Kattesundet Street and Vor Frue Church

Coat of arms

Location in the Region of Southern Denmark

Coordinates: 55°3′34″N 10°36′30″E / 55.05944°N 10.60833°E / 55.05944; 10.60833Coordinates: 55°3′34″N 10°36′30″E / 55.05944°N 10.60833°E / 55.05944; 10.60833
Country Denmark
Region Southern Denmark
Municipality Svendborg
Population (2014)
  Total 26,672
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Svendborg (Danish pronunciation: [ˈsʋɛnb̥ɒːˀ]) is a town on the island of Funen in south-central Denmark, and the seat of Svendborg Municipality. With a population of 26,672 (1 January 2014), Svendborg is Funen's second largest city.[1] In 2000 Svendborg was declared "Town of the year" in Denmark, and in 2003 it celebrated its 750th anniversary as a market town. By road, Svendborg is located 195 kilometres (121 mi) southwest of Copenhagen, 183 kilometres (114 mi) south of Aarhus, 44.2 kilometres (27.5 mi) south of Odense, and 28.5 kilometres (17.7 mi) south-southeast of Faaborg.

Svendborg is home to the “Naturama” museum, which holds a wide variety of stuffed animals from birds to bears. The largest container ship company in the world, A.P. Møller-Mærsk has its origins in Svendborg, in the "Villa Anna".


Anne Hvides Gaard (c. 1560) is Svendborg's oldest residential building, now Svendborg Museum

Early history

In the light of archaeological discoveries, Svendborg appears to have been established in the first half of the 12th century or even earlier.[2] Located at the head of a bay, the natural harbour encouraged seafaring and trade.[3]

The first recorded mention of Svendborg occurred in 1229 in a deed of gift by Valdemar the Victorious, where he refers to the fortification as Swinæburgh.[4] The name is thought to consist of the elements "svin" meaning "pig" and "borg" meaning "fortification".[2] In 1236, the Greyfriars monastery in Svendborg was established. The Greyfriars would be part of the city for the next 300 years, until the Protestant reformation in 1536.[5] The ruins of the monastery were partly excavated beside the railway in 2007.[6]

Middle Ages

Svendborg Theatre
Svendborgsund Bridge

In 1253, the city was granted market town privileges by King Christopher I.[7] In the Middle Ages, the city was fortified with walls and moats. The defense system also included a few of forts. Most historical facts about the medieval defense system, including the locations of fortifications, are disputed, as little archaeological evidence has been generated. In spite of this, it is a popular theory that the three towers in the coat of arms are the three fortifications ("Skattertårnet", "Kyseborg" and a third one unnamed).[8] Thanks to its seafarers, in the late Middle Ages Svendborg became one of the most important trading centres in Scandinavia.[9]

16th and 17th centuries

During the time of the Protestant reformation and the Count's Feud in the 1530s, the citizens of Svendborg joined forces with the King. Ørkild Castle, located just east of Svendborg, was property of the bishop of Odense, who was less than popular among the citizens of the city. The tension resulted in the castle being seized and burned down by an angry mob in collaboration with the King's forces. The King's forces would later, after ending their north-going campaign on Funen, return to pillage and plunder Svendborg.[10]

After 1536, Svendborg went through a brief period of progress becoming the islands main port. But it would not last for long. In the following 250 years, the city faced various setbacks in its development, such as plague, a major fire, and the effects of the Swedish wars when Svendborg's ships were destroyed.[3]

Industrial development

It was not until the end of the war with England and the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century that the city returned to a period of increasing prosperity. The population grew from a mere 1,942 people in 1801 to more than 11,500 in 1901. This development was followed by improvement of the infrastructure, such as rail links with Odense, Faaborg and Nyborg, improvement of the local roads and the establishment of a real harbour suited for extensive trading, since goods could now easily be transported there. In the middle of the 19th century an explosion of industrialization happened, and all kinds of factories, from engineering to breweries were established together with modern gas and water systems.[3]

In the late 19th century, with industry well established, it was necessary to accommodate the growing population. This led to numerous new schools being founded. Furthermore, a hospital was established in 1871 and expanded in 1891.[11]

20th century to present

Svendborg Harbour

The rapid increase in population continued at the beginning of the 20th century as Svendborg developed into an even more important industrial and educational centre. The food and metallurgy sectors became well established. The port prospered with new facilities, including shipyards such as Svendborg Skipsværft which was established in 1907 on an artificial island. On the educational front, a number of maritime and navigational schools were established. The shipyard, which had employed up to 800 in the 1980s finally closed in 2001, some of the facilities being taken over by Vestas. In recent years, there has been a marked transition from industry into the service sector, the hospital now being one of the principal employers. Tourism has also prospered, especially for those arriving in pleasure boats.[3]

The German writer Bertolt Brecht spent the first years of his exile from Nazi Germany in Svendborg. The town provided the title of a collection of Brecht's poems "Svendborger Gedichte" (Svendborg Poems).


Panorama of the coast of Svendborg

Svendborg lies on the south coast of Funen. By road, Svendborg is located 195 kilometres (121 mi) southwest of Copenhagen, 44.2 kilometres (27.5 mi) south of Odense, 85.8 kilometres (53.3 mi) southeast of Middelfart, and 28.5 kilometres (17.7 mi) south-southeast of Faaborg.[12] The Port of Svendborg is accessed by several channels, feeding through the islands of Tåsinge and Thurø. Svendborg Sund approaches the town from the southwest, along which ferries coming from Ærøskøbing pass the smaller islands of Drejø, Hjortø, and Skarø.[12] Between Tåsinge and Thurø is Thurø Sund, which passes Bregninge forest (Bregninge Skov) on the northeast coast of Tåsinge, approaching the port of Svendborg from the south. From the east, between mainland Funen and the island of Thurø, is the narrow Skårupøre Sund.[12]

To the west of Svendborg are several lakes, including Sørup Lake (Sørup Sø), 3.8 kilometres (2.4 mi) northwest of the centre, and Hvidkilde Lake (Hvidkilde Sø), 5.8 kilometres (3.6 mi) northwest of the centre of Svendborg.[12] Several forested areas lie to the north-northwest of Svendborg, including Græsholmene, Løvehave, and Ravnebjerg Skov.[12]


The largest container ship company in the world, A.P. Møller-Mærsk has its origins in Svendborg, in the "Villa Anna".[13] The company remained in the hands of Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller until his death in 2012 at the age of 98.[14]

The Mac Baren tobacco factory was established in Svendborg in 1887,[15] under the name Harald Halberg Tobaks and Cigarfabrik.[16] The company was renamed the Mac Baren Tobacco Company in 1995.[15][16] The company employs 140 people, and exports tobacco products to 70 countries.[17]


Vor Frue Kirke

Vor Frue Kirke (Church of Our Lady) located on a hill north of the market square was established in the 13th century but was enlarged in the late Middle Ages with a Gothic chancel, transepts and tower. A spire was added in 1768. The oldest section is the red-brick, Romanesque nave. Today the church reflects the comprehensive restoration work undertaken by Ove Petersen in 1884. The altar, pulpit and other artefacts date from the 17th century.[18][19]


Anne Hvide's House (Anne Hvides Gård), a two-storey, half-timbered building, is one of Svendborg's oldest houses. Anne Hvide, a widow of noble descent, had it built in 1560. It was used as an inn from 1837 to 1867. After being restored, it became the town museum in 1916. It still belongs to Svenborg Museum who use it for exhibitions on the history of Svendborg during the summer months.[20]

Naturama, established in April 2005, is a natural history museum enhanced by means of various technological support features including light and sound, film, and expedition scenarios. It has a large collection of stuffed animals and birds in natural surroundings.[21][22] A recent addition has been an exhibition depicting the world of spiders.[23]

Svendborg contains a branch of the Odense University Hospital, Odense Universitetshospital - Svendborg Sygehus. It also contains the Svendborg Museum.

Attractions close to Svendborg include Egeskov, the best preserved Renaissance water castle in Europe,[24] Valdemar's Castle on the nearby island of Tåsinge,[25] and Hesselagergård, a historic manor to the north of Svendborg.[26]


A branch of University College Lillebaelt (Danish: University College Lillebælt) can be found in Svendborg. Svendborg is also the home of Svendborg Gymnasium which is one of the larger upper secondary schools in Denmark with more than 1,000 students and around 100 teachers. Furthermore, it also has Svendborg Erhvervsskole, which is the largest educational institute in Southern Funen.


  1. BEF44: Population 1st January, by urban areas database from Statistics Denmark
  2. 1 2 "Kirkerne i Svendborg" (PDF) (in Danish). Danske Kirker: Nationalmuseet. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Svendborg" (in Danish). Dansk Center for Byhistorie. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  4. "Om Svendborg" (in Danish). Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  5. "Klosterkirken i Svendborg" (in Danish). Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  6. "Klosterruin i Svendborg skal kunne bevares" (in Danish). Banedanmark. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  7. "Svendborgs første tid" (in Danish). Svendborg Historie. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  8. "Skattertårnet" (in Danish). Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  9. "Allerede i 1200-tallet var Svendborg et betydeligt bysamfund, vokset op i ly af den beskyttede naturhavn, en lille bugt, der på det smalleste sted i Svendborgsund skærer sig ind i Fyn". Visit Svendborg. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  10. "Krig og fred: Svendborg lokalhistorie" (in Danish). Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  11. "Svendborgs historie" (in Danish). Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 Google (14 July 2014). "Svendborg" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  13. Søren Bitsch Christensen. "Skibsrederen satte dampen op mod succes" (in Danish). Kulturarv. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  14. "A.P. Møller - Mærsk" (in Danish). Den Store Danske. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  15. 1 2 "BogFeature - Tobak til tiden: Mac Baren – en virksomhed i Svendborg" (in Danish).
  16. 1 2 "Tobacco Renaissance". Pipes and Tobacco Magazine.
  17. "About Mac Baren".
  18. "Vor Frue Kirke" (in Danish). Den Store Danske. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  19. "Kirkens historie" (in Danish). Vor Frue Kirke, Svendborg. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  20. "Anne Hvides Gård" (in Danish). Den Store Danske. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  21. "Welcome to Naturama". Naturama. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  22. "Naturama" (in Danish). Svendborg Historie. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  23. Karl Edvard Hansen (22 January 2014). "Naturama åbner med ny, stor særudstilling". Uge Avisen Svendborg. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  24. "Egeskov" (in Danish). Den Store Danske. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  25. "Valdemars Slot" (in Danish). Den Store Danske. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  26. "Hesselagergård" (in Danish). Den Store Danske. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
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