichs: Contested Helgoland - The suffering of an island people. Heligoland 1988.
  37. Hospital group adopted. ( Memento from December 2, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 221 kB) On:
  38. Location closed. On:
  39. Sylt Campus University is still on hold. On: on January 25, 2009.
  40. Dr. Bernhard Beyschlag. About the history of the Beyschlag works. In: Holger Bernau, accessed on December 13, 2018 .
  41. Sylt is looking for real residents. Kieler Nachrichten of February 28, 2016, accessed on July 7, 2016
  42. a b c Bernhard Honnigfort: Sylt: Teuer und tot. Frankfurter Rundschau, February 18, 2013, accessed on July 3, 2016 : “Sylt has the highest real estate prices in all of Germany. But the wealthy homeowners are rarely there. And the locals are moving away because their homeland has long since become priceless for them. "
  43. Sum of the population of the municipality of Sylt and the County of Sylt as of December 31, 2014
  44. Sylt has to correct the number of inhabitants. Die Welt vom 12 December 2003, accessed on 7 July 2016
  45. Gentrification on Sylt: In the basement or on the mainland. The daily newspaper of December 19, 2014, accessed on July 6, 2016
  46. Andrea Scharpen: Islanders want babies again. In: Die Tageszeitung - taz.nord - of October 10, 2016, p. 21
  47. a b Guest statistics 2014: Things are looking up., accessed on July 5, 2016
  48. Guide Michelin and Gault Millau distinguish Sylt's top chefs. on November 12, 2015, accessed July 5, 2016
  49. a b Achim Daschkeit, Peter Schottes (ed.): Climate impacts for people and the coast: using the example of the North Sea island of Sylt . Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st ed. 2002. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg 2002, ISBN 978-3-642-56369-0 , pp. 58–59 : "Based on Matusek (1997), the current conflicts can be divided into the areas of agriculture, sealing, settlement, tourism and others."
  50. Environmental data of Schleswig-Holstein: Ramsar area SH Wadden Sea and adjacent coastal areas (EGV DE 0916-491). Ministry of Energy Transition, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Areas, accessed on July 3, 2016 : “For the dune areas of the North Frisian Islands, the conservation of breeding bird populations is the most important protection goal. Important prerequisites for the preservation or the development possibilities of the breeding bird population there are the preservation of the disturbance poverty, the typical habitat structures and functions as well as the natural soil dynamics and dune formation processes. "
  51. Syltaquarium
  52. Adventure center for the forces of nature
  53. The name "Abyssinia" for a stretch of beach at Buhne 31 between Kampen and Wenningstedt came up when the French cargo steamer "Adrar", allegedly with a load of weapons for Abyssinia (Ethiopia), stranded there on October 19, 1935. In the Sylt vernacular the beach in question was soon called "Abyssinia", and this name became - to the annoyance of imperial-Abyssinian diplomats - a synonym for the nude bathing life there. In fact, the Adrar had no weapons on board, she was released on August 17, 1936, but the name has remained to this day.
  54. a b art, water, sea. Retrieved December 11, 2009 .
  55. Frank Deppe: Syltlauf - Around the island in just under two hours. In: The world . March 20, 2000.
  56. DWC-Info: German Windsurf Cup (DWC). Retrieved December 11, 2009 .
  57. Start of broadcasting of Syltfunk / Söl'ring Radio on VHF., accessed on March 2, 2017
  58. Tom Sprenger & Stephan Munder: The catch-up concept for Sylt local radio is in place: Antenne Sylt starts tomorrow on VHF. In: radioWOCHE - Current radio news, FM / DAB + news and radio jobs. February 10, 2019, accessed on March 22, 2019 (German).
  59. ^ H. Lantzsch, S. Kappes, N. Buhles: History of the Clinic for Dermatology and Allergology in the North Sea Clinic / Sylt . In: Current Dermatology . tape 43 , no. 03 , March 3, 2017, ISSN  0340-2541 , p. 113–114 , doi : 10.1055 / s-0043-102796 ( e-journal [accessed December 27, 2017]).
  60. Hospital plan 2017. State of Schleswig-Holstein, accessed on December 27, 2017 .
  61. Comparative data at, accessed on December 27, 2017
  62. Departments of the North Sea Clinic Rehabilitation Clinic. Retrieved December 27, 2017 .
  63. List of submarine cables , accessed on December 7, 2010.
  64. Cycling on Sylt. Sylt Marketing GmbH, archived from the original on May 12, 2019 ; accessed on October 30, 2019 .
  65. Bicycle climate test 2016, result Sylt. Archived from the original on October 17, 2019 ; accessed on October 30, 2019 .
  66. Bicycle climate test 2018, result Sylt. Archived from the original on October 17, 2019 ; accessed on October 30, 2019 .
  67. Bike friendliness Sylt. rader driving Ungen, accessed on 30 October 2019 .
  68. Sylt Island Railway., archived from the original on September 27, 2007 ; Retrieved December 11, 2009 .
  69. ^ Church on Sylt. Ecumenical website of the parishes on the island of Sylt. Retrieved December 11, 2009 .
  70. Den danske Menighed på Sild. Dansk Kirk i Sydslesvig, accessed November 21, 2013 .
  73. Looking for a prayer room.
  74. Information and nyheder. Dansk Kirk i Sydslesvig, accessed November 21, 2013 .
  75. Vesterland Fritidshjem. Sydslesvigs danske Ungdomdsforeninger, accessed on November 21, 2013 .
  76. Bogbusserne. Dansk Centralbibliotek for Sydslesvig, accessed on November 21, 2013 .
  77. Vesterland-Kejtum Danske Skole. Dansk Skoleforeing for Sydslesvig, accessed November 21, 2013 .
  78. ^ Private university planned on Sylt. Hamburger Abendblatt :
  79. Frank Deppe: Sylt elite boarding school is about to end. In: Welt online. June 27, 2012, accessed June 3, 2014 .
  80. Biikebrennen., accessed on December 11, 2009 .
  81. "Jöölboom" - the Frisian Christmas tree., accessed on December 11, 2009 .
  82. Sylt graves tell history In: Sylter Rundschau , accessed on December 20, 2013.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on June 16, 2008 in this version .