"Medieval wonder" Top 5 Page for this destination Visby by Sjalen
Visby Travel Guide: 174 reviews and 562 photos
Visby, capital of Gotland and the only city of any size on the island (25 000 people live in it) is easily the most memorable Swedish city along with Stockholm, and a great hub when discovering the rest of Gotland. The old city centre is surrounded by a 3,5 kilometre great wall which Visby used to protect itself from the rest of the Gotlanders. This, along with magnificently preserved Hanseatic houses made it a UNESCO World Heritage in 1995 but still I meet many non-Scandinavians who have never heard of it.
Gotland has been a trading point in the Baltic Sea for ages, even Roman artefacts have been found on the island, and Visby grew up in one of the most difficult places along its shores, in a little bay between tall limestone cliffs. The reason for this was probably the good freshwater sources. As more and more people settled it became quite a hub (something that all its church ruins can testify to) and very wealthy, trading with Germans and Baltic people. In fact, it was a lot bigger than Stockholm at this time, having 5000 citizens compared to Stockholm's meager 1500 souls. Visby did so well its citizens built the impressive wall around themselves for protection. Then came the Danes, with King Valdemar Atterdag, in 1361 and as he attacked the Gotland farmers, Visby's citizens sat inside their wall. Afterwards, the king marched into the city and Gotland was Danish until the mid 1600s when Sweden got it back as well as aquired new provinces in today's south Sweden. During the Danish time, Gotland's wealth declined since the kings raised taxes so much that trading was no longer profitable. It became a backwater, even if Germans and others continued to come. The Danes built Visborg's Castle just above today's harbour, but all that remains of that today are the stone foundations in the corner of the city wall since they wrecked it when they left.
I so wish I will be able to call Visby my home some time in life. I visited for the first time in summer 2007 and had to go back for New Year to see what was a much quieter city but then I had it all to myself and could enjoy the museum and good food without crowds. The place just beckons me back...
Today, Gotland's capital is a city proud of its heritage and a place which is fairly quiet in winter but which has more restaurants than most other Swedish cities and in summer they all come alive when half of Stockholm seems to descend on the city, raising prices on both meals and accommodation. Still, any price is worth paying to experience this fantastic gem in Scandinavian history.
- Pros:great seaside setting, historic, cosy, good food, nightlife...
- Cons:a tad expensive even for being Sweden
- In a nutshell:Walled-in wonder
A great place which I could also have put under "restaurants" but prefer to put here for the reason that you stop here... more travel advice
Visby is sometimes included in the big cruise liners' itinerary for Baltic Sea cruises so you might find yourself here... more travel advice
Sjalen's Related Pages
Visby Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "Medieval wonder"
- "Ruins 'n Roses - A sunny day in Visby"
- "Visby ~ "City of Roses and Ruins""
- "HANSEATIC TOWN OF VISBY"
- "The Medieval City of Roses"
- "Visby ? Medieval City of Ruins and Roses"
- "Charlene's Gotland Page"
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- Nightlife in Visby
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- Warnings and Dangers in Visby
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