"Medieval wonder" Top 5 Page for this destination Visby by Sjalen

Visby Travel Guide: 183 reviews and 581 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 and Cons
  • Pros:great seaside setting, historic, cosy, good food, nightlife...
  • Cons:a tad expensive even for being Sweden
  • In a nutshell:Walled-in wonder
  • Last visit to Visby: Jan 2008
  • Intro Updated Aug 30, 2008
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Reviews (51)

Comments (6)

  • septem's Profile Photo
    Aug 16, 2009 at 9:30 AM

    Hi Skalman! very interesting pages about Visby and also your lovely images of this lovely location. Thanks. Juliana

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Jul 20, 2008 at 3:16 PM

    Hi Ive been thinking to go to the medieval week - now Ive got the time Im not sure! Visby/Gotland or go to oslo and Bergen for the 8 days Ive got!So come to yr pg for a roam and sightsee!

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Mar 13, 2008 at 7:50 PM

    Never heard of the place or the Pippi films. Thanks for sharing, looks delightful.

  • MichaelFalk1969's Profile Photo
    Oct 8, 2007 at 8:09 AM

    I have in mind to visit Visby in 2008, but I never knew that it was a film location for Pippi Longbottom! Wonderful tips & photos.

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    Aug 28, 2007 at 10:36 AM

    Funny to see Pippi Langstrumpf's Villa Kunterbunt! Have been to Visby on a cruise ship in sunny weather and visited the history museum in the few hours I had in 2002.

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Aug 20, 2007 at 11:17 AM

    nice to see your page about Visby, I had been here just once during a short stay of our cruiseship and always wanted to return!

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