After starting our journey in Copenhagen and spending a week at the Viborg Gymnastics and Sports Academy College, we continued our month long journey of exploring Danish culture through the study of Danish Gymnastics outside of the city of Kolding, at a High School Boarding Academy called Ågård Efterskole, which is in a small town called Aagaard, located in the southeastern part of Jutland. If you haven’t noticed, Ågård can also be spelled as Aagaard in the Danish language. Either spelling is correct. Ågård is not only the name of this boarding high school, but it is also the name of the small town in which it is located and Ågård also happens to be a common surname of many Danes! While enjoying the immersion experience of living at the gymnastics boarding school, eating with the students and participating in their classes, we also were able to have a little free time to explore the city of Kolding.
City of Kolding
During our week at the Ågård Efterskole, we also were able to explore Kolding, which is the government seat of the municipality. Kolding is Denmark’s seventh largest city and has a population of about 90,000 people. It is located on the Kolding Fjord so as to be expected, it has a large manufacturing industry specifically for shipbuilding. Kolding is also a large transportation hub due to its location in southern Jutland. There are multiple interesting sites to see around the city of Kolding from the castle to the church, from the town hall to the old city center and the botanical gardens.
The Castle of Koldinghus
You will easily see the Castle of Koldinghus as it stands in the middle of Kolding along the shore of Slotsø Lake. It is actually considered the last royal castle of Jutland even though it was built in 1268 to guard the southern border and protect the Kingdom of Denmark.
It was the last royal residence in Jutland until it burned down and was left in ruins in 1808 while Spanish troops were housed there. After many years, the castle was restored using a different set of materials than what was used to build the original castle. You can easily see some of the original brick foundation that contrasts the wooden material used in the restoration. The castle is now a large tourist attraction to the surrounding area and houses a cultural history museum along with Denmark’s biggest collection of Danish silver.
Kolding City Hall
There has been a town hall in Kolding since the 1500’s, but the current city hall that stands in Kolding was built in 1875. Kolding City Hall has a beautiful clock tower located on the top and chimes every hour throughout the day.
The Old Citizen’s House
Skomager’s House also known as the Old Citizen’s House is the oldest house in Kolding that was built in 1589 and is located in the Helligkorsgade area. The house had to be rebuilt after the great fire that destroyed a large section of Kolding in 1583. For part of the time, it was owned by a family of shoemakers and eventually passed through many different owners and families. It even survived the Battle of Kkolding in 1658. Throughout the different centuries, every new homeowner added to the house or expanded it and eventually it was given to the municipality of Kolding where it was eventually restored in 1939 to what it is today. It is used by the municipality and can be rented out for events and exhibitions.
Geografisk Have (Botanical Gardens)
Geografisk Have actually means Geographical Garden and the name describes it very well because it is a 30 acre botanical garden, where you can learn where the various plants are from because they are organized based on geographical origin. It’s a pretty cool educational concept and many schools bring their students here to learn about horticulture. If you are a lover or roses, you will definitely want to visit this garden. They even have a miniature village of the city of Kolding with homes, businesses and even the castle.
We spent the previous week at a college level Gymnastics and Sports Academy in Viborg and this week, we had a completely different experience because we spent a full week at Ågård Efterskole, which is a High School Boarding Academy focusing on secondary education and gymnastics. It is located in a small town called Ågård or Aagaard, just outside of Kolding. These types of private secondary schools are similar to magnet schools and private schools in the United States, in which the students can receive government grants in order to attend this secondary school education. These schools are for young people, generally between the ages of 14-17. In Denmark, the schools are privately run so there is an annual tuition fee that the parents must pay in order to send their children there, but some families can apply for government funding depending on their financial status. In Denmark, each ‘Efterskole’ must teach the compulsory subjects, but than can choose its main area of study. Ågård Efterskole focuses on Danish Gymnastics, sports and social-cultural values, including general education, co-existence and enlightenment for life, with an emphasis on putting historical, political and cultural issues into context. The foundations of the community at the school are built upon openness, friendliness, tolerance and shared responsibility. Participation in this unique mini-society within the school aims to build relationships and create greater awareness and understanding of others. I must admit that even though I was only there for a week, I felt the school did provide the educational environment that it aims to.
I learned so much for the high school students as they were so inquisitive about America and everything they had heard or seen about the United States in movies. We were the special guests in multiple English classes throughout the week. We participated in multiple gymnastics classes throughout the week as well and I must say, I found the gymnastics and physical exercises to be less intense than the ones we went through the week prior in Viborg, but I think that was because Aagaard Efterskole has a high school level exercise program, while Viborg had college level physical exercise intensity! Truth be told, it actually was probably due to being accustomed to the physical activity we had participated in the week before in Viborg! We loved our time at Aagaard Efterskole, talking with the students, sharing cultures, eating together in the cafeteria, having snowball fights and of course participating in all the Danish Gymnastics with the students. It was definitely a week that I will never forget!
The city of Kolding and the Ågård Efterskole was a wonderful place to spend our third week in Denmark to experience Danish culture and the community building Danish gymnastics creates amongst a group of people! Make sure to check out some of the other Danish cities we visited, including Copenhagen, Viborg and Aarhus on our month long cultural immersion experience in Denmark.
Check out the map below to see where Kolding is located at!
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