Top Historic Sights in Visby, Sweden

Explore the historic highlights of Visby

St. Lawrence's Church Ruins

Saint Lawrence’s church (Sankt Lars) was built in the central parish around 1210-1220. In the same cemetery a German parish church, Holy Trinity (Drotten in Swedish), was built around 1240. The church was abandoned after the Reformation. Architecturally, Saint Lawrence has its models in Orthodox churches, and it has been wrongly suggested that it would have been a Russian church. It’s more reasonable to imagin ...
Founded: 1210-1220 | Location: Visby, Sweden

St. Catherine's Church Ruins

The constrcution of St. Catherine’s church was started in the 1250s and continued through the 14th century. It was actually never completed, and in 1540s it was partially collapsed during the worship. Today only ruins remain, but pillars are still very impressive.
Founded: 1250s | Location: Visby, Sweden

Gotland Museum

The fine Gotlands Fornsal Museum provides comprehensive coverage of Visby's past. Housed in an 18th century distillery and a medieval warehouse, it holds five storeys of exhibition halls covering eight thousand years of history, as well as a good courtyard café and bookshop. Among the most impressive sections are the Hall of Picture Stones, a collection of richly carved stones dating mostly from the 5th to 11th ce ...
Founded: 1875 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Visby Cathedral

Visby Cathedral (also known as St. Mary’s Church) is the only survived medieval church in Visby. It was originally built for German merchants and inaugurated in 1225. Around the year 1350 the church was enlarged and converted into a basilica. The two-storey magazine was also added then above the nave as a warehouse for merchants. There is not much left of the original interior. The font is made of local red marble ...
Founded: 1225 | Location: Visby, Sweden

St. Clement Church Ruins

To the south of St Nicholas's Church, among houses, are the remains of the Romanesque church of St Clement, built in the middle of the 13th century. Excavations have brought to light the foundations of three earlier churches. The oldest, dating from the 12th century, was probably one of the first stone-built churches in Visby. To the right of the church can be seen an old weapon house, in which the men deposited their arm ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

St. Hans' & St. Peter's Church Ruins

St. Hans and St. Peter churches were built side by side during the 1200s. St. Peter was consecrated to the apostle Peter. St. Hans, which was the larger church, was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. It was where the Lutheran doctrine for the first time preached on the island. In 1527, however, Bishop Brask turned Lutherans out from the church. But as soon as the bishop sailed to Denmark, Lutherans worships were starte ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Holy Spirit Church Ruins

The Holy Spirit (Helgeand) Church, sometimes incorrectly mentioned as St. James, was built in the early 1200s. It was probably constructed as a chapel for the Danish Guild and donated by the Danish King Valdemar. In the mid-1200s the guild lost its importance and the church was sacrified as Holy Spirit Church and it also functioned as a sanctuary. The church is octagonal and built on two floors. Both floors have a common ...
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Powder Tower

The so-called Powder Tower (Kruttornet) is the oldest monument in Visby. It was built in the 12th century to protect the harbour. There was initially no door in the tower, but only a small entrance in 10 meters high. Defenders used ladders to climb up to the entrance. Today 25 meter high tower is open to the public in summer season.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Visby City Wall

The City wall of Visby (Swedish: Visby ringmur) is an old medieval defensive wall surrounding the city. The building of ringwall was probably started in the 13th century. Around 1280 it was rebuilt to reach its current height, along with the addition of its characteristic towers (although some towers were not constructed until the 15th century) It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Visby. The war in 1288 betwe ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

St. Gertrud's Chapel Ruins

The chapel was built in 1460-1470s and sanctified to St. Gertrude of Nivelles (her picture is carved to the tympanum of chapel). There are also frescoes of Ivar Axelsson Tott and his wife Magdalena. The chapel was part of the St. Jacob’s monastery and destroyed by Lübeck army (as well as many other churches) in 1525.
Founded: 1460-1470s | Location: Visby, Sweden

St. Nicholas' Church Ruins

The church of St. Nicholas was originally part of the Dominican monastery built in the 1230s. It was destroyed by Lübeck army in 1525. The church has a beautiful rose window in the gable. In a summer season the St. Nicholas church ruins are a venue for musical “Petrus de Dacia”, who was the priory of monastery between 1283-1289.
Founded: 1230s | Location: Visby, Sweden

Solberga Abbey Ruins

Solberga Abbey was a Cistercian nunnery in operation from 1246 until at least 1469. It was located outside Visby on Gotland until 1404, and then in Visby. It was the only nunnery ot the island of Gotland. Solberga Abbey was likely a daughter convent of Vreta Abbey. On 12 August 1246, Bishop Laurentius of Linköping mentions that the first nuns had been sent to Gotland, were Solberga was the only nunnery on the isla ...
Founded: 1246 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Korsbetningen

Korsbetningen was a site of the battle between Danish King Valdemar Atterdag’s army and Gotlanders, fought on 27th July, 1361. Approximately 1800 peasants were slaughtered in the battle and buried to the field. There is a medieval, Gothic-style stone cross with Latin inscription: "AD 1361, third day after the Jacob’s day, fell Gotlanders into the hands of Danish in front of Visby gates. They are buried here. P ...
Founded: 1361 | Location: Visby, Sweden

St. George's Church Ruins

The church of St. George (S:t Göran) was originally part of the leprosy hospital in Visby. It was built in the 13th century to the site of older church dating from the 1100s. Due the risk of infections the hospital and church were located outside the city wall. He hospital was abandoned due the King’s order in 1542, but used until 1611.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Barlingbo Church

The current Barlingbo Church was erected between 1225-1250 but the foundation of an older church building has been found from the nave floor. The large rosette window in west wall is an unique detail. The interior is decorated with frescoes made in the 13th and 14th century. The font from the 1100s is also beautifully carved. The pulpit dates back to 1673 and sandstone-made altar screen to 1683.
Founded: 1225-1250 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Bro Church

The first church in Bro was built during the 12th century in Romanescue style. The next church was completed in 1236 and it represented the Gothic style. In the reconstruction around 1300 the nave was demolished and replaced with the present one. In the Middle Ages Bro church was a destination for pilgrimages, because very important relic, an “original” piece of Jesus Christ’s cross was kept there. The p ...
Founded: 1236 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Akebäck Church

Akebäck Church was inaugurated in 1149, but the current nave, choir and apse were built in the late 1100s. The strong tower was built in the 1200s. The font originates from the 1200s, wooden crucifix from 1400s, altar and pulpit from 1600s. The big chandelier was donated to the church in 1850.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Hogrän Church

Hogrän Church consists of a Romanesque tower and a Gothic nave and choir. The tower thus is the oldest part of the church, dating from circa 1200. Attached to it was originally an earlier stone church, also Romanesque in style and erected during the 12th century. During the 14th century, it was however replaced by the presently visible Gothic nave and choir. A few details from this earlier church, such as a few sculpted ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Källunge Church

Källunge church (Källunge kyrka) is a church in the island-bishopric of Visby on Gotland. The church is richly decorated with reliefs and frescoes. The frescoes are important evidence of the strong Byzantine influence on Swedish art of the 12th and 13th centuries. An early depiction of a nyckelharpa is found in a relief dating from circa 1350 on one of the gates of the church. The church gives its name to the K ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Hejdeby Church

Hejdeby Church was built in the 13th century, the choir and nave first (in late Romanesque style) and the tower later (showing early Gothic influences). The interior of the church is richly decorated with medieval frescos. These date from two periods: the oldest are from the 13th century and depict apostles, the crowning of Mary, and various saints. The other set of frescos date from the 15th century and depict scenes fro ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Stora Hästnäs

Stora Hästnäs is a medieval manor house. The best preserved building is a stone-made warehouse dating back to the 14th century. Today the manor is privately owned.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Klis Fortress

From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.

Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.

In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.

Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.