Planned and unplanned towns and cities


Urban development, from castle to council

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The evolution of urban planning in Denmark begins with the star-shaped street layout that had castles or churches at their centres. The development includes the French-inspired designs that served as monuments to royal power and today’s municipal planning. But some elements such as the use of urban planning as a way to promote commerce and defence serve as a common thread stretching all the way from the Viking era to today.

Urban planning has existed in Denmark since the time of the Vikings. Århus, Ribe and Hedeby were all founded in the 8th and 9th centuries as permanent coastal settlements protected on land by ramparts. Other Viking structures, such as Trelleborg, Fyrkat and Aggersborg forts, all serve as proof that the Crown even then used urban planning as a tool for promoting trade and coastal development. At the same time as planned cities were sprouting up, other settlements were taking root along roads, natural harbours and in other places well suited for habitation.

Star-shaped medieval towns
Increasing levels of commerce around the year 1100 led to an increase in urban development. The recognition that towns were major power centres resulted in more systematic development. Lübeck, founded in 1143, became a model for many cities along the shores of the Baltic – including Copenhagen, founded in 1167. The layout was simple: a castle served …

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