Skælskør (also: Skjelskør) is an older market town with 6,455 inhabitants (2020), located in southwest Zealand almost halfway between Næstved and Korsør. The city is located in Slagelse Municipality and belongs to Region Zealand.

Skælskør is first mentioned in 1231, in King Valdemar's Land Register, as Skælfiskør which means "the town by the mussel beach". Therefore, since the end of the 16th century, a mussel has been included in the city seal and since the city coat of arms.

Among the city's and the surrounding area's most well-known industries are e.g. Viminco, Harboe Brewery and the food company Bähncke.


The Middle Ages
Skælskør, in King Valdemar's Land Register called Skiælfiskør and Skelfiskør (by Skjelfisk = mussel), is an old town and has been quite considerable in the Middle Ages; it has thus stretched over a much larger area than now, especially to the west, namely to the so-called "Helledegrøft", which must originate from Henrik Emeltorp's fortification. On the other hand, it has recently been extended to the east, where the former, 1806 burnt village Smidstrup was located. In the market town list in King Valdemar's Land Register, the town is employed for a tax of 13 marks of silver and must thus be assumed in size to have stood between Vordingborg and Ringsted. The town belonged to Valdemar Sejr's family property, and at the change after him it was outsourced to Erik Plovpenning. When Christoffer I seized the throne after King Abel's death, he found opposition from several sides, and among other things he was fought by a German knight Henrik Emeltorp, who occupied Skælskør and built a castle here in 1253 and fortified the city. Christoffer attacked him here, but was for the first time thoroughly repulsed; later, however, the alien adventurer had to give up both castle and town, which must have suffered much during these hostilities. In the spring of 1288, when Danehof was held in Skælskør, Duke Valdemar of Southern Jutland had taken up residence in the town. He had many enemies in the vicinity of the young King Erik Menved, and Drost Peder Hoseøl made a bold attempt to seize the Duke's person; to Sønderborg; also widow queen Agnes fell into the hands of the enemies, but escaped by cunning. Later that year, Skælskør, as revenge for the attack, was looted by the Norwegians and the outlaws, on which occasion the town was almost completely destroyed and the then royal court, "Hovgaarden", which must have been just west of the cemetery, where it later rectory lay (1841 at its construction foundations of old buildings were found), burned. In 1300, Erik Menved held a peace meeting in Skælskør with the Norwegian king Hakon. When Erik Menved's brother-in-law, the Swedish king Birger Magnussen, had to flee to Denmark, Christoffer II granted him, as the contemporary Erik chronicle tells, with two lords and a farm at Skælskør, and "that farm was called Spikeborg", it is said. Shortly after King Birger's death in 1321, another Swedish prince, namely Birger's cousin Erik Valdemarsøn, claimed Skælskør, claiming that both this town and many other estates belonged to him as the son of Sophie, Erik Plovpenning's daughter, Valdemar Birgersøn's queen. When Duke Valdemar was king, these estates were also granted to him in 1327, but whether he really got them and thus Skælskør in possession, is not known. Later, Skælskør must have been granted to the Axelsønnerne or Thotters, among others, until it came under the crown again in the middle of the 15th century. It is not known with certainty when the city received its first township rights, but there is a copy of the rights from 1441. The oldest preserved confirmation is from October 25, 1483, issued by King Hans.

From the above it can be concluded that Skælskør in the Middle Ages has been a fairly respected town. It was often visited by the kings, if for no other reason, then because in those days it was the main crossing point for Funen. Also, the fact that it has had two monasteries testifies to its significance in Catholic times.


Very little is known about the location and history of these monasteries. The Carmelite or Our Lady's Monastery, which Erik of Pomerania founded in 1418, must have been located in the eastern part of the city to the south, where the square "Marie Kirkegaard" still resembles it. Little is known about it other than that in 1503, 1505, 1509 and 1514 in wills it was considered with gifts that a brother Oluf was prior here in 1464, and that the priority was last held by one of the more famous men of the Reformation, Associate Professor Mourids Samsing, who later became parish priest in Tjæreby. In 1532, the monks "because of their great poverty" left the monastery and handed it over to Frederik I, who donated all the buildings to the sheriff of Borreby, Johan Urne, with the exception of the church, which was designated as a parish church for Skælskør. But during the Count's Feud, Count Christoffer in 1534 gave the monastery to the citizens of the town, in whose possession it seems to have remained until its demolition, which took place from time to time after 1550. After a somewhat uncertain account, Johan Friis has obtained materials from the monastery for the main building on Borreby. At about the same time, the monastery church also disappeared, as it is undoubtedly to the accused, partly in Christian III's letter of 1552, after which the citizens of Skælskør had to demolish one half of the "monastery church" and use the materials to improve their parish church and town hall. the other half was to be used for construction work at Nyborg Castle, partly in the same king's letter of 1557, when the citizens of the town were allowed to break stones from "the old church for use in improving the school", and Frederik II's letter of 1562, which allowed the citizens to take bricks and lime in the same church against clearing the square and using the gravel to improve the plain roads outside the city. The church's original altarpiece is perhaps the richly carved one that was later used in Boeslunde Church. The second monastery, a Sortebrødrekloster, is really only known from Frederik II's letter of 1570, which gave the city the place where the monastery had stood. It can hardly have been founded until after 1300 and may have had its place on Algade. It has been assumed that the monks referred to the town's church, and that the choir chairs in it are a reminder of this.

Around 1525, a kikelade was erected next to St. Nicolai Church. After 1537 it was converted into a Latin school, and the Old Latin School still stands.

The town had suffered much during the medieval wars; also The Black Death had ravaged it (a quantity of corpses, which in 1843 was found in the eastern part of the town in Algade, could perhaps be attributed to this epidemic), and it had declined greatly. But by the end of the Middle Ages, it seems to have risen somewhat again, especially with considerable trade in grain and German beer. In 1488, the town was granted duty-free access throughout Denmark except Skanør, at the same time agriculture increased partly by cultivating the lands that had been laid waste during the medieval wars, and partly by clearing the forests with which the town was then surrounded.

The Renaissance
The significant benefits in the Seven Years' War indicate that it has been quite wealthy (in 1565, like Korsør and Slagelse, it provided 400 rigsdaler, although the citizens had been reduced due to a city fire), and by the princess tax in 1596 Christian IV's sister, Princess Augusta's attachments with Duke Johan Adolf of Gottorp employed Skælskør to 100 rigsdaler, while of Zealand cities only Copenhagen, Helsingør and Næstved had employees higher. The wars of the 17th century, however, again brought the city to a standstill, especially the Karl Gustav wars of 1658-60, which weighed heavily on its war contributions and accommodation, and it soon had to give way to neighboring towns.

Under the dictatorship
By the ordinance on the market towns of 28 January 1682, Korsør and Næstved were granted the right to foreign trade, while the same right was denied to Skælskør, which by the ordinance is mentioned among the market towns which may only have one town bailiff and no magistrate. In 1672 the town had 617 inhabitants, in 1769 589 inhabitants and in 1801 567 inhabitants. The town developed into an important trading post for Southwest Zealand with lively shipping and home to several large grocery farms. In the 19th century, several enterprising craftsmen and merchants came to Skælskør and they greatly influenced the town.

The early industrialization
It did not begin to grow until the middle of the 19th century, probably due to a deepening of the fjord and the improvements at the harbor, while the railway connection probably hardly gained much importance.