Ebb & flow - life between the tides
Off the West coast of Schleswig-Holstein in the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park lies the island of Föhr - in close proximity to the islands of Sylt, Amrum and the North Frisian Halligen islands. A mild climate prevails here due to the island's protected location and the warm Gulf Stream. Long expansive beaches, green marshland, idyllic Frisian villages and the small town of Wyk characterise the island. In the summer months, long walks along the beach or across the Wadden Sea mudflats provide a welcome break from the daily routine before settling into a roofed wicker beach chair overlooking the sea to relax. Throughout the rest of the year in the spring, autumn and winter, you can enjoy relaxing peace and tranquillity on the island, while reading, taking advantage of numerous wellness offerings, hiking or simply doing nothing. A bicycle ride across the green island and through the picturesque Frisian villages with their thatched cottages, or a small stroll through the town of Wyk with its many little shops and cafés is always worthwhile. The island of Föhr covers 82 square kilometres, measuring 12.5 kilometres in length and 8.5 kilometres in width. It is home to approximately 8500 inhabitants, who live in the town of Wyk and the island's sixteen small villages.
Formed in the ice age
Deposits of the last ice age, which ended about 15,000 years ago, created the islands of Sylt, Föhr and Amrum. Initially, marshland formed by sediment washed up from the sea connected the islands to each other and what is now the mainland. The first traces of human settlement are from the Viking Age. On the island of Föhr, large grave sites near the villages of Goting and Hedehusum and the circular rampart of Lembecksburg near Borgsum bear witness to the life of the Vikings. South Frisians then began settling the area starting in the 8th century AD. Agriculture and sea salt production were the primary livelihoods at the time. The first Christian churches were built in this region around the year 1200 and the St. Johannes Church in Nieblum was erected on the territory of the present-day island of Föhr.
Föhr was mentioned for the first time in 1231. The St. Laurentii Church was built around 1240. In 1362 the Saint Marcellus' flood swept large swaths of land into the sea and only the so-called geest ridges, which had been formed by glacial deposits in the ice age, remained as islands. In 1634, this was followed by a second devastating storm surge, the Burchardi flood, which once again transformed the islands. Around the same time, whaling was discovered as a source of income and agricultural endeavours intensified.
The first sea baths were established in Wyk in 1819. The place served as the summer residence of the Danish king for several years. In 1864, Schleswig and the North Frisian Islands fell to Prussia as a consequence of the Second Schleswig War. Up until that time, Westerland Föhr was an enclave of the Kingdom of Denmark for four centuries and Osterland Föhr belonged to the Duchy of Schleswig. Frisian was and still is spoken in the Westerland section, whereas Low German was and is more common in the Osterland area.
An increasing lack of prospects resulted in several waves of emigration in the hundred years which followed. As a result, more people originating from Föhr currently live in the United States than on the island itself. In 1946 the German State of Schleswig-Holstein was founded and the island of Föhr has been part of this State since that time
The Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park was formed in 1985. The park extends over 4,410 square kilometres, making it the largest national park in Germany by far. Over two-thirds of the park's total area is in the sea. The species-rich flora and fauna, which includes seals and porpoises, are a true delight for nature lovers.