Ten things you didn’t know about the Oresund Bridge

It's transformed life in Malmö and Copenhagen. But as the Oresund Bridge celebrates its 20th anniversary, here are ten things you probably didn't know about it.

Ten things you didn't know about the Oresund Bridge
The Oresund Bridge has transformed life in Malmö and Copenhagen. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

1) It's the tallest bridge or building in Scandinavia 

At 204m high, the pylons are taller than both Malmö's Turning Torso building at 190m, and than Herlev Hospital in Copenhagen. And at 82,000 tonnes, the steel and concrete structure is heavy — weighing as much as eight Eiffel Towers.

A proposal for the a two-level bridge from 1954. 

2) It was first proposed 90 years before it was completed

And it took 30 years to build after Denmark and Sweden agreed to do it. 

In 1910, a proposal was made to Sweden's parliament for an underwater railway tunnel across the Oresund Straits between Malmö and Copenhagen, which would cross the island of Saltholm on land. In 1936, a consortium of Danish engineering firms proposed a bridge, which would be built in parallel with a bridge linking Fyn and Zealand. 
The governments of Denmark and Sweden then signed an agreement to build a fixed link in 1973, which would have involved a bridge from Malmö to Saltholm, and then a tunnel from Saltholm to Copenhagen. The current bridge stems from a new agreement made in 1991. 

3) The bridge's completion was celebrated with a royal embrace 

In 1999, the then 22-year-old Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden met her then 31-year-old Danish counterpart Crown Prince Frederik in the middle of the bridge for a symbolic meeting. 

The two royals embrace at the completion of the bridge. Photo: Søren Steffen/Nf-Nf/Ritzau Scanpix

4) Peberholm, the artificial island at the end of the bridge, still lacks any terrestrial predators

While rabbits, hares and mice have all established colonies on the island, so far no land-based carnivores have made it over the threaten their peaceful existence. The artificial island has also seen more than 400 plant species establish themselves, including rare ones such as Danish astragel and meat-colored cuckoo herb. 

5) It carries the crucial data cable linking Sweden and Norway to Europe

The Øresund Dark Fibre Link has cables running in separate tunnel tubes and on opposite sides of the bridge in order to optimise redundancy.

6) It was the inspiration behind the 2014 Manic Street Preachers song “Walk Me to the Bridge”  

No, the song wasn't, as many thought, about the Severn Bridge, where the car of the band's troubled original singer Richie Edwards was discovered on the day he disappeared.

“It really isn't about that, it's about the Øresund Bridge that joins Sweden and Denmark,” the band's bassist and lyricist Nicky Wire told the Quietus. 

7) There have been no deaths or murders on the bridge 

While several traffic accidents on the bridge over the years, there have been no deaths on the bridge since it opened, and certainly no gruesome crimes similar to the opening scene of the hit 2011 television drama The Bridge, where a body, cut in half at the waist, is left at the exact centre of the road crossing.

8)  Peberholm is a breeding ground for 30 species of birds 

Many of them are rare and protected. There are at least six species of gulls and three species of terns, and different species of waders and geese.

9) In 2000 it hosted the world's largest non-motorised race between two countries

Between June 9th and June 12th, the bridge was shut to traffic and 80,000 people cycled, rolled and ran across the bridge in what the bridge consortium claims is the largest exercise race ever held between two countries. 

10). Repainting it will take 12 years. 

In the spring of 2020, the consortium launched a repainting project, which will see 300,000 m2 of area repainted and and which will continue until 2032. The contract is expected to cost 300 million Danish kroner. 


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What are the hardest things about moving to provincial Denmark as a foreigner?

Foreign residents who have moved to lesser-known regions of the country share their experiences of life in provincial Denmark. 

Provincial regions of Denmark want to attract skilled foreign workers, but what are the biggest challenges faced by relocators?
Provincial regions of Denmark want to attract skilled foreign workers, but what are the biggest challenges faced by relocators? Photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

Editor’s note: there are of course also many positives about living in provincial Denmark, and people based in those areas were happy to share those too. Read what they said in this article.

When Lea Cesar moved from Slovenia to the town of Ringkøbing in 2011, she didn’t know much about the region of western Jutland. 

“In the beginning, I didn’t like how difficult it was to find a job as a foreigner in a smaller city,” Cesar told The Local. Back then she didn’t speak Danish, and that made it hard to find a job that matched her skills and qualifications. 

“I later took it as a challenge and started my own company,” Cesar said, opening a cafe and bakery called Baking Sins in central Ringkøbing. Once she’d taken things into her own hands, she thrived and came to love her town. 

“I love the small shops with handcrafted products,” she said, drawing a comparison to the big shops and chain stores of larger cities. “The culture here is totally different. Ringkøbing is a smaller town, but feels big enough for me.”

Considering the pros and cons of a life in lesser-known parts of Denmark has never been more relevant, as the Danish government amps up efforts to decentralise Denmark and municipalities look to internationals to balance out declining populations. 

READ ALSO: Is it easier for foreigners to find a job outside Denmark’s major cities?

There may be fewer job opportunities, depending on your industry and Danish language skills

Fewer job opportunities, Cesar said, is one of the primary differences between living in a town like Ringkøbing versus a larger city. 

“There aren’t as many companies here searching for employees that only speak English,” she said. “I think it’s important to speak at least basic Danish; otherwise it would be hard to come here.”

Antoniya Petkov, originally from Bulgaria, faced similar challenges finding work when she moved to Ringkøbing several years ago after her husband accepted a job at a wind energy company in the area. 

“Most of the job opportunities in my field in the area require a high level of Danish language, which I am still working toward,” Petkov told The Local. 

In the meantime, she continues to commute to Aarhus, where she works as a technical recruiter in systematics at a large Danish software firm. “However, there are a lot more opportunities for developers, engineers and people with a technical job profile where Danish isn’t required,” Petkov said.

Even in technical roles, Danish proficiency helps. 

Victor Balaban, originally from Moldova, moved to Vejle while working at Siemens Gamesa. Although he said there are plenty of job opportunities in the region, Balaban said his options would be significantly more limited if he didn’t speak Danish.

Candice Progler-Thomsen, an American living in Lolland, said Danish proficiency is “almost essential” to find a job in the municipality. “There will be greater job opportunities here for individuals who learn Danish,” she told The Local. 

And, because it’s a smaller area with fewer employers, Progler-Thomsen said people may need to be willing to commute or otherwise expand their job search.

READ ALSO: Why (and how) Danish provincial areas want to hire skilled foreign workers

On the other hand, there may also be less competition for jobs in lesser-known parts of Denmark, said Mariola Kajkowska. 

Originally from Poland, Kajkowska moved to Vejle in 2019, where she works as an employee retention consultant. “There are often fewer applicants for each job, which increases your chance to be selected for the position,” she said.

Speaking Danish is important, professionally and socially

When Petkov first moved to Ringkøbing, it was challenging that she didn’t speak Danish. It was hard to do daily tasks, like communicate with workers at her children’s daycare or chat with her neighbours.

“People were distant at first when we bought our house in a typical Danish neighbourhood,” she said. 

It was very different from Aarhus, where they had lived before moving to Ringkøbing. “Aarhus has a huge international community,” she said. “We were always able to find friends and it was easy to get by speaking English.”

Petkov also missed the variety of English events and activities available in Aarhus. “But, we compensate by going to international events in the municipality,” she said.

Balaban, who established baseball clubs in both Herning and Vejle, said being a part of the community and getting involved is integral to building a social network and making friends in Vejle. “You have to be an active part of society,” he said.

Although learning Danish was a challenge, Petkov also saw it as an opportunity. “I’m not sure I would have learned Danish if we were living in Copenhagen or Aarhus,” she said. “You just don’t need it much there.”

Now, she’s learned enough Danish to engage in small talk with her neighbours. “Once people got used to us, we felt very welcome,” Petkov said, “though I don’t think we will ever blend completely.”

Chris Wantia, also a resident of Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality, has found Danish to be integral to life in rural Denmark. 

He lives in the village of Bork Havn, population 300. “When I walk out of my house, I don’t expect my 65-year-old Danish neighbour to speak to me in English,” Wantia told The Local.

“English may be fine in the big cities, but speaking Danish here is important,” he said, adding that it would have been very challenging to purchase and renovate the two homes he and his wife, Janine, own in the municipality if he didn’t speak Danish. 

A second silver lining Petkov has identified is that living in Ringkøbing has also enabled her family to engage more deeply with Danes and Danish culture, adding that most of her friends are Danish. 

“If you really want to dive into Danish culture, a place like Ringkøbing is amazing,” she said.

There’s less to do, depending on your interests (and you might need to drive)

“You can count on one hand the number of good restaurants within 50 kilometres of Bork Havn,” Wantia told The Local. Although that wasn’t a dealbreaker for him and his wife, Janine, it might be worth some consideration before moving to a village like Bork Havn. 

“If you want many restaurants, parties, or meeting new people all the time, this isn’t the place for you,” he said. “It’s quiet here. Some people might not like that, but it’s perfect for us.”

Vejle, though much larger than Bork Havn with a population of 113,000, also isn’t a very lively city in terms of nightlife, according to Balaban.

“I’d say it’s a mature city,” he said. “It’s a quiet city that attracts a lot of families and people who are more settled down.”

Ultimately, having ‘things to do’ nearby depends on which activities you prefer. 

In Lolland, Progler-Thomsen said it’s “a bit of a sacrifice” to not have easy access to the cultural activities the family had in Copenhagen. 

READ ALSO: Are provincial parts of Denmark a good option for international families?

In exchange, her family has access to activities it enjoys that weren’t available in Copenhagen, including many outdoor activities and sports. “We love the Safari Park that’s only a 7-minute drive from our house,” Progler-Thomsen said. 

That’s something else to consider, though: driving. 

Kajkowska, in Vejle, said driving will play more of a role in one’s life, living in these parts of Denmark. “I was at a party the other night and two cars had driven one and a half hours from Sønderborg to come to the party,” she said.

READ ALSO: What benefits does life in provincial Denmark offer foreign residents?

For the most part, Petkov said she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out by living in Ringkøbing.

She enjoys several favorite cafes in town, an Italian restaurant where they are regulars and enjoy chatting with the owners, exploring the beaches and woods, and escaping to the wellness hotel near their house for mini-breaks. “In the summer, it feels like living at a resort,” Petkov said. 

“Ringkøbing is a great place for our family,” she said. “The benefits outweigh the drawbacks for us.”