History of the city
As the water from the Baltic Ice Lake withdrew, the land around present-day Sölvesborg became accessible to settlers from what today is Denmark. The first people to settle were farmers; remains of their presence have been found in the area dating back to the stone age, mostly in the area around Gammalstorp, Siretorp and Istaby. The hill in the east, marking the border towards Karlshamn called Ryssberget, was a direct creation of the glacial movements. On the western side of the hill, the different times of ice withdrawal are clearly noticeable. The old, now drained lake of Vesan was also a product of the ice age. The port town of Sölvesborg was founded in the 12th century, between the mountain Ryssberget and the bay to the east (Sölvesborgsviken), but the city itself has grown up around the church, the monastery and later on the castle. The oldest part of the church of Saint Nicholas is from the 12th century. In the 14th century, the church formed part of a Carmelite convent. In 1564 Sölvesborg took over the city charter of Elleholm. At about the same time as the church was built, the castle took shape. The oldest part are slightly younger than the church, and although the earliest days are not well documented, it is supposed that it was originally merely a fortress. The castle came to be extended - both its height as well as the area it covered during the years. The city was granted its charter in 1445 by the Scandinavian king Christopher of Bavaria. The history of Sölvesborg is marked by its location on the main road connecting the then Danish districts of Skåne and Blekinge, therefore a fortress was built as Sölvesborg was the main city in the province of Sölvesborg (called Sölvesborgs län). The origin of the name Sölvesborg is unclear, but is believed to come from the founder of the castle, Sölfwitz or Sölvitz. The name thus means the castle (Borg) of Sölfwitz. Others claim that the mentioned Sölve might be the Norse Viking King Sölve or Salve. During the Middle Ages and well into the 16th century, Sölvesborg marked a strategic city in the west, together with the easternmost city - Kristianopel. During its heyday, the city came to host many of the ruling Danes when they came to visit the town. One notable character to inherit the Sölvesborg castle, was Sören Norby, which he was granted after his leaving Sweden, as he had fell out of favour with the Swedish king, Gustav Vasa. With the Danish king Christian IV, change came to be. The old town west to Sölvesborg, Vä, was burnt down during the wars with Sweden and Christian wanted to replace it with a new one – Christianstad (the city of Christian). In order to accomplish this, the trade privileges for Vä and Sölvesborg were withdrawn and given to Kristianstad. The city thus became less important and subsequently fell behind. Some minor production, such as a Faience factory between 1773 and 1798 made no major impressions. The castle was abandoned after the Danish defeat to the Swedes at the battle of Knäred in 1637. Rather than letting the Swedes seize the castle, the foreman of the castle decided that it should be burnt. Today, nothing but ruins remain, but the old castle in Bäckaskog is of the same age and of similar construction. The now defunct city privileges were not restored until in 1841, by the Swedish king Carl XIV.