Now the second-largest city in the country, Gothenburg, Sweden is actually a relatively new city. After several unsuccessful attempts, it was finally founded in 1621 by King Gustaf II Adolf (r. 1611-1632). The area chosen for this new city was rather marshy, and so the king commissioned Dutch planners to construct the city as they had the necessary expertise to drain the land. Consequently, Gothenburg is very Dutch in style and its layout is similar to that of Jakarta, Indonesia, which was built at the same time.
Once little more than a fishing town, Gothenburg's fortunes changed in 1731 with the founding of the Swedish East India Company. Foreign trade and profitable commercial expeditions to China meant that the city flourished. Its harbour became the country's main harbour for trade in the West, and it was also the main point of departures for Swedes emigrating to America.
By the 19th century, Gothenburg had evolved into a modern industrial city. The population increased tenfold, going from 13,000 in 1800 to 130,000 a century later in 1900. The 20th century saw further development, including the establishment of companies such as Volvo (est. 1926).
|Buildings by the canal|
My starting point was the city's main square. Once called Stortorget (Big Square), its name was changed to Gustaf Adolfs torg (Gustaf Adolf's Square) in 1854 when a statue of Gustaf II Adolf, king king and founding father of Gothenburg, was erected.
|Gustaf Adolf's Square|
|Statue of Gustaf II Adolf|
A stone's throw from the square is Christinae kyrka (Christinae Church). Inaugurated in 1648, it was named after Queen Christina (r. 1632-1652), the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustaf II Adolf. Though I didn't know it then, Christinae kyrka was the first of many churches I would encounter on my travels around the city.
Next I came across Göteborgs domkyrka (Gothenburg Cathedral), which stands on the site of an earlier church and not one but TWO earlier cathedrals. The foundation stone for the first cathedral was laid in 1626, and seven years later the main building was complete. The church was consecrated that same year.
In April 1721, the cathedral, a high school and 211 residential buildings in the area burned down. The city manager, Hans von Gerdes (1637-1723) took the opportunity to have the building somewhat redesigned. For the most part the cathedral walls had remained standing so the building could be restored quickly. And in May 1722, just 13 months after the fire, the new cathedral was opened.
But once again, bad luck befell the cathedral and, in December 1802, it burned down along with 179 houses in the vicinity. This time the fire damage was so great that nothing could be reused.
The building of the third and current cathedral started in 1804 under the Swedish architect Carl Wilhelm Carlberg (1746-1814). Carlberg died before a year before the building was complete so work fell to his former pupil, Justus Frederic Weinberg (1770-1832). Designed in the Classical style, at 59.4 metres (195 feet) long and 38 metres (125 feet) wide, the current cathedral is larger than its predecessors. It also has a transept, which the earlier cathedrals did not. The church was consecrated in May 1815. However, at the time of its reopening, it still had no tower. This was added later and inaugurated in 1825.
In 1852, it became the first church in the country to be fitted with central heating. A year later gas lighting was installed. And, in 1857 (some 136 years after the first cathedral burned down), the church was insured against fire with the Skandia Insurance Company.
In the early 20th century, the tower began to lean to the southwest, and so church was closed so that reinforcement could be done. At the same time the church received new flooring, windows, doors, benches and a temperature control system. From 1954-1957 further stabilisation work was done and thirty years later, there was yet another renovation.
|The classical main portal|
Inside it is decorated mainly in the Classical style, as is evidenced by the Ionic pillars at the front and the red marble pilasters at the back. However, there are also elements of the Empire style, an example of which can be seen in the pulpit (on the left wall of the photo below).
|Standing in the nave looking towards the altar|
|Dating from 1962, the organ has maintained the original white and gold façade|
|The back of the cathedral|
The next church I came across was Feskekôrka (Fish Church). It's not actually a church at all, but rather an indoor fish market that got its name from its resemblance to a Gothic church. Opened in 1874, it has become an institution in Gothenburg and is popular among with both tourists and locals.
|The church that isn't|
|Inside the Fish Church|
|Some of the delights on offer|
|One of the displays|
I soon located Masthuggskyrkan (Masthugget Church), which is one of the most prominent examples of Swedish National Romantic style architecture in the country. Designed by architect Sigfrid Ericson, the church was constructed between 1910 and 1914. The façade of the church is built from handmade brick. Situated on a high hill and with a 62 metre (203.4 feet) high tower, the church is a striking sight and it has become one of the symbols of the city.
|The 62 metre (203.4 feet) high tower|
|Rows of wooden benches|
|Standing near the altar looking towards the main entrance|
Though I wasn't actively looking for churches, it wasn't long before I stumbled across another. This time it was Oscar Fredriks kyrka (Oscar Fredrik's Church). Erected in the 1890s, the church was built in the Neo-Gothic style and named after the ruling king at the time, Oscar II Fredrik (r. 1872-1907).
|The stunning Oscar Fredrik's Church|
|Part of the façade|
|The clock tower|
|Detailing on the outside of the building|
The final church I came across was Hagakyrkan (Haga Church), which was built between 1856 and 1859. As much as I like churches, I had more than had my fill of all things Christian, and so I opted to do nothing more than take a photo from a fair distance away.
|The tower of Haga Church|
From there, my wanderings took me into Kungsparken (King's Park), a 13 hectare canal-side park that was designed between 1839 and 1861. It was the perfect place for peaceful and picturesque stroll...
|On the banks of the canal|
One of the things I really wanted to do was ride on Göteborgshjulet (The Gothenburg Wheel). The wheel is 60 feet (approx. 18.3 metres) in diameter, has 42 gondolas and weighs in at 275 tonnes. When I visited the city in 2011 it was located in Kanaltorget (Canal Square) near the Göteborgsoperan (Gothenburg Opera House). I've since learned that it's been moved to the Liseberg Amusement Park some way away so all the lovely views I got across the Göta älv (Göta River) are no longer available.
|Gothenburg's answer to the London Eye|
|Getting all artistic!|
|Looking across the canal|
|View of the harbour with the 83 metre tall (272 feet) Lilla Bommen, aka Läppstiftet (The Lipstick), to the right|
|Göteborgsoperan (Gothenburg Opera House)|
|One last look at the wheel|
Situated at the mouth of the Göta River Älvsborg, a 17th century sea fortress, was built to protect the newly-founded town of Gothenburg. It also served to protect medieval Sweden's only access to the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
|Inside Älvsborg's fortress|
|View across the Göta River|
|One final view|