The fascinating history of the Danish city of Aalborg

Aalborg

Aalborg is an industrial center and university city in Northern Jutland, Denmark. It has the fourth largest population in the country, but that doesn’t take away from the coziness and charm of a small northern town full of sunshine, peace and life.

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History

The first settlements in the area date back to 700 B.C., and their fortunate location on the shores of the Limfjord gave trade and ports a chance to develop. In the Middle Ages the city of Aalborg already became an important trading port, and later a developed industrial center. At its present stage, Aalborg is in a transitional phase between the industrial and informational stages of development.

As already mentioned, Aalborg began its history as a port city. And was known under the name Alaboo, which roughly translates to “dwelling by the brook. The remains of the first settlements can now be seen on the hill that towers over the city. Their size suggests the importance of Aalborg at the crossroads of northern trade routes.

In the Middle Ages, the thriving commercial port of Aalborg became one of the largest cities in the Danish kingdom. The granting of the herring monopoly in 1516 contributed a great deal to this. The fish trade linked Aalborg across the North Sea to the cities on the east coast of England, and there has been close cultural and commercial contact between the two ever since. The interior of the Aalborg wooden room house can be admired in the National Museum in Copenhagen – it shows many architectural borrowings from the English Jacobean style.

Aalborg received its city privileges in 1342.

The history of the city developed in close conjunction with the general history of the country until 1940, when in the very early stages of World War II Aalborg was invaded by German paratroopers. The fact is that Aalborg was a military airfield of strategic importance to the German army, which was planning to develop an offensive in Norway.

Aalborg sights

Like any ancient city, Aalborg is simply filled with historical sites, museums and parks.

The most distinctive and interesting monument to the city’s rich history is Aalborg Castle, built by King Christian III from 1539 to 1555. It originally served as a defensive fortress, and later became the residence of the governors in Northern Jutland.

The building that became the basis for the castle had existed here since 1340 and belonged to Queen Margaret I of Denmark. Here in 1513, King Hans died, who was seriously injured after falling from his horse. King Frederick I originally intended to demolish the building, but left the final decision to his son, Christian III. In 1539, the building was demolished, and a guest architect, Morten Bassert, built a new fortified castle a little north of the old structure, by the banks of the Limfjord. The fortified castle wall stretched along the coast of the fjord, and a little later, in 1633, Christian IV built the northern wing, which was used as a food storage place. In the early 19th century, the southern facade of the building was created, but all that remains of the castle today in its original form is in its eastern part.

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Another monument of architecture, the 5-story house of merchant Jens Bang, built in 1624, is located near the town hall. This house is recognized as one of the most beautiful architectural structures of the Renaissance. But during the construction of the house the architects did not do without a share of sarcasm – on the southern pediment of the building you can see eerie sculptural image of the owner of the house, who shows the language of the town hall.

A remarkable monument of Gothic architecture is the city cathedral of Oldens. According to historical accounts, Christian missionaries arrived in the area around the 9th century AD. In 948 Denmark was divided into dioceses and Aalborg came under the rule of the Bishop of Viborg. Of the first temple buildings in Aalborg not a trace remained – wooden buildings, as you know, are not durable. A little later churches began to be built of stone, and now in the basement of Olden Cathedral you can see the stone remains of the foundations of ancient buildings.

The existing Cathedral of St. Budolfi in Aalborg was built in the last decades of the 14th century and is consecrated in honor of St. Budolf, an English abbot and ascetic. His reputation as a scholar and high-spirited man and patron saint of farmers and sailors made him a popular and revered saint in pre-Reformation Denmark.

In 1554 the cathedral became the seat of the abbot of the Lutheran Church of Aalborg. In 1800 the cathedral was partially demolished, of the original structures survived only the tower, a sharp spire rising into the sky of Aalborg.

Another Aalborg church, dedicated to the Mother of God, is a relatively modern structure. The original church of the Virgin Mary, which had stood here since the 12th century, was destroyed during the Reformation.

Aalborg is also rich in museums. For example, recently in the area of the main pedestrian shopping street of the city was opened museum of the excavated monastery, dating back to the 11th century. Visitors to the museum can observe the excavations and admire the artifacts found.

Get acquainted with the early history of the city you can also in Lindholm Hee, which is one of the main and largest Viking burials, as well as ancient settlements, located north of Aalborg. The first large-scale excavations of the burial grounds began in 1952, although the first attempts to excavate the antiquities were made as early as 1889.

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In the southern part of Lindholm Hee artifacts date back to 1000 – 1050 AD, while in the northern part much older items have been found, around 700 AD.

Most of the burials discovered indicate that the Vikings had a tradition of cremating their dead. However, some of the burials are traditional as we understand them. Upon closer examination, it appears that the periods of cremation and burial are clearly separated in time, indicating a change in burial rites. Most of the graves are marked with stones arranged in the traditional boat shape – an indication of the great importance the Vikings placed on water. The shape and size of these “boats” testify to the position and sex of the deceased.

Lindholm Hee is a truly large-scale and impressive spectacle, which allows you to get a closer look at the life and culture of the Vikings.

In Aalborg you can visit the city historical museum, where all the rich history of the city is presented in a concentrated form, as well as the museum of modern art and art museum.

An unforgettable view of the city and the fjords opens from the city tower, built in 1933. Its height is 105 meters above sea level. If you are visiting Aalborg with children, they will love the idea of visiting the city’s zoo and stepping from the cool northern city into the African savannah full of exotic animals for a few hours. In the harsh northern climate live, and quite well themselves zebras and elegant antelope, bizarre ostriches and graceful long-necked giraffes. In the pond, under a huge rock, a pygmy hippo bathes, and raptors gather at the watering hole. The zoo management adheres to the position that the animals must be admired not in artificial cages, but in conditions, as close as possible to the conditions of their native habitat. That is why Aalborg Zoo is a real piece of distant Africa. Even a 15-meter baobab grows here.

A cultural experience is good, of course, but it’s hard to understand Aalborg’s atmosphere without wandering its narrow streets and sitting in its cozy restaurants. A huge cluster of them can be found on Jomfru Ann Gade, the city’s most popular street. This is a favorite place of rest of citizens and tourists during the daytime and in the evening local clubs, bars and discos gather the lovers of active recreation. For lovers of beach holidays near the city are some of the most beautiful beaches in Denmark.

Of course, Aalborg – it’s a beautiful city, which embodies the harsh and beautiful spirit of northern nature, Viking culture, a thousand years of European development and interaction and modern technology. Not to visit it when traveling in Denmark means missing a small but important part of its past, present and future.

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Transportation

Almost all of the buses operating within the city limits stop at JF Kennedys Plads and pass through the city center at Østerågade and Nytorv, near the Burger King. The fare is 16kr, you can buy a pass (klippekort) for 10 trips for 104kr. More information about bus passes and timetables can be obtained from the Nordjyllands Trafikselskab information office at the bus station (JF Kennedys Plads) or by calling 98 11 11.

Cabs can be called at 98 10 10 10 or 98 12 48 00, or found at the parking lot at the train station. Another popular form of transport in summer, bicycles, can be rented at Munk’s Eftf (Løkkegade 25) for 80/400 kr per day/week, they usually give a map of Aalborg for free.

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How to get there

Aalborg International Airport is located 6.5 km northwest of the city center. It receives daily flights from Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki and about 10 flights a week from London’s Gatwick Airport by Sterling. You can get to the airport by buses 2A and 2B (from the ‘E’ stop at JF Kennedys Plads), which leave every half hour. The fare is 16kr.

There are trains departing from Aalborg railway station every hour north to Frederikshavn (83kr, 1¼ hours) and south to Århus (153kr, 1½ hours) and Copenhagen (338kr, 5 hours).

Intercity buses stop at the station at JF Kennedys Plads (near the new shopping center), south of the train station. From here you can get to almost all cities in North Jutland by X-bus. Thinggaard Express Route 981 runs several times a week to Odense (190kr, 4½ hours), via Randers, Århus and Vejle.

Aalborg

Aalborg (Denmark) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Aalborg with descriptions, guides and maps.

Aalborg, Denmark

Aalborg is a city in northern Denmark in the northern part of the Jutland Peninsula. Located on the banks of the Lim Fjord (the system of straits connecting the North Sea and the Kattegat Bay), thanks to which in the Middle Ages it was considered one of the most important Danish ports and flourished through trade. Aalborg is a modern university city with a quaint medieval center that dates back to Viking times.

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Geography and climate

Aalborg is located in the lowlands of Northern Jutland at the narrowest point of the Lim Fjord. The city is located 30km west of Kattegat Bay, 150km from Copenhagen and 118km north of Aarhus. Aalborg is surrounded by hills, marshes and forests. The climate is humid continental. It is characterized by cool summers and relatively mild, wet winters and the off-season.

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Aalborg Panorama

Aalborg Panorama

Tourist information

  1. Population – more than 110 thousand people.
  2. Area – 139 km2 .
  3. Language: Danish.
  4. Currency – Danish krona.
  5. Time – UTC +1, in summer +2.
  6. International Airport is located to the north of the city and is connected to it by bus.
  7. Aalborg has regular train connections to Copenhagen, Aarhus, and Odense.
  8. The cheapest supermarkets are Netto, Fakta, Aldi and Rema 1000.
  9. The most popular shopping streets are Algade and Bispensgade.

History

The history of Aalborg begins more than a thousand years ago. As early as the 6th century, at the narrowest point of Lim Fjord, there was a large settlement of Germans, who were replaced by Vikings in the 9th century. The Vikings lived here until the 11th century. The first mention of the city dates back to 1040. At that time it was called Alabu.

Panorama of the city

Panorama of the city

In the Middle Ages Aalborg prospered from trade and was one of the largest and richest cities in Denmark. The city received its first privileges in 1342. In 1516 Aalborg received a monopoly on the herring trade, which further strengthened the city’s position. In 1530, a large part of the city was destroyed by fire, and in December 1534, Aalborg was sacked by the king’s troops in a peasant revolt.

Aalborg

Aalborg

In the 17th – 18th centuries, Aalborg was one of the most prosperous cities in Denmark, second only to Copenhagen. In the 19th century after the strengthening of Sweden, the loss of Norway and the difficulties in herring fishery, the city fell into decline, ceding its status as the center of Jutland to Aarhus. However, in the late 19th century, industry began to develop here and Aalborg became a major producer of tobacco, spirits, fertilizer and cement, as well as Denmark’s second port. In 1940, the city was taken by German paratroopers.

Attractions

Aalborg’s old town is mostly a 15th-century medieval core with squares and dollhouse-like buildings. This neighborhood, full of authentic charm, contains several churches, old half-timbered houses, a colorful shopping street Algade, under which are the well-preserved ruins of an ancient Franciscan monastery and a museum.

A popular spot in Aalborg is also the waterfront, which overlooks the picturesque Lim Fjord, which separates northern Denmark from Jutland. Once upon a time the Vikings moored their barges here, and more recently it was an industrial center with factories and shipyards. Now it’s a popular cultural quarter with modern architecture.

Lindholm

Lindholm

One of Aalborg’s most striking sights is the mysterious Lindholm, which is recognized as Scandinavia’s largest Viking burial ground. The hill is the burial site and living center of a settlement from the Germanic Iron Age to the Viking Age. There are more than 600 ancient graves here, and all the archaeological finds can be viewed in the museum.

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Jens Bang House

Jens Bang House

In the streets of old Aalborg you can see many beautiful old houses. One of the most interesting old buildings is the house of Jens Bang, built in 1624 by a rich merchant in the style of the Dutch Renaissance. Later, for three centuries, this house was occupied by a pharmacy.

Jorgen Olufsen House

Jorgen Olufsen house

Another beautiful building is the house of Jørgen Olufsen, which is considered the best-preserved Renaissance merchant’s house in Denmark. It was built by Olufsen (Jens Bang’s half-brother) in 1616.

Church of St. Budolf

Church of St. Budolf

The most beautiful church of Aalborg is St. Budolf Cathedral, located at the highest point of Aalborg between the main street Algade and the old market (Gammeltorv). It is the smallest cathedral in Denmark, named after an English Benedictine monk, the patron saint of sailors. The oldest parts of the church date from around 1100 and the baroque spire was built in 1779. The altar and pulpit date from the late 17th century. The cathedral has a beautiful and colorful classical interior.

Next to the cathedral of St. Budolf is the monastery of St. Spirit, which is the oldest social institution in Denmark. It was founded in 1431 by the rich townswoman Maren Hemmings and was elevated to a monastery in 1451. Since the time of the Reformation it has been home to a hospital and a school. The monastery is one of the largest and best preserved religious buildings of its kind in Denmark. It has a beautiful historical interior with frescoes from the 16th century.

An interesting attraction is the castle of Aalborghus, the only surviving tax collecting castle in Denmark, built by King Christian III in 1539-1555 as the residence of the local governor. You can also visit the dark underground passages and casemates under the castle.

Our Lady of Sorrows Abbey

Church of Our Lady

The Church of Our Lady is a late 19th-century brick church built on the site of an ancient Benedictine abbey. The exact date of the founding of the monastery is not known, but historians believe that monks lived here as early as the 12th century. The monastery was closed after the Reformation and the old parish church was torn down in 1876.

St. Markus Church

Church of St. Marcus

The Church of St. Marcus is a Gothic Revival style brick church built in the 1930s in a picturesque city park.

Musikkens Hus

Musikkens Hus

Musikkens Hus is a concert hall with excellent acoustics. It is a beacon of modern architecture in Aalborg.

Utzon

Utzon

Utzon is a lively cultural center located on Aalborg’s waterfront. The center was designed by renowned Danish architect Jorn Utzon.

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