Holbæk is a town in Northwest Zealand approx. 60 km from Copenhagen. With its 28,833 inhabitants (2020), it is Northwest Zealand's largest city. The city is the capital of Holbæk Municipality and belongs to Region Zealand. Holbæk grew up around the former Holbæk Castle, which was founded in 1236 by Valdemar Sejr, and the town was granted township rights in 1286. There are two theories about the name: Either it is a paraphrase of "Den hule bæk", referring to the brook there in the Middle Ages ran through the city, or else it is "The Sacred Stream". West of the harbor is the outlet of a small stream called Hulbæk.

Holbæk has traffic connections to Copenhagen and Roskilde via motorway and railway, which is why a large part of the city's business people are employed outside the municipality. The city's catchment area includes in Odsherred, to which there is also a railway, the Odsherredsbanen, with terminals in Holbæk and Nykøbing Sjælland. Until the beginning of the 1960s, Holbæk's extent south of the railway was severely limited, but expansion of both homes and businesses has stretched the city across the southern fields. Since the 1980s, Holbæk has been one of the fastest growing major cities in Denmark, and the city was among the five fastest growing in the 2000s.


Holbæk is believed to have originated from two small towns that lay by and were named after the two streams Holbæk and Labæk. The first west, the second east of the ridge on which the city lies. Labæk must have been the most significant, but eventually it disappeared and went all the way up to the other, Holbæk, when a larger farm and later a fortified castle had emerged here. Holbæk is first mentioned in 1199 in a gift letter from Bishop Absalon, in which he gives Sorø Kloster the farm (curiam) Holbæk with the belonging to the four small towns Metheløse (Merløse), Grubethorp (Krojerup in Sønder Jernløse Parish), Thostethorp (Tostrup in Merløse Parish ) and Ulfsthorp (a later disappeared village, which was in Aagerup or Tølløse Parish, and which is still mentioned in 1370). Sorø Kloster has soon sold the farm to Ringsted Kloster, because in 1231 the abbot in this monastery sold a large piece of land here to Valdemar Sejr, who must have built and fortified Holbæk Castle west of the town (by Strandporten), where the beach probably originally went completely into its ramparts. From that time, Holbæk's significance as a city really begins.

The Middle Ages
In the process between Christoffer I and Archbishop Jakob Erlandsen, the archbishop complains that the citizens of Holbæk have killed Asser the priest, dragged him through the city to the town hall and buried him in pagan land, without mentioning the reason for this conduct. In the second half of the 13th century, the town got a Sortebrødrekloster, and in 1286 Erik Menved must have given Holbæk a city court, which was renewed and expanded in 1549 and many times has been confirmed, thus 1443, when the town also got duty free everywhere in Denmark except on Skanør, Falsterbo and other herring farms in the autumn, 1454, 1502 and 1506, 1534 by Count Christoffer in the Count's Feud, 1562, 1598, 1648, 1672, 1714, 1737 and 1746.

The Black Brothers Monastery was founded in 1269 or rather 1275; In 1276, the Bishop of Roskilde, Peder Bang, inaugurated the monastery's cemetery. In 1287, the monastery burned down together with the town, and when the royal assassins ravaged Holbæk in 1229, the monastery probably did not go free either. In 1323, Christoffer II had the monastery church built, presumably after a fire, and the same year it was consecrated by the Bishop of Børglumb. In 1456, Queen Dorothea donated a large sum of money to the monks to read masses over her, and in wills they were sometimes given gifts. Nevertheless, by the Reformation, they were so poor that in 1535 they had to leave the monastery and leave it with the consent of Count Christoffer to the city. Shortly afterwards, Christian III probably took possession of it with the intention of using it to improve Holbæk Castle, but in 1536 it came back into the possession of the citizens. It was a complex of three (maybe 4), at right angles adjacent wing. In the west wing, after the Reformation, the town's Latin school had premises until its abolition in 1740, and here also lived the principal (the penultimate principal was Torkil Baden, died 1732); after which the Danish school got a place here. The church, which formed the north wing, was demolished in 1869. If the monastery yard was originally also closed to the east, the wing here must have disappeared early, as it is not on the town plan in Resens Atlas 1670. To Holbæk probably belonged a Sankt Jørgensgård for lepers.

In addition to the monastery church, Holbæk had its own parish church, dedicated to Saint Nicholas. It must have stood on the south side of Algaden (the corner of Nygade) on the site of the county farmhouse at the beginning of the 19th century (it was parceled out in 1846, and its large, beautiful garden provided some space for a large steam distillery), and by excavation in the surrounding terrain, especially north of the street, a quantity of human bones has been found, a proof that the cemetery has been rather large. After the Reformation, the church stood desolate and gradually fell into disrepair, which is why Frederik II in 1573 donated both it and the square on which it stood, to the sheriff of Holbæk Castle, Christoffer v. Festenberg (Pax) with permission to demolish it and use the material, as he himself would. In its place, the monastery church became the town's parish church.

Holbæk had been haunted by fire several times, including 1513 (and probably also 1560, when the citizens were ordered to replace the thatched roofs with tiled roofs).

The Renaissance
About Holbæk informs Arent Berntsen in Danmarckis oc Norgis Fructbar Herlighet fra 1655: "Holbeck Slots Lehn hvorudi er kun Tuze-Herrit allene oc den Kiøbstad Holbeck, liggendes 7 Mile West-Norwest fra Kiøbenhafn, til vilcken Isefiord, fra den Norder Ende af Landet, 3 Mile opløber oc der til giør god Indseigling saa at ofte mange store Skibs Ladinger aff Korn oc andet, der fra til Holland, Norge, Tyskland oc omlige Stæder, udføris. say there the bourgeoisie, of surrounding manors and peasants, large lots of grain, which they ship out, and again introduce other coarse goods, of salt, iron, bumblebee, etc. Whereupon they also have a good outlet, so that at the same place it gives some prosperous inhabitants . "


The decline of the city began with the Karl Gustav Wars of 1658–60, when the castle was destroyed and when the city suffered from the ravages of the enemy, and it soon sank down to be an insignificant city.

Under the crown
In 1672 the market town had 879 inhabitants, in 1769 1,211 and 1787 1,159 inhabitants. In the years 1719–88, not a single new building was erected, and in Pontoppidan's Danish Atlas it is stated in 1774: "The town's trade and industry have been unbelievably declining in 40 years, so that the town's inhabitants are for the most part very impoverished and poor". It was not until the end of the 18th century that the city began to gain strength during the general upsurge in the country's trade conditions, and by major measures in the 19th century, in particular the construction of the Harbor, it progressed steadily.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Holbæk had from time to time a garrison, mostly of cavalry squadrons. Also in the 19th century it was a garrison town.

The early industrialization
Holbæk had 6 markets annually, 2 in March and 1 in April (horses and cattle), 1 in June (horses, cattle and forest animals), 1 in October (cattle) and 1 in November (cattle).

Of factories and industrial plants, the town had around the middle of the 19th century: 7 spirits distilleries, 1 tobacco factory, 1 iron and metal foundry, 1 beer brewery, 2 cotton weaving mills, 3 dyeing mills, 5 tanneries, 2 pottery, 1 book printing plant. In addition, 3 wind turbines and 1 horse mill. Of factories and industries, the town had in 1872: 6 spirits distilleries, 2 tobacco factories, 1 lime distillery, 2 wool spinning mills, 2 iron and metal foundries, 3 beer breweries, 3 cotton weaving mills, 3 dye mills, 6 tanneries, 2 pottery, 2 letterpress mills and 1 windmill. horse mill and 1 shipbuilding. Of factories and industrial plants, the town had around the turn of the century: 3 tobacco factories, 1 wool spinning mill, 2 iron and metal foundries, 2 beer breweries, one of which also brewed Bavarian beer, 2 cotton weaving mills, 3 dye mills, 5 book printing mills, 2 weather mills, 1 steam mill, 1 duck mill. , which, however, was located in the adjoining rural parish, 1 fruit factory and more.

In Holbæk, 3 newspapers were published: Holbæk Amts Avis, Holbækposten and Holbæk Amts Dagblad, as well as the weekly magazine Skytteridende.

Holbæk's population was increasing at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century: 2,638 in 1850, 2,811 in 1855, 2,971 in 1860, 2931 in 1870, 3,265 in 1880, 3,915 in 1890, 4,574 in 1901, 5,269 in 1906 and 5,915 in 1911.

By industry, the population in 1890 was divided into the following groups, comprising both breadwinners and dependents: 408 lived by intangible activity, 1,571 by trade and industry, 813 by trade and commerce, 50 by shipping, 87 by fishing, 178 by agriculture, 34 by horticulture, while 624 were distributed to other occupations, 82 lived on their means, 54 enjoyed alms, and 14 were in prison. According to a 1906 census, the population was 5,269, of which 355 subsisted on intangible activities, 258 on agriculture, forestry and dairy farming, 161 on fishing, 2,755 on crafts and industry, 1,160 on trade and more, 267 on transportation, 191 were retired, 110 lived by public support and 12 by other or unspecified business.

The interwar period
During the interwar period, Holbæk's population was growing: in 1921 11,198, in 1925 11,831, in 1930 12,473, in 1935 12,493, in 1940 12,790 inhabitants. But at the same time there was a growth in the suburbs in Butterup-Tuse Municipality, where a number of people settled and worked in Holbæk.

At the census in 1930, Holbæk had 12,473 inhabitants, of which 1,259 subsisted on intangible activities, 4,851 on crafts and industry, 2,113 on trade, etc., 1,104 on transport, 730 on agriculture, forestry and fishing, 865 on handicrafts, 1,428 were out of business and 123 had not stated source of income.

The post-war period
After World War II, Holbæk continued its population growth. In 1945 there were 13,467 inhabitants in the market town, in 1950 14,417 inhabitants, in 1955 15,153 inhabitants, in 1960 15,475 inhabitants and in 1965 16,445 inhabitants. In Butterup-Tuse Municipality, a new suburb, Allerupgård residential area, grew up and in Sdr. Asmindrup-Grandløse Municipality the suburb of Lille Grandløse.

The urban development resulted in the establishment of an urban development committee, which prepared an urban development plan for the Holbæk area comprising both the market town, the suburban municipality and several rural municipalities.

Recent times
Holbæk Municipality was formed after the municipal reform in 2007 and consists of the former municipalities Holbæk (1970-2006: 159.47 km²), Jernløse, Svinninge, Tornved and Tølløse. The current municipality covers an area of ​​578.70 km².

Holbæk's development has in recent years gone from industry to business, which is why, among other things, the former industrial port has been transformed into a modern, urban district with office businesses and attractive multi-storey homes. In addition, the former barracks plot and other green areas have been used for development. In 2004, the municipality refused to have a new East Danish prison in the city.


The city has three large areas of social housing: Ladegårdsparken, Engvang and Bjergmarken, where there has been a large concentration of refugees and immigrants.

In recent years, there have been and still are several large construction projects in Holbæk. Among these projects are the upcoming, green district Holbæk Have, urban development at Jernstøberiet, the city's new arena Holbæk Sportsby and AP Pensions Holbæk Fjordtårn - a 17-storey high-rise building with homes on the harbor.

Holbæk Sportsby is a project that has been created in collaboration between the city's sports associations and Holbæk Municipality. Virtually all of the city's sports facilities have been gathered in a new sports city, which has been built as a bare field project by Omfartsvejen south of Holbæk. Construction began in September 2016, and the sports city was inaugurated on 21 June 2019. The area contains i.a. swimming center, multi-purpose hall, tennis hall, badminton hall, squash courts, health center, fitness center, football stadium, café and a large number of outdoor facilities for e.g. tennis, paddle tennis, athletics, mountain biking and the like. The plan is to develop a completely new district with housing construction in the area around the sports city. Holbæk Sportsby has been named Sports Construction of the Year 2020.

At the Port of Holbæk, AP Pension has built a 17-storey high-rise building (55 meters) with 60 homes, which was completed in December 2019. Holbæk Fjord Tower, as the high-rise is called, was designed by Juul-Frost Architects and is the tallest residential property in Region Zealand.

Another significant construction project in Holbæk town is on the former slaughterhouse site on Vølundsvej, where the construction of 243 public housing in three stages is underway. The homes have different sizes and consist primarily of multi-storey buildings in four to five floors.

The former sports areas in Holbæk Have, whose function has now been moved to Holbæk Sportsby, have been acquired by FB Gruppen A / S and PKA, which from 2021-2031 will build a new district with approx. 1,000 new, mixed housing and green, recreational common areas. The new buildings will consist of semi-detached houses, terraced houses and multi-storey buildings of up to six storeys. The total investment will be approx. 2.5 billion DKK, and thus it will be one of the largest investments in Holbæk Municipality ever.

In the easternmost part of Holbæk Have, Midtsjællands Boligselskab is constructing 96 public housing units from two to 10 storeys on the plot that previously housed Brunhøjskolen.

The former iron foundry site on Lundemarksvej in central Holbæk will be developed from 2021-2025 into a modern residential area with terraced houses, senior housing community, multi-storey buildings and point houses with up to eight floors.