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Halligen – The Islands of Germany that Are Slowly Disappearing

In medieval times there were even 50, while in 1600 there were 25. Today they are only ten. They are the Halligen, small islands between the North Frisian Islands of the North Sea, on the border between Germany and Denmark. But why are they gradually disappearing? These tiny strips of land are submerged every winter by the tides of the Wadden Sea. As a result, over time some of them have been completely swallowed up by water.

Halligen

In medieval times there were even 50, while in 1600 there were 25. Today they are only ten. All the others are underwater. We are talking about the Halligen, small islands between the North Frisian Islands of the North Sea, on the border between Germany and Denmark.

But why are they gradually disappearing? These tiny strips of land are submerged every winter by the tides of the Wadden Sea. As a result, over time some of them have been completely swallowed up by water.

The Halligen – The Islands That Disappear Over the Centuries

Their existence is constantly at risk due to the action of the sea. For about 60 days a year, the water covers these islands. Over time this has made Halligen a fascinating tourist destination. However, visitors can only visit them from April to October, when the islets are dry.

Since 2009 the Halligen have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are part of the Nationalpark Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer. At high tide, the water completely surrounds the little houses built on the Halligen, which seem to float in the middle of the sea. But with the arrival of the summer season the small farms emerge in all their beauty.

Do People Live on These Islets?

Actually, some people seem to live on these curious islands. Not during the whole year, however. The houses are on artificial heaps of land, the so-called warft. These serve a very important function, as they keep the structure safe during periods of low tide. Five of these houses are inhabited during the spring and summer months.

There are 3 main islands: Langeneß, Oland (connected to the mainland) and Hooge, known as the “Queen of Halligen“. According to legend during a storm this island gave shelter to a Danish king. The king stayed in the beautiful Königshaus, decorated with white and blue tiles and baroque frescoes on the ceiling.

The Halligen are particularly popular with nature lovers. Many tourists often visit them on day trips, starting from the Nationalparkhaus in Husum, the nearest coastal town. With a bit of luck you can see seals lying on sandy beaches. On the other hand, sheep, cows and various types of birds attracted by the salty meadows are permanent residents during the warm season.

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