The city is surrounded by typical moraine landscape with low hills and valleys created by glaciers during the last ice ages.Horsens is 50 km (31 mi) south of Aarhus and 30 km (19 mi) north of Vejle, and approximately 200 km (120 mi) from Copenhagen.The name Middelfart, first recorded as "Mæthælfar" in Valdemar's Census Book in 1231, consists of the old Danish word mæthal meaning 'middle' and far meaning 'way'.This name originally referred to the strait Snævringen ('the narrowing'), which is the narrowest part of the Little Belt, and was subsequently applied to the settlement as well.In the 18th century income from porpoise catches diminished but in the 19th century, with the establishment of its own harbour in 1836, conditions improved thanks in particular to the growing trade in agricultural products from the surrounding areas.From the mid-19th century small industries started to develop, especially the iron foundry.
The whale hunters linked their boats across the rather narrow Little Belt and by beating the sea with sticks and branches they directed the migrating porpoises to low water areas where they could be slaughtered.
It is believed the name Horsens derives from the old Danish words hors (horse) and næs (naze, headland). The earliest traces of a city are remains of a pagan burial site and houses dating back to the 10th century.
In the 12th century, the kings Sweyn III and Valdemar I issued coins in the city.
In 1970 a motorway bridge to Jutland was opened and in 2007 Middelfart became the seat of an expanded municipality, which included the former communes of Ejby and Nørre Aaby.
From the Middle Ages until the end of the 19th century the local fishermen were also whale hunters in winter.
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In the 13th century the city got its own legal code.