Anette Junge Daugaard, VISITHORSENS1/8
Poul Guldhammer Bendixen, VISITHORSENS4/8
Europæisk Middelalder Festival, VISITHORSENS8/8
In the eastern part of the city centre, archeologists have discovered traces of a small settlement or landing site, dating all the way back to the year 800. This is the very foundation from which the city of Horsens eventually grew, making Horsens one of very oldest cities in Denmark. Unfortunately, no traces of the settlement is visible, above groundtoday.
During this century, the first church in Horsens was built and dedicated to St. Mary, or Our Lady. It was situated east of the little village, in what is now known as the Stjernholmsgade district. The church is no longer visible.
The name Horsens appears for the first time, as it was stamped onto coins made here, and it also appears on an Arabian map of the area. During this century, settlements had spread out to the west, and the city had begun to grow.
Before 1225, the Danish King built a large brick chapel on the place, which is currently known as Torvet. The building was consecrated to Saint Ib (the Danish name for Saint Jacob). Originally, the church had two towers. When the church, in 1794 became a parish church, it was named Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of Our Saviour). The baroque pulpit, which was made by the local wood carver Peder Jensen Kolding, was originally placed in Klosterkirken, but in 1797, it was moved to Vor Frelsers Kirke. Klosterkirken is the last remnant of a Franciscan monastery, which was founded in 1261. The monastery was closed down in 1532, but the church continued to be used as a parish church until 1794. The church is full of tombs and memorials over the wealthiest and most powerful citizens from the 17 - 18th centuries, and it is decorated with medieval chancels and altarpiece. South of the church were the monastery buildings. Since 1904, this church has become a parish church once again.
The current layout of the city centre, with Søndergade and Nørregade was established and the city was secured with fortifications. West of the city, King Erik Menved built a moat castle Bygholm. Remnants of this castle can still be seen. At Saint Mary’s Church, a monastery for the order of Saint John was established in 1351 and closed after the Reformation. There are no visible remnants of this monastery.
During this century, the city was characterised by gable houses, i.e. houses which were built with the gables facing the street. A row of these timberframed houses have been preserved on the north side of Søndergade, but they can only be seen by entering the courtyards, as the facades have been modernised over the years. Following the Reformation, the city’s monasteries and some of the churches were closed down. Over time, the moats disappeared as well, freeing space for the city to expand.
During this century, the city was almost constantly plagued by wars, and many buildings were destroyed. In 1631 Anna Svane established the oldest home for widows in Horsens, which can be seen from the street Fugholm. In 1681, the famous explorer Vitus Bering was born in Horsens. He served on warships in the Russian navy and later commanded two important expeditions to Siberia and the Pacific Ocean. He mapped the area and discovered that Asia and America were separated by the narrow strait which was named after him. He stranded on a deserted island with his ship and died there in 1741. Vitus Bering is commemorated on a plaque in Jessensgade and in an exhibition at Horsens Museum dedicated to his life and achievements.
After the 1720s the city enjoyed a period of wealth and prosperity, with extensive building activity. Many of the houses and courtyards from the period are still in use, especially in Søndergade and Nørregade. They were primarily used as homes and for trading by wealthy merchants, property owners and public servants. There were many of them living in Horsens, especially in the later half of the century. One of the oldest period buildings is Søndergade 12, built in 1736. It is still used for its original purpose as a pharmacy.
Søndergade 17 was built for one of the richest merchants, Gerhdt de Lichtenberg. Many of the gable houses on Søndergade were rebuilt during the later part of the 18th century and some mansions, for instance Søndergade 15, were completely new. Søndergade is one of the prettiest urban spaces from this particular period, and at this time the western part of Søndergade grew to its present size, becoming one of the widest streets in Northern Europe. Several period houses on the north side of Nørregade are also well preserved. Nørregade 31 was a home for widows from 1786-1960. From 1780-1807, members of the Russian Royal family lived in exile in a now lost mansion on Torvet.
During the later part of the century, the city expanded and the number of citizens increased almost tenfold. The growth was mainly seen in new neighbourhoods south, east and west of the city centre. There was work in the many new industries (metal, textiles, soap, woodware, printing, tobacco and breweries) establshed in the town. The railway to Horsens was built in 1868.
The first iron foundry in Jutland opened here in 1830 and the world‘s first pig slaughterhouse began operating in 1887. Horsens correctional facility, FÆNGSLET, the buildings house the newest cultural institution in town, with music venues and the prison museum. Lunden, the large city park, was established in 1840.
At the beginning of the century Horsens was flush with prosperity and growth, and took pride in the opeing of Horsens Museum in 1906 and Horsens Theatre in 1909. Both institutions were subsequently expanded over the years. Now known as Horsens New Theatre, the theatre is also a successful music venue. In 1929 a new stretch of railway made transport easier, with a new station, which is still in use. Between 1930 and 1970 Horsens, like many other provincial towns, suffered financially during the recession and economic downturns, and new establishments were smaller in scale. The open air theatre in Lunden, which today is home to smaller, intimate concerts, opened in 1949 and the Bering Park with the Bering Memorial opened in 1957.
In the 1970s the economy in Horsens started to improve. In 1977 Denmark’s Industrial Museum opened, followed in 1984 by Horsens Art Museum, and in 1986 the City Archive opened its doors for the first time. During the next couple of decades, there were many renovations and improvements in the city centre and suburbs.
In these years Horsens has made a name for itself by hosting large-scale concerts. In 2006, both the Rolling Stones and Madonna played in the city, only 10 days apart from each other. U2 played here in 2010, and in 2011 Bon Jovi. In 2004, Forum was opened, and in 2009, the outdoor venue, Casa Arena was added.
In 2012, the city hosted a stage of the bike race, Giro d‘Italia. The Former State Prison opened the Prison Museum in 2012, and holds concerts, company events, a new tourist information centre and more.