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 first mention of Aalborg under its original name Alabu or Alabur is found on coins from c.1040, the period when King Harthacnut (Hardeknud) settled in the area. 1075, Adam of Bremen reported that Alaburg, as he called it in German, was an important harbour for ships sailing to Norway.Its prosperity increased when the merchant- and trade association Guds Legems Laug was established in 1481, facilitating trade with the Hanseatic League, The king frequently visited the town, where he held court and stayed in the old Aalborghus.The herring fishery linked Aalborg to the East coast of England, across the North Sea, both in commercial competition and cultural exchange.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 town prospered, becoming one of the largest communities in Denmark.
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.
During the Middle Ages a number of important institutions were established in Aalborg, including Budolfi Cathedral in the late 14th century and the Hospital of the Holy Ghost, a monastery and nunnery founded in 1451 to help those in need.
In 1530 a large part of the town was destroyed by fire, and in December 1534 it was stormed and plundered by the king's troops after a peasants' revolt known as the Count's Feud led by Skipper Clement. From the 1550s to the 1640s, as a result of increased foreign trade, Aalborg enjoyed great prosperity, second only to that of Copenhagen.