Top Historic Sights in Vadstena, Sweden

Explore the historic highlights of Vadstena

Vadstena Castle

Vadstena Castle was originally built by King Gustav I in 1545 as a fortress to protect Stockholm from enemies from the south. The fortress consisted of three smaller stone buildings facing the lake, Vättern, three 31 meter wide ramparts, a courtyard, a moat and four circular cannons turrets. The original ramparts were torn down in the 19th century and the present ramparts were inaugurated in 1999. The stone buildings ...
Founded: 1545 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Vadstena Abbey

The Abbey of Our Lady and of St. Bridget, more commonly referred to as Vadstena Abbey, was the motherhouse of the Bridgettine Order. The abbey started on one of the farms donated to it by the king, but the town of Vadstena grew up around it. The abbey was founded in 1346 by Saint Bridget with the assistance of King Magnus IV of Sweden and his Queen Blanche of Namur, who made a will donating ten farms to the abbey founded ...
Founded: 1346 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Vadstena Museum

Vadstena City Museum displays the history of Vadstena from the Middle Ages to present. There is also a collection of famous Vadstena laces.
Founded: 1949 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Vadstena Town Hall

The Town Hall of Vadstena is Sweden's oldest, dating back to the early 15th century. It was first mentioned in 1417. There were two halls in the downstairs and the actual town hall in the upstairs. The tower was erected in the 1500s.
Founded: ca. 1417 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Bishop’s House

Bishop’s House was built originally in the 1390s for the residence of Linköping Bishop when he was visiting Vadstena. The present house dates from the 15th century by Bishop Henrik Tidemansson. In the interior you will find fragments of wall paintings preserved from the time it was built. Both Christian II of Denmark and King Gustav Vasa of Sweden have stayed in the house. It is open to the public for special e ...
Founded: 1390s | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Red Tower

Rödtornet (Red Tower) is the only remaining part of the medieval St. Peter's Church built in the 12th century. The tower was erected in 1464. The church was replaced with a school in 1828.
Founded: 1464 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Hospital Museum

Vadstena Hospital Museum covers the town's hospital tradition. The museum building is an old mental hospital built in 1757. The 16th century Mårten Skinnares House is situated next to the museum and open during guided tours of the museum.
Founded: 1757 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Herrestad Church

Herrestad Church is one of the oldest existing churches in Sweden. According the Radiocarbon dating of wooden parts the construction was started in 1112. Archaeologists have also found nearby an early Christian tomb from the 1000s. It is quite probable there has been a wooden church before the stone church was built. Herrestad church was made of limestone in early Romanesque style. The interior includes a medieval tripty ...
Founded: ca. 1112 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.

In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.

The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.

The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.