Outside the modern town hall there is a sculpture of the meeting between the Danish king Christian IV and the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf. They met in Halmstad in 1619 when Sweden was paying off a debt to Denmark. Apparently the partied as befitted royalty but relations must still have been frosty underneath and of course the wars raged on for years to come. The sculpture is from 1952 by Edwin Öhrström.
Prince Bertil's Path
Starting at Halmstad Castle, you can walk all along the sea, past stone quarries, fishing cottages, beaches and scenic forests with bridges until you reach Tylösand which is 9 kilometres from Halmstad by car, but this path adds a bit, so at 13 kilometres it is a day's walking if you rest somewhere. It is named after Prince Bertil who was the Duke of Halland and spent time in the city. You can also get around here if you are disabled as in fact the path started as an inventory to just how welcoming Halmstad was to the disabled. Good shoes and a bottle of water.
Halmstad's city library has to be seen simply for its architecture. Where else do you have a library practically IN a river. It opened in 2006 and the architect company is Schmid, Hammer & Lassen from Århus in Danmark which was also responsible for the new Copenhagen library known as the Black diamond. Inside the library you can appreciate its light and also of course read papers from all over the world as well as check your e-mail.
Capital of Halland
Halmstad is one of those places I wonder why it does not get more international tourists as it is easily one of my favourite Swedish cities. Sure, us Swedes come here in droves for the wonderful and famous Tylösand beach, but foreigners just seem to whizz by or make a short stop on their way to the archipelago around Gothenburg even if it is starting to change and you hear a lot more foreign languages in its streets these days. Some are golfers as it is a well known golf area. In fact, there's not much the town is not suitable for, with locals like Per Gessle of Roxette fame and footballer Fredrik Ljungberg testifying to the fact that both sports and music are really big here.
Founded in the 1307, the city is probably older but that is when it got its priviliges by the Danish king, since Halland was then under Danish rule. The city turned Swedish in 1645 when it was first given to Sweden for 30 years as a sort of deposit for good Danish behaviour, and then finally ended up with Sweden after all at the Treaty of Roskilde before the 30 years had passed. Halmstad is a city that somehow mixes the best of Sweden and Denmark in a way that few other former Danish cities do, with great summertime nightlife and half timbered houses combined with a distinct Swedishness these days. The architecture is a mix after a few city fires, notably in the 17th and 19th centuries, but there is still a Danish legacy which you shall see if you read on.
Set by the River Nissan, one of the major rivers in the south of Sweden, Halmstad was originally built a bit further upstream at a place called Slottskällan and near where there is today an old church ruin on the outskirts of the city. Then the castle was built further downstream and Halmstad grew within its fortifications. Today the town has just under 60 000 inhabitants and the whole municipality has just under 90 000 which currently makes it 19th in size amongst Swedish cities. There is a definate small town feel to the architecture of the place, yet it feels like any bigger city in summer when the main streets are full of restaurants.