Aabenraa or Åbenrå [a] (German: Apenrade, Southern Jutland: Affenrå) is a town in southeastern Southern Jutland with 16,425 inhabitants (2020). The city is located in Aabenraa Municipality and belongs to the Region of Southern Denmark. Aabenraa is first and foremost known for having South Jutland's largest port with significant shipping and port industry. The depth makes the harbor Denmark's third deepest (8.5 meters) and by far the most important in the South Jutland area.

Aabenraa is also an ancient city with architecture from different eras. Significant buildings in Aabenraa include St. Nicolai Church from the time of the Valdemars and Brundlund Castle, founded by Queen Margrethe I (around the year 1400). There are also several well-preserved 19th century city districts around the following streets: Slotsgade, Store Pottergade, Lille Pottergade, Nygade, Nybro, Skibbrogade and Gildegade.



Early history of the city
Opnør was originally a village by the river. The name first appears in the written sources in King Valdemar's Land Book from 1231. The village developed in the early Middle Ages around the episcopal castle Opnør Hus into a small urban community with harbor, crafts and fishing. That the harbor was the town's lifeblood is confirmed by a document from 1257. Here Christoffer I gives the monks in Løgumkloster customs freedom if their ships should call at "our harbor in Obenroe".

Aabenraa belonged after the division of the inheritance in 1560 and until the inheritance tribute in 1721 under the dukes of Gottorp.

The city had its heyday from the 1750s until 1864, when the city's shipping was booming with trade in the Mediterranean, China, South America and Australia. The sailors brought home distinctive customs and wealth from the East in particular. Aabenraa had the Danish monarchy's largest merchant fleet after Copenhagen and Flensburg. The city's four to six shipyards were famous for their ships. Most famous was the clipper Cimber, who in 111 days in 1857 sailed from Liverpool to San Francisco.

History since 1864
After the war in 1864, Aabenraa as the rest of Southern Jutland was taken over by Austria and Prussia and after 1866 as part of a province in Prussia. Like Flensburg, Aabenraa did not succeed in converting the shipyards to build steamships, and development stagnated. The town got a navigation school and in 1901 a narrow-gauge railway connection to Rødekro. Throughout the period, Aabenraa was the center of North Schleswig for the national tensions between Danish and German. In 1900, Sprogforeningen bought Schweizerhalle by Haderslevvej and turned it into a Danish town hall under the name Folkehjem. Here, the South Jutland politician H.P. Hanssen in November 1918 the right of the southern Jews to national self-determination.

In the referendum in 1920, 55% voted in Aabenraa to belong to Germany, but as it was the result for the entire zone 1 that was valid, Aabenraa, like the rest of Southern Jutland, returned to Denmark. In the Reunification Garden between Madevej and H.P. Hanssens Vej stands a monument to H.P. Hanssen, created by the sculptor Rikard Axel Poulsen in 1945. Another memory in the city of the Reunification in 1920 is found in front of Folkehjem, where there are 5 boundary stones from the former Kongeå border.

In the interwar years, Aabenraa was the center of the German minority in North Schleswig. A new German newspaper, Der Nordschleswiger, was published in 1946, a German private school and a library were established in 1947 and a kindergarten in 1956.

In 1925, the harbor was expanded with a 450-meter quay and a Sønderjyllands Højspændingsværk power plant, and this meant increased employment for many workers in the 1930s. Today, there is a diverse industry ranging from Marcussen's Organ Building to Callesen's Machine Factory.

Sønderjyllandshallen was inaugurated in 1956, where the region's major fairs, sports events and congresses are held.

Former capital of Southern Jutland County
In 1970, the city became the administrative center for the County of Southern Jutland. Since 2007, the former County of Southern Jutland has been merged with other surrounding counties into the Region of Southern Denmark. The town is now also part of a larger municipality, still with the name Aabenraa Municipality together with the old municipalities: Rødekro, Lundtoft, Tinglev and Bov. The current Aabenraa Municipality corresponds in scope almost to the old Aabenraa County, except for the Gråsten area.