Aalborg, also spelled Ålborg, is an industrial and university city in the North of Jutland, Denmark. It has an urban population of 112,194, making it the fourth most populous city in Denmark. With a population of 210,316 (as of 1 January 2016), the Municipality of Aalborg is the third most populous in the country after Copenhagen and Aarhus. By road Aalborg is 64 kilometres (40 mi) southwest of Frederikshavn, and 118 kilometres (73 mi) north of Aarhus. The distance to Copenhagen is 412 kilometres (256 mi).
The earliest settlements date to around AD 700. Aalborg's position at the narrowest point on the Limfjord made it an important harbour during the Middle Ages, and later a large industrial centre. Architecturally, the city is known for its half-timbered mansions built by its prosperous merchants. Budolfi Church, now a cathedral, dates from the end of the 14th century and Aalborghus Castle, a royal residence, was built in 1550. Today, Aalborg is a city in transition from a working-class industrial area to a knowledge-based community. A major exporter of grain, cement, and spirits, its thriving business interests include Siemens Wind Power, Aalborg Industries, and Aalborg Portland. These companies have become global producers of wind turbine rotors, marine boilers and cement.
With its theatres, symphony orchestra, opera company, performance venues, and museums such as Aalborg Historical Museum and the Aalborg Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg is an important cultural hub. The Aalborg Carnival, held at the end of May, is one of the largest festivals in Scandinavia, attracting some 100,000 people annually. The major university is the University of Aalborg, founded in 1974, which has more than 17,000 students. The University College of Northern Denmark is one of seven new regional organisations while the Royal School of Library and Information Science (RSLIS) provides higher education in library and information science. Trænregimentet, the Danish regiment for army supply and emergency medical personnel, is also in Aalborg. Aalborg University Hospital, the largest in the north of Jutland, was founded in 1881.
The football club Aalborg BK, established in 1885 and based at Nordjyske Arena, won the Danish Superliga in the 1994–95 season, the 1998–99 season, the 2007–08 season and the 2013–14 season. Other sports associations include the icehockey club Aalborg Pirates, the mens handball team Aalborg Håndbold, the rugby club Aalborg RK, and Aalborg Cricket Club. Aalborg Railway Station, on John F. Kennedys Plads has connected the city to Randers and the south since 1869. Aalborg Airport is just 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) northwest of the city centre, and the E45, a European route from Karesuando, Sweden, to Gela, Italy, passes through Aalborg.
The European Commission has concluded that the citizens of Aalborg are the most satisfied people in Europe with their city.
Aalborg is in North Jutland (northwestern Denmark), at the narrowest point of the Limfjord, a shallow sound that separates North Jutlandic Island (Vendsyssel-Thy) from the rest of the Jutland Peninsula and connects Aalborg to the Kattegat about 35 kilometres (22 mi) to the east. Aalborg is 118 km (73 mi) north of Aarhus, 82 km (51 mi) north of Randers, and 64 km (40 mi) southwest of Frederikshavn. It is 414 km (257 mi) by Great Belt Fixed Link to Copenhagen, 150 km (93 mi) by the Frederikshavn-Göteborg ferry to Gothenburg in Sweden, and 363 km (226 mi) by the Frederikshavn-Oslo ferry to Oslo in Norway.
The area close to the waterfront is low-lying, with an elevation averaging about 5 metres (16 ft), but there are many hills in and around city, some reaching over 60 m (200 ft). Nørresundby, on the northern side of the sound, is also a hilly area. Villages to the south of Aalborg from west to east include Frejlev, Svenstrup, and Gistrup (which contains extensive woodland to the south as well as a golf club). Klarup and Storvorde lie to the southeast along the 595 road, which, flanking a stretch of the Limfjord known as Langerak, leads to the town of Hals. Nibe, with a harbour on the Limfjord, is 21 kilometres (13 mi) to the southwest, past the village of Frejlev. The Nibe Broads (Nibe Bredning) in the Limfjord not only has the largest eelgrass belts in Danish waters but is an important sanctuary for thousands of migratory birds. To the north of the city, villages include Vadum, Aabybro, Vestbjerg, Sulsted, Tylstrup, Vodskov, and Hjallerup. There is an extensive plantation, Branths Plantage - Møgelbjerg, immediately north of Vodskov.
The Himmerland region to the south still has a number of moors which once formed a vast area of heathland extending 35 km (22 mi) to the Rold Forest near Arden. Rebild Hills in the Rold Forest stretch over 425 acres (172 ha) of rolling heath country about 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Aalborg. Lille Vildmose, to the southeast, is reported to be the largest raised bog in north-western Europe.