Did you know that at one time, Kungsbacka was Denmark’s smallest city?

Kungsbacka, or Koningsbakkae as it was called at the time, was a Danish border trading post during the Middle Ages and Denmark’s smallest city for a time. In 1982, Kungsbacka celebrated its four hundredth anniversary in memory of regaining its status as a city in 1582.

On the other hand, Kungsbacka existed as a city long before the 1500s. The first time the city was mentioned was in 1366, concerning the Kungsbackahus fortification (today called Skansen), which was located between the rivers Kungsbackaå and Söderå.

Shipping and trade

The largest sources of income for the townsfolk were extraction of salt on Läsö Island, shipping to Jylland and Sweden, trade with the Marks district in Sweden, and agriculture in the town’s fields to the north and west.

When Halland became Swedish in 1645, the importance of Kungsbacka decreased and it became more and more difficult to carry on with shipping. In 1646 the city was deprived of the right to carry out shipping abroad, but regained the right to some extent in 1675.

Gothenburg was soaking up both population and trade. Kungsbacka has long been one of Sweden’s smallest cities, with a population of under 1,000 at the end of the 1800s.

Architect Carl Hårleman described Kungsbacka as a farming village with no urban industry. In 1805, the city had 384 inhabitants.

The age of privateers

Kungsbacka was known as a shipping town thanks to commercial shipping chiefly carried out by ship masters from Onsala and Vallda.

The most famous of them was privateer captain Lasse i Gatan. His exploits led to his being given the rank of commodore, and he was ennobled with the name Lars Gathenhielm. He was accused on a few occasions of piracy, but was defended by the king and never sentenced. Lasse died in 1718, only 29 years old. Both he and his wife Ingela lie buried in two grand marble sarcophagi in the church at Onsala.

Important dates

  • In 1645, Denmark handed Halland over to Sweden with the Peace of Brömsebro. Sweden would administer Halland for 30 years
  • In 1658, Halland became completely Swedish with the Peace of Roskilde
  • In 1683, Swedish law was introduced
  • In 1846, the entire city of Kungsbacka was destroyed in a fire. The only houses that survived were the Red Cottage (Röda stugan) on Norra Torggatan, and the Mayor’s House (Borgmästarvillan) on Östergatan
  • The old medieval city structure disappeared, and the city was rebuilt according to a new, modern city plan. The pastel-coloured wooden buildings from the turn of the last century, together with newly-constructed modern designs, give the town square an idyllic setting. In 1875 the wooden church was rebuilt after a fire; the location of earlier churches is marked in the pavement of the town square.
  • In 1865, Kungsbacka got its first city councillor
  • In 1888, the railroad was inaugurated
  • In 1897, Kungsbacka got new water mains
  • In 1935, the town court was abolished and transferred to the jurisdiction of Fjäre District
  • In 1967, many municipalities in Sweden were merged. The municipalities of Kungsbacka, Tölö, Särö, Onsala, Fjärås and Löftadalen were formed at that time
  • In 1972, the jurisdiction was moved to Varberg and became the North Halland District Court
  • In 1969, the municipalities of Kungsbacka and Tölö were combined into one municipality
  • In 1971, Särö became a part of Kungsbacka Municipality
  • In 1974, the municipalities of Kungsbacka, Onsala, Fjärås, and Löftadalen were merged, forming the current Kungsbacka Municipality