The city and municipality (15,856 inhabitants end 2014) of Aabenraa or Åbenrå; Sønderjysk: Affenråe), is at the head of the Aabenraa Fjord, an arm of the Little Belt, in Denmark. It was the seat of Sønderjyllands Amt (South Jutland County) until 1 January 2007, when the Region of Southern Denmark was created as part of the 2007 Danish Municipal Reform.
The name Aabenraa originally meant "open beach" (Danish: åben strand).
Aabenraa was first mentioned in historic accounts in the 12th century, when it was attacked by the Wends.
Aabenraa started growing in the early Middle Ages around Opnør Hus, the bishop's castle, and received status as a merchant town in 1240, and in 1335 it received a charter. During the Middle Ages the town was known for its fishing industry and for its production of hops.
Between 1560 and 1721 the town was under the rule of the Dukes of Holstein-Gottorp.
The town's glory days were during the period of the 1750s to c. 1864, when ship traffic was at a high growth rate with trade to the Mediterranean Sea, China, South America, and Australia.
From 1864 as a result of the Second War of Schleswig it was part of Prussia, and as such part of the North German Confederation, and from 1871 onwards, part of the German Empire. In the 1920 Schleswig Plebiscite that brought Northern Schleswig to Denmark, 55.1% of Aabenraa's inhabitants voted for remaining part of Germany and 44.9% voted for the cession to Denmark. However, since a plurality of votes in the surrounding Aabenraa municipality voted to join Denmark, the town was thus ceded to the Danish crown.
Postmarks in Denmark
After the 1948 Danish spelling reform, which abolished the digraph Aa in favor of Å, there was fervent resistance in Aabenraa. The town feared, among other things, to lose its status as first in international alphabetical listings, because the letter Å is the last letter in the Dano-Norwegian alphabet. A later revision of the spelling rules allowed for retaining the Aa spelling as an option. While the municipality of Aabenraa and most local citizens use the Aa spelling, Åbenrå remains the option recommended by the Danish Language Board.
Postmarks in German Empire (1871-1920)
Postmarks in North German Confederation
Since 1 January 1868.