Præstø is a port city and former market town in South Zealand with 3,814 inhabitants (2020), located 20 km south of Faxe, 25 km southeast of Næstved and 17 km northeast of Vordingborg. The city belongs to Vordingborg Municipality and is located in Region Zealand.

Præstø belongs to Præstø Parish, and Præstø Church is located in the town. The relatively large church with 2 ships was formerly part of a monastery that belonged to the Order of Antony.



Præstø was built on an island that had a bridge over to Zealand, and did not become landlocked until the beginning of the 19th century. It has been considered uncertain, of which the first part of the name comes, but place name research now believes that it is intended that Præstø until the middle of the 14th century was owned by Skovkloster, the later Herlufsholm Estate in Næstved.

The town has a natural harbor by Præstø Fjord, which is shielded towards Faxe Bay by the elongated peninsula Feddet. Præstø was called by many Hanseatic ships and traded diligently on the Scanian herring market.

The Middle Ages
Præstø is not one of the country's oldest cities. The name first appears in 1353, when Skovkloster - later Herlufsholm - among other things ceded "Præstø with its Fang" to Valdemar Atterdag to be free of hospitality, and in 1403 the town received its first privileges from Erik of Pomerania, confessing to the townspeople in Præstø all the freedoms and privileges that his predecessors had granted the citizens of Roskilde. The town was probably connected to the west with the surrounding land by a wooden bridge, Vesterbro, which lasted until the beginning of the 19th century, when it was replaced by a permanent dam (the western part of Algade, which is built in the new era , bears the name Vesterbro). To the east over the Tubæk river there was only a much later connection; here the crossing took place by boats or carriages, or one passed by large rocks at low tide. Later, a wooden bridge, Østerbro, was built, but it was sold at auction in 1784, and the crossing took place as before until the new dam leading to Skibinge was built in 1819.

The importance of the town in the Middle Ages was only small and was especially associated with Sankt Antonii Kloster, which was located northwest of the church on Klosternakke. Its foundation is due to Christian I, who in 1470 donated the Antonites in Morkjær in Angel "Vor Frue Kirke i Præstø" with associated vicarage so that those who could establish a branch - later the town's vicarage was in Grønnegade, until in 1732 it was sold at auction. It was not until 1474, however, that the church's association with Morkjær was legally recognized. The monastery was strongly dependent on Morkjær; the monks had to pay an annual fee for it in grain and money, and in order to bring it to life as well as to provide for themselves, they went begging in Roskilde and Lunde Stifter. Various gifts of other kinds, however, also flowed to the monastery; Thus, in 1474, Jørgen Gøye considered it in his will with 10 marks, Mrs. Ingerd Bille donated it to a farm in Øllerup in Øster Flakkebjerg Herred, and in 1504 King Hans dedicated Beldringe Church in Bårse Herred to it, after which monks from the monastery served the priesthood here. Markvard Nielsen enlisted in the Brotherhood of the Order in 1476, and so did Anders Bille's wife, Mrs. Pernille Krognos in 1511. At the time of the Reformation, the monastery was very poor; in 1532 it had to "out of necessity" sell a farm in Copenhagen in Lille Pilestræde (Antonistræde), in which the terminating brothers had their abode, and at about the same time sold the estate in Øllerup and elsewhere.

The Renaissance
Around 1536 the monastery was abolished; a few of the monks became evangelical priests. The monastery church became the town's parish church; in 1560 the citizens received 7 of the monastery's stalls, which they were to build and improve, and the land guild thereof was to be used for wine and bread for the parish priest. At the same time, it was allowed to demolish St. Gertrude's Chapel, which was located on the western outskirts of the city and probably originated from the creation of the monastery, and use the material to improve the parish church (possibly the new part of the church dates from this time). In 1563, the sheriff of Jungshoved, Bjørn Kaas, was ordered to have "the desolate monastery in Præstø taken down as close as at the church". 41,000 bricks from there were used at Copenhagen Castle.

The city was not significant at the beginning of the new age. In 1551 it had no school at all; in 1557 the citizens were exempted from paying city tax for the next 3 years "so that they could better get to Næring and improve their City". It also suffered a lot in the Karl Gustav wars of 1658-60. In the 17th century, the city was hit by a storm surge, several large fires and the siege of the Swedes. Svend Gønges Torv and Svend Gønges Vej are named after "Gøngehøvdingen" Svend Poulsen Gønge, who together with his snaps fought against the Swedish soldiers in the Stevns, Præstø and Køge area in 1658-59.


Under the dictatorship

The town's progress was further hampered by raging fires, such as in 1658, 1670, 1711, when 28 farms and houses burned, 1750, when the eastern part, and 1757, when the western part burned. In 1711 it was severely haunted by the plague (brought here by a skipper from Copenhagen on August 20), as 89 people died. In 1672 it had 435 inhabitants, in 1769 the number had dropped to 379. In the 19th century the town prospered considerably, especially by its rather considerable trade in pork and grain. Until 1740, Præstø had a Latin school that had premises in a house in the cemetery; however, it was very insignificant and belonged to those schools which could not graduate from the university. In the 18th century, the town was the garrison site for a squadron of the South Zealand Dragon Regiment, which had a station in the so-called royal barracks on Klosternakke.

The enterprising grocer H.C. Grønvold established a herring altar at the beginning of the 19th century, and he built up a significant grain export. The bridge to Zealand was replaced by a dam, and a new bridge to the southeast over Tubæk was completed in 1819. Grønvold had Præstø Town Hall built in 1823.

The early industrialization
The population of Præstø was increasing at the end of the 19th century, but stagnated at the beginning of the 20th century: 951 in 1850, 1,154 in 1855, 1,298 in 1860, 1,413 in 1870, 1,460 in 1880, 1,500 in 1890, 1,497 in 1901, 1,469 in 1906 and 1,527 in 1911.

In Præstø, a market was held on the 2nd Tuesday of each month with horses, cattle, sheep and pigs.

In 1855, there were several distilleries, iron foundries, cotton weaving and shipbuilding of factories and industrial plants. In 1872 there was also a tobacco factory, two tanneries and a printing house. Around the year 1900, there was Antonii Bavarian and White Beer Brewery, steam, sawmill and planing mill and steam distillery as well as an iron foundry and machine factory with about 35 workers.

A newspaper was published in Præstø: "Præstø Folkeblad".

By industry, the population of the city in 1890 was divided into the following groups, comprising both dependents and dependents: 189 lived by intangible enterprise, 617 by trade and industry, 358 by trade and commerce, 52 by shipping, 32 by fishing, 54 by agriculture, 4 by horticulture, while 125 were distributed to other occupations, 51 lived on their means, 14 enjoyed alms, and 4 were in prison. In rural areas the distribution was the same year: 13 lived by intangible activity, 51 by agriculture, 2 by horticulture, 3 by shipping, 30 by craft and industry, 9 by trade, 4 by other occupations, and 2 enjoyed alms. According to a 1906 census, the population was 1,469, of which 153 subsisted on intangible activities, 63 on agriculture, forestry and dairy farming, 28 on fishing, 583 on crafts and industry, 379 on trade and more, 156 on transport, 59 were retired people, 32 lived by public support and 16 by other or unspecified business.

When the town's former school became too small, the school building at Klosternakken 4 was built in 1895. The building was expanded with the 1st and 2nd floors in 1904 and housed Præstø Folk, Middle and Real School for many years.

Præstø got a terminus at Præstø-Næstved Jernbane, which was opened in 1900 and was called Præstøbanen. The station was only 150 m from the harbor, and in 1909 a harbor railway was built, whereby Præstø partly became a harbor town for Næstved. In 1913, the line was extended to Mern and changed its name to Næstved-Præstø-Mern Banen. It was now called Mernbanen, but still had its head office and workshops in Præstø.

In 1919, Præstø Police District was established. It existed until 1973.

The interwar period
During the interwar period, Præstø's population was almost stagnant: in 1921 1,470, in 1925 1,539, in 1930 1,442, in 1935 1,401, in 1940 1,425 inhabitants. But at the same time there was a growth in the suburb of Nysøhuse in Præstø Rural District and in Skibinge Horse Garden in Skibinge Parish, where a number of people settled with work in Præstø.