Baltrum is a barrier island off the coast of East Frisia (German: Ostfriesland), in Germany, and is a municipality in the district of Aurich, Lower Saxony. It is located in-between the chain of the seven inhabited East Frisian Islands. Baltrum is the smallest island in this chain by area and inhabitants.
It is located in the middle of the island chain known as the East Frisian Islands (German: Ostfriesische Inseln) and is the smallest permanently inhabited island in the chain according to the area and number of inhabitants. The tidal creek Wichter Ee in the west separates Baltrum from Norderney and the tidal creek Accumer Ee in the east separates it from Langeoog. There are two villages on the island – Ostdorf (English: Eastern village) and Westdorf (English: Western village) – although they have essentially merged into one. The ferry for Baltrum departs from the small port near the village of Neßmersiel (in the parish of Dornum) with connection to the train station of Norden. The island has its own ferry terminal and a small airstrip. The island is about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) long and 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) wide. It covers an area of 6.5 square kilometres (2.5 sq mi) and has a population of around 600 people, swelling to about 3,500 during the summer months due to tourism. Tourists (mainly from the Ruhr Area in North Rhine-Westphalia) travel to Baltrum to enjoy the countryside of the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park, the beach and attractions such as the indoor swimming pool filled with sea water or a miniature golf course. The highest point on the isalnd is a central coastal dune with an viewing platform on top called Aussichtsdüne in German and is 19.3 metres (63 ft) above sea-level.
Although Baltrum became a seaside resort in 1876, the tourism grew very slowly. Since 1966 Baltrum has been a seaside health resort approved by the state of Germany. Two hotels were opened in the end of the 19th century, Hotel Küperin 1892 and Hotel zur Post in 1895. Before the World War II broke out 5,000 to 6,000 people visited Baltrum annually. In 1960 nearly 17,000 tourists showed up and since the 1970s there are over 30,000 people making holidays every year during the peak season. Besides the approximately 500 inhabitants about 3,000 guests are constantly living on the island during the peak seasons exhausting the acceptance capacity of the two small villages. In comparison to the other East Frisian islands the inhabitants of Baltrum supported the tourism latish.
Points of interest
- Old church of the island: In 1826 the church was built as Lutheran church, later used as Catholic church, afterwards as a morgue. In present days it is only used for marriage ceremonies, baptisms and cultural events.
- Great Lutheran church of the island: This church was built in the years of 1929–30. Both naves were attached in 1959, the tower was elevated in 1964–65.
- Saint Nicholas church: The foundation block of the Catholic church was laid on Saint Nicholas Day in 1956 and consecrated on Ascension Day in 1957. The church has a closed building used during the winter (winter church) and a thatching roofed building used in the summer season (summer church). The winter church has seats for 50 people and the summer church can receive up to 300 people. The constructor of the church was the architect Heinrich Feldwisch-Drentrup from Osnabrück, the glass windows were created by Margarete Franke.
- Historical palisade for protection: The palisade for protection (German: Historisches Pfahlschutzwerk) is located at the southwestern side. It was positioned in the 1880s and renewed in 1930–31. Nowadays it is only a section of the original palisade in-between the tiny harbor and the western end. It is heritage-protected and due to extensive restoration works in 2008 repaired at the western side.
- Museum of local history in the old custom house: The museum was opened in the old custom house by the associaton of local history of Baltrum on May 24, 2007. The exhibition covers the local and the natural history.
- National park museum: Founded in 1987 in the former shed of the shipping company Baltrum Linie and focuses on the tides.