Vejle is a town in Denmark, in the southeast of the Jutland Peninsula at the head of Vejle Fjord, where the Vejle River and Grejs River and their valleys converge. It is the site of the councils of Vejle Municipality (kommune) and the Region of Southern Denmark. The city is the ninth largest city in Denmark. The city is part of the Triangle Region, which includes the neighbouring cities of Kolding and Fredericia.
|Region||Southern Denmark (Syddanmark)|
|• Mayor||Jens Ejner Christensen (V)|
|• Urban||32.9 km (12.7 sq mi)|
|• Municipality||1,066.32 km (411.71 sq mi)|
|Elevation||8 m (26 ft)|
|Population (1 January 2020)|
|• Urban density||1,800/km (4,500/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Area code(s)||(+45) 7|
Vejle is most known for its forested hills, fjord, harbour, shopping, pedestrian mall, and windmill.
The word “Vejle” derives from the Old Danish word wæthel, meaning “ford” or “wading place” due to its location at a busy crossing over Vejle River. During Viking times, the wetlands around Vejle had to be crossed at the Ravning Bridge, a nearly half-mile wooden boardwalk.
During the Middle Ages, Vejle was important as a market town, and developed along those lines up to the mid-17th century, trading with cities such as Lübeck and Flensburg, in what is now Germany.
In 1796, though, Vejle was made the seat of the newly founded Vejle County, and the town expanded throughout the 19th century, benefiting from improvements such as a new harbour on the fjord, a railroad station, and modern utilities.
From the mid-19th century into the 20th century, Vejle developed from a provincial market town into a busy industrial centre, eventually becoming known as the “Manchester of Denmark” for its many cotton mills.
Downtown Vejle was built on an island of glacial till in Vejle River remaining from a hill formed during the last ice age.
For a country where the highest natural elevation is only about 170 m (558 ft) above sea level, Vejle is known for the forested hills that rise to the north and south of the town and fjord.
The valleys of the two rivers that converge at Vejle are both unique in Denmark: Vejle River Valley (Vejle Ådal) is the longest tunnel valley in Denmark, and the Grejs Valley (Grejsdalen) is the largest ravine in Denmark.
Both empty into Vejle Fjord, which connects Vejle by water through the Little Belt strait to the Baltic Sea, and through the Kattegat and Skagerrak straits to the Atlantic Ocean.
Vejle is the cultural and economic centre of Vejle Municipality and, as part of the unofficial Triangle Area (Trekantområde), is rich in industry, business, and the service sector. Historically speaking, industry has been very important for the city’s development, while today more weight is placed on business and service, as well as high-tech firms.
During the Industrial Revolution, Vejle was known as the “Manchester of Denmark” due to its extensive textile mills. Today, many of the old mill buildings are used for art studios, office space, and, more recently, apartments.
Later on, newer industries took root in Vejle. The city is home to one of the largest chewing gum factories in the world, producing Stimorol brand chewing gum.
The Tulip slaughterhouses were also an important employer in the city. Today, Tulip has closed its factory at the harbour, but still maintains production in northern Vejle.
Today, Vejle’s economy is shifting out of the industrial sector and into the high-tech sector, with a number of software companies operating out of the city.
Vejle is known regionally as a vibrant shopping town with a wide and varied offering of both chain and specialty shops, primarily located along the city’s central pedestrian mall. Recently, in an effort to maintain its position as a premiere shopping destination, the town has invested in several public works projects to improve the city’s appearance, including lengthening the pedestrian mall, developing new public art and architecture, and uncovering and beautifying Grejs River, which until recently ran in a culvert underneath downtown.
Two new shopping centres, Bryggen and Mary’s, have also recently opened, offering more shopping and restaurants, etc.
Vejle Municipality has also begun a range of nature restoration projects. The most ambitious of these has been the restoration of the Kongens Kær wetlands around the Vejle River just outside the city limits. The city has also undertaken a project to establish two new public beaches for swimming, Albuen and Tirsbæk Strand.
Vejle is home to the headquarters of University College Lillebælt, which is a merger of several educational institutions in East Jutland and Funen.
Adult and professional education is available in Vejle through the Region of Southern Denmark, the Folkeuniversitet (Adult Education Centre), the Vejle Idrætshøjskole (Athletics Professional College), and Skolen for Gastronomi, Musik & Design (School for Gastronomy, Music, and Design).
On the secondary education level, Vejle offers several options: Vejle Handelsskole (Vejle Business School) offers business and professional programs; Vejle Tekniske Gymnasium (Vejle Technical School) offers vocational and technical education; and Rødkilde Gymnasium (on the fjord) and Rosborg Gymnasium offer academic programs with concentrations in language and science.
On the primary level, Vejle has 11 regular primary schools (folkeskoler), 2 independent schools (friskoler), and 5 private schools (privatskoler) – one secular, one Protestant, one Catholic, one Islamic and one Waldorf-Steiner method school – as well as 2 schools for special needs students. Unique to Vejle is a special program for athletically talented students starting in late primary school and continuing through Vejle Handelsskole.
Arts and attractions
In the arts, the most well-known personality from Vejle is composer Jacob Gade, who wrote the Tango Jalousie. Other artists include author Ulrik Gräs, priest and historial Anders Sørensen Vedel, author Karl Bjarnhof, poet Inger Christensen, artist Albert Bertelsen, and actress Bodil Jørgensen.
In the early and mid-20th century, Vejle had several popular cultural destinations such as Trædballehus in the western part of town and the Munkebjerg Casino south of the fjord.
Trædballehus, an inn and music venue, which burned down in 1954, got its big breakthrough in the mid-1930s when it was featured on Danish National Radio in connection with the opening of the old Little Belt Bridge. 1933 Hotel Munkebjerg boasted Europe’s longest wooden escalator, carrying guests from the fjord-side beach up to the hilltop casino. Munkebjerg still exists as a hotel, casino and conference centre.
Vejle Mill, located on top of the cliff at Søndermarken, is a well-known landmark because of its visibility, and is often used as a symbol of the city.
Vejle’s oldest extant building, St. Nicolai Church, was built in the mid-13th century. On display in the church is the Haraldskær bog woman, a body from the Iron Age that was preserved with its skin intact in a local peat bog. Another feature of the church are 23 spherical indentations on the north transept – legend says these are imprints of the skulls of executed robbers from the woods that surround Vejle.
Among the city’s cultural institutions is the renovated and expanded Vejle Museum of Art. The museum features the Wörzner collection with several COBRA works as well as works by Rembrandt. Today, Vejle Town Museum is located in the renovated Spinning Mill.
The Socialists’ former stronghold in Vejle, The Building, is today placed under glass in a new shopping center, Mary’s, and houses restaurants, cafés and two venues for e.g. jazz concerts. Økolariet is a free edutainment center for both children and adults, focusing on technology, ecology, recycling, etc.
Vejle is situated close to several Jutland attractions such as the original Legoland and the Viking Age royal capital of Jelling. Jelling’s archaeological artifacts are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and include two 10th century rune stones and two burial mounds, as well as a new exhibition centre.