These are some of the locations you should visit in Gothenburg, to learn more about the history of the city.

Älvsborgs slott

Älvsborgs slott (Old Älvsborg Fortress) was the original defense structure in the area near the mouth of river Göta älv. It protected the original settlement of Lödöse, further inland, which in turn was superseded by New Lödöse located close to the present day city location.

Ruins from Älvsborgs slott Ruins from Älvsborgs slott.

The first building on the site was created around 1366, but the early wooden castle was burned by the Danish forces in 1502. During the 1520s it was upgraded to a stone castle by king Erik XIV. This is also where the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus lived in March 1619, when he decided to found a new city called Gothenburg.

Ruins from Älvsborgs slott Ruins from Älvsborgs slott.

In 1660 it was demolished to be replaced by Nya Älvsborg, build on an island in the archipelago. Material from the original castle was used and today only scattered ruins remains.

Ruins from Älvsborgs slott Ruins from Älvsborgs slott.


The area of Färjenäs, close to the northern abutment of Älvsborgsbron, is the predecessor to Gothenburg city. It was founded by King Karl IX in 1603 and often referred to as “Karl IX’s Gothenburg”. It was a settlement mostly composed of Dutch on a strategic location across the river from Älvsborgs slott. Hundreds of houses were quickly build, but unfortunately all of it was burned to the ground in 1611 by Danish forces, after only eight years in existence.

Church ruin in Färjenäs This church ruin from early 17th century is one of very few remains.

The nearby area called Kvarnberget (not to be mistaken for the hill with the same name located in Västra Nordstan) used to have gardens and settlements, most of which were removed in the 1960s. Remains of the old stone walls are well preserved along Salterigatan.

Stone walls at Salterigatan Old stone walls along Salterigatan.

Landmarks of the modern city can be seen through the one-time gardens at Kvarnberget.

Kvarnberget The one-time gardens at Kvarnberget.

The area was named after the ferry, which was a link to Älvsborgs slott on the opposite side of the river. The old ferry ran until 1967, as it became obsolete after the construction of nearby Älvsborgsbron.

Old ferry slip at Färjenäs The old ferry slip.

Nya Älvsborg

Nya Älvsborg (New Älvsborg Fortress) was the replacement for Älvsborgs slott, built with material from the old castle. Located on the small island Kyrkogårdsholmen near the harbor entrance of Gothenburg, it became of vital strategic importance and construction began in 1653 to provide protection from the Danish forces.

Nya Älvsborg fortress from distance The fortress at Kyrkogårdsholmen.

The fortress was later used as a prison until 1866. A settlement in New Sweden near Delaware River in North America, Fort Nya Elfsborg, was named after this fortress, but abandoned in 1655.

Nya Älvsborg fortress walls Fortress walls.

Many structures still have cannon balls in the walls from the Danish attack in 1719 during the Great Northern War. Most notable is the church, which was hit by a cannon ball during prayer sermon in 1719. The twelve pound ball entered through a window and hit the wall, where it still remains today.

Nya Älvsborg cannonball in wall Cannonball from 1719 attack inside the church wall.


Kronhuset is said to be the oldest building in Gothenburg, even though Torstensonska palatset may share the same claim. It was constructed in 1655 and used as storage facility for military equipment.

Kronhuset exterior Kronhuset, exterior.

The area around Kronhuset is the closest thing to an Old Town of Gothenburg. Unfortunately there was a great fire in 1793 and all the old houses were reduced to ash, except for Kronhuset. It was decided that new houses should be constructed in stone materials, which are the ones we can see today. The Dutch bricks of the first floor still bear visible traces of the fires of the 18th century.

Kronhuset area Kronhuset area.

Kronhuset was once used as temporary riksdag (national legislative assembly) in 1660 by King Karl X Gustav. He died later in the same year and his four-year-old son Karl XI was carried inside Kronhuset to be appointed as new king of Sweden.

Kronhuset top floor Top floor of Kronhuset.
Kronhuset pillar Notice the wooden pillar once used to haul up materials.

Torstensonska palatset

As previously mentioned, Torstensonska palatset (also known as Residenset) is one of the oldest buildings in Gothenburg. Constructed in 1650, it has seen a fair share of prominent guests, such as Karl X Gustav who died in the house 1660. This is also where Karl XII was planning his war campaign on Norway and Gustav III did some strategic work during the Theatre War in 1788.

Torstensonska palatset, interior Torstensonska palatset, exterior.
Torstensonska palatset, garden Torstensonska palatset, garden.

The wall

In 1624 the Swedes began construction of heavy defense structures around Gothenburg. With a bit of help from Dutch engineers, they created one of the most fortified cities in Northern Europe.

Carolus Rex above Esperantoplatsen Carolus Rex above Esperantoplatsen.

The wall was demolished in early 19th century and very little remains of it. As far as I know, it can only be seen at these locations:

  • Carolus Rex above Esperantoplatsen: This is by far the largest section remaining and the only one that resembles a wall. The bastion offers a great view as well.
  • Biopalatset: A big section is dominating the lower floor of the cinema.
  • Parking space beneath Pedagogen: A small section can be seen through a glass window.
  • Excavated remains at Residensbron. This was discovered during construction work in late 2013, but there are plans to make it permanently viewable later on through a subterranean window.
Remains of the wall at Biopalatset Remains of the wall at Biopalatset.
Remains of the wall at Residensbron Remains of the wall excavated at Residensbron.

The underground areas

But there are more things hidden under the ground. I once climbed down there and walked along the muddy paths. They were once used as corpse storage due to the low temperature, and later used by fishmongers to cool down their fish before being sold from rafts in the moat (the early edition of Feskekôrka).

Underground walkway beneath Carolus Dux Underground walkway beneath Carolus Dux.

Even later on, German and Russian prisoners of war were supposedly kept in the narrow walkways.

There is also an impressive chamber beneath Carolus Rex, where speleothem (soda straws) are hanging from the ceiling and the walls are covered with salt.

Chamber beneath Carolus Rex Chamber beneath Carolus Rex.
Speleothem ceiling formations beneath Carolus Rex Speleothem ceiling formations beneath Carolus Rex.
Salt on the wall in chamber beneath Carolus Rex Salt on the wall in chamber beneath Carolus Rex.
Entrance to area beneath Carolus Rex The inconspicuous entrance to the area beneath Carolus Rex.

Tyska kyrkan

Tyska kyrkan (German Church) is also named Christinæ kyrka after queen Kristina, daughter of Gustav II Adolf who founded the city. It is located close to the big square where Gustav II Adolf poses as a statue.

The building next door is Ostindiska huset, built in 1762 by the Swedish East India Company which was the largest trading company in Sweden during the 18th century.

Tyska kyrkan, exterior Tyska kyrkan with Ostindiska huset.

The first church on the location was initiated in 1623. Several fires devastated the building and the current version is the third one, with an impressive tower from 1783.

It is possible to walk up the tower, through eight floors of narrow stairs and dusty wooden beams.

Tyska kyrkan, tower Inside the tower of Tyska kyrkan.

The bells can be heard all across the city at given times. There is also a set of smaller bells that plays a handful of melodies, such as Beethoven.

Tyska kyrkan, bells The bells in the tower of Tyska kyrkan.

A notable thing to look for on the inside is the separate chamber behind the altar. That chamber holds the tomb of Rutger von Ascheberg, where he was buried in 1694. There are also several tombs beneath the church floor.

Tyska kyrkan, interior Tyska kyrkan, interior.


The other prominent church tower in the inner city is Domkyrkan (Gothenburg Cathedral).

Domkyrkan, exterior Domkyrkan exterior.
Domkyrkan, interior Domkyrkan interior.

As expected, there are three large bells in the bell tower.

Domkyrkan, bells The bells in the tower of Domkyrkan.
Domkyrkan, stairs Stairs in the tower of Domkyrkan.

After 157 steps in narrow stairs, the reward is a nice view from the top.

Domkyrkan, view Eastern view from the tower of Domkyrkan.

Skansen Kronan

Two twin bastions were build outside of the wall: Skansen Kronan (west) and Skansen Lejonet (east).

Skansen Kronan in summertime Skansen Kronan.

The hill where Skansen Kronan is situated has seen fortifications since 1640, starting with a simple wooden fort called Juteskrämman. Skansen Kronan itself was introduced in 1698 with 23 guns and very thick walls. Ironically the fortress was never attacked and the guns were never used until the fortress was decommissioned in 1806.

Skansen Kronan, top floor Top floor of Skansen Kronan.

There was once a covered caponier from Carolus Rex to Skansen Kronan. The only trace of it today is the street on the same stretch, bearing its name (Kaponjärgatan).

Skansen Kronan in wintertime Skansen Kronan towers above the roofs of Linnéstaden.

Skansen Lejonet

While its twin is quite accessible, Skansen Lejonet is not. You need to go by the less traveled road on the north side, or use half-hidden paths across the railway tracks.

Approach to Skansen Lejonet Skansen Lejonet.

Skansen Lejonet is located on the hill Gullbergsklippan where Birger Jarl met with Håkon VI of Norway in 1253 to end the threat of Denmark. The first defense structure on the hill was built in 1303 and the tower structure we see today was inaugurated by Karl XI in 1689.

Ceremonial hall in Skansen Lejonet Ceremonial hall located on the top floor inside Skansen Lejonet.

Oscar IIs fort

Named after King Oscar II in 1899, this fortified outpost inside Västerberget was part of Älvsborgs fästning, the last fortress located at the mouth of the river.

Cannons at Oscar IIs fort 24 cm cannons at the fort.


This ship is a recreation of the original Ostindiefararen which was built in 1738. The original made three voyages from Gothenburg to Guangzhou and back, but on the last journey in 1745 it hit the infamous reef called Hunnebådan and sank, with the safe harbor just in sight.

The lost cargo was worth a fortune, filled to the brim with Chinese porcelain, spices, silk and tea buried at a depth of about eight meters. Some of the cargo was rescued, but most of it was still there when the wreck was rediscovered in 1984.

Ostindiefararen with tourist boat Paddan Ostindiefararen with tourist boat Paddan.

Plans were made to build a replica and travel the same itinerary as the original. The construction started in 1995 and after the maiden voyage to China it returned to Gothenburg in 2007.

Ostindiefararen cannons below deck The cannons below deck.

Gathenhielmska kulturreservatet

These protected buildings shows how the old residential area Majorna once looked before being replaced with modern buildings in the later part of 19th century.

Pölgatan in Gathenhielmska kulturreservatet Pölgatan in Gathenhielmska kulturreservatet.
Sailor statue in Gathenhielmska kulturreservatet Sailor statue “Stigbergs-Lasse” by Eino Hanski, 1996.


The building with the difficult name is an indoor fish market, even though it looks like some sort of gothic church. It has provided locals and tourists with all sorts of fresh fish since 1874.

Feskekôrka Feskekôrka.

Bohus fästning

While technically not part of Gothenburg, this fortress is an old favorite of mine and situated only a few meters from the border between Gothenburg and Kungälv.

Bohus fästning Bohus fästning.

Construction began in 1308, initiated by King Håkon V of Norway. It was given to Sweden after the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658. The fortress was partly demolished in the 18th century and the removed stones can still be seen as parts in nearby houses.


  • avatar
    10 Mar, 2014

    Harligt Reine! (fast nu far jag ANNU mer hemlangtan!) Haller, med, gillar Bohus fastning skarpt. Har for mig den var attackerad aett flertal ggr, men aldrig overtagen?

  • avatar
    11 Mar, 2014

    Stämmer bra, den har aldrig blivit erövrad, bara överlämnad.

    När du tröttnar på snön är det bara att komma hem. :)

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