Halmstad’s fortifications

There used to be fortifications all around the heart of Halmstad. Some remnants of the historic walls can still be seen today.

To show the location of the fortifications in relation to today’s Halmstad, the sketch superimposes the walls and moat on a 2019 map of the city.

Karta över hur Halmstad Fästning gick

Building of the fortifications begun

Building of Halmstad’s fortifications is said to have started in 1598. The work is reputed to have been led by Dutch construction manager Hans van Steenwinckel (who is also associated with the fortifications at Varberg, Akerhus and Bohus). Unfortunately, von Steenwinckel died in 1601, four years before Halmstad’s fortifications were completed.

Fortification anatomy

The fortifications comprised high earth embankments surrounded by stone walls. Known as bastions, the pointed projections were platforms for the fortifications’ artillery. These bastions had their own names – Norra (northern), Kloster (monastery), Våghals (daredevil), Västra (western), Mölle (mill) and Södra (southern). A moat and the Nissan river ran around the fortifications.

The fortifications had four gates – Norre port (north gate), Väster port (west gate), Söder port (south gate) and Öster port (east gate). Even today, the north gate has a stately presence.

On the north and northwestern sides of the fortifications, there were two high earthworks for long-range artillery. These were known as “katter” (“cats”). It is believed they were built from earth removed in constructing the moat.

Still here

Even today, you can see the “west cat” at the junction of two central streets (Byggaregatan and Hantverksgatan). The north gate and parts of the “north cat” can still be seen at Norre Katts park.
Also still visible are the old casemates (inset gun emplacements) along Karl XI:s väg. At Klammerdammsgatan, there is an open casemate and at Kyrkogatan there is one that can be viewed from the outside.

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