Medieval castles in Sweden

Malmö Castle

Malmö Castle (Malmöhus) was founded in 1434 by King Eric of Pomerania. This structure was demolished in early 16th century. The castle acquired its present appearance following major reconstruction in the 1530’s, when King Christian III ordered the building of a modern fortress, splendid Renaissance castle and county governor´s residence, all on the one site. Historically, this fortress was one of th ...
Founded: 1434 | Location: Malmö, Sweden

Örebro Castle

For over 700 years Örebro Castle has kept a watchful eye on everyone crossing the bridge on the River Svartån. The oldest part of the castle, a defence tower, was erected in the latter half of the 13th century. This tower was added to in the 14th century to make a larger stronghold. The castle was expanded during the reign of the royal family Vasa between 1573-1627 to the impressive Renaissance castle. After Vasa famil ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Örebro, Sweden

Bohus Fortress

Bohus Fortress construction began in 1308 under King Haakon V Magnuson, king of Norway from 1299 until 1319. At the time Bohuslän was Norwegian territory and it served as a main Norwegian defence against Sweden along the coast as well as the strong point for the Bohuslän region from 1308 until 1658. According to architect Guthorm Kavli, by 1310 records show it was constructed, as normal for that period, out of ...
Founded: 1308 | Location: Kungälv, Sweden

Borgholm Castle

Borgholm Castle is today only a ruin of the fortress that was first built in the second half of the 12th century and many times rebuilt in later centuries. The construction of the original fortress was probably ordered by king Canute I (1167-1195), who ordered fortresses to be built on the Swedish east coast as defence against enemies from the other side of the Baltic Sea. During the 13th to 15th centuries, additions and ...
Founded: 1654, originally in 1100s | Location: Borgholm, Öland, Sweden

St. Peter's Priory

St. Peter's Priory (Sankt Peters Klosters kyrka) was one of Denmark's early monastic houses. It was established before 1166 during the tenure of Eskil, Archbishop of Lund, for Benedictine nuns. It was originally dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint Peter, but by 1200 it was simply referred to as St. Peter's Priory. The original church was built in the latter half of the 1160s of sandstone with the rounded arches of the Roman ...
Founded: 1160s | Location: Lund, Sweden

Linköping Castle

Linköping Castle is Sweden"s oldest profane building. The oldest part, west wing, dates from the 12th century. Currently the residence of the County Governor of Östergötland, the castle has been home to governors and bishops since the 13th century. The most famous bishop to live in castle was probably Hans Brask, Sweden"s last Catholic bishop. The Linköping Bloodbath, the public execution by ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Linköping, Sweden

Kalmar Castle

The first defensive construction, a round tower, was built on Kalmarsund in the 12th century concurrently with the harbour. At the end of the 13th century King Magnus Ladulås had a new fortress built with a curtain wall, round corner towers and two square gatehouses surrounding the original tower. Located near the site of Kalmar's medieval harbor, it has played a crucial part in Swedish history since its initial construc ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kalmar, Sweden

Varberg Fortress

Varberg Fortress was built in 1287-1300 by count Jacob Nielsen as protection against his Danish king, who had declared him an outlaw after the murder of King Eric V of Denmark. Jacob had close connections with king Eric II of Norway and as a result got substantial Norwegian assistance with the construction. The fortress, as well as half the county, became Norwegian in 1305. King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håka ...
Founded: 1287-1300 | Location: Varberg, Sweden

Västerås Castle

Västerås Castle was built in the 13th century. The castle taken over by Gustav Vasa was in poor condition after battles and sieges so during the middle of the 16th century he altered and extended it. In 1544 the government gave the Crown Prince, Prince Erik, his own quarters in the castle, “The Young Man’s Apartment”. Later the castle was to be his prison. From 14 June 1573 to 16 October 1574 Erik XIV was impriso ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Västerås, Sweden

Läckö Castle

Brynolf Algotsson, Bishop of Skara, laid the foundations for a fortified castle in Läckö in 1298 originally as a fort that consisted of two or three houses surrounded by a wall. After a fire during the 1470s, the fort was expanded by bishop Brynolf Gerlachsson. After the reformation in 1527, King Gustav Vasa took possession. Field Marshal Jacob Pontusson De la Gardie was granted the property in 1615. Field Mars ...
Founded: 1298 | Location: Lidköping, Sweden

Nyköping Castle

Nyköping Castle is a medieval castle from the Birger Jarl era, partly in ruins. The castle is mostly known for the ghastly Nyköping Banquet which took place here in 1317. The construction of the castle began in the end of the 12th century, when it began as a fortification. It is thought Birger Jarl expanded the building to a larger castle. During the reign of Albert of Sweden the castle was held as a fief by the German ...
Founded: 1317 | Location: Nyköping, Sweden

Hovdala Castle

The oldest parts of Hovdala castle date from the 16th century, although it was first time mentioned already in the 12th century. There are so-called anchoring irons visible on the facade of one of the buildings are marked with the date 1511. Hovdala's gate tower, built in the early 1600's, served as a formidable entrance for the complex. This four-storey structure, with three-foot walls, withstood intensive fighting durin ...
Founded: ca. 1511 | Location: Hässleholm, Sweden

Glimmingehus

Glimmingehus, is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the noble ...
Founded: 1499-1506 | Location: Hammenhög, Sweden

Torup Castle

Torup Castle, completed around 1540, is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Sweden. It was built by Görvel Fadersdotter (Sparre). Torup Castle was restored between 1602-1630 to the the appearance it has today. Later Torup was owned by Stjernblad and Coyet families and since 1970 the Malmö municipality. On May 21, 1775 a tragic accident occured at Torup Castle. Cornet Fredrich Trolle along with his aun ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Svedala, Sweden

Kronoberg Castle Ruins

Kronoberg Castle is a medieval ruin located on an island in lake Helgasjön. In 1444 Lars Mikaelson, the bishop of Växjö, built a stone building on the lakeshore. During the Dano-Swedish War of 1470-1471, Danish forces destroyed the house. It was reconstructed and fortified after peace was restored in 1472. During the Swedish Reformation the castle and its estate were confiscated by Gustav Vasa. In 1542, during the Dac ...
Founded: 1472 | Location: Växjö, Sweden

Ragnhildsholmen

Ragnhildsholmen was a medieval castle built by Håkon Håkonsson (Haakon IV) of Norway around the year 1250. The castle was first time mentioned in 1275. In 1304 it was donated to duke Erik in 1304 and saw the power struggle between Swedish Kings Birger and Magnus III. After the near Bohus Fortress completed, Ragnhildsholmen lost its purpose. It was demolished and stones were probably used to build Bohus. Today ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Kungälv, Sweden

Stegeborg Castle Ruins

The remains of the Stegeborg castle are situated beautifully on a little island in the sea channel leading toward Söderköping. In the Middle Ages the castle was one of the most important strongholds in Sweden and also a royal palace. The oldest parts of the castle is a brick tower in the southeast corner, built in the early 13th century. In the 18th century the castle was in bad shape and some wooden buildings ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Söderköping, Sweden

Torpa Stenhus

Torpa stenhus is a well preserved medieval castle near Åsunden. The first stone house was built around 1470 by Privy Council Arvid Knutsson as fortress against the Danes. Reconstruction and remodeling took during the 1500s and 1600s. In the late 1500s the castle was enlarged and modernized: the 4th floor was added, the tower was erected and halls were decorated with beautiful paintings. The castle has still today a well- ...
Founded: 1470 | Location: Länghem, Sweden

Stegeholm Castle Ruins

Stegeholm's Castle Ruin is located on Slottsholmen by the mouth of Gamlebyviken. The oldest notes about Stegeholms castle are from the 14th century. It was probably built before 1370 by Albert II, Duke of Mecklenburg (the father of King Albert of Sweden). The castle was destroyed by fire in 1517 and rebuilt in 1521. In 1612 it was conquered by Danish. The final destruction appeared in 1677 when Stegeholm was destroyed by ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Västervik, Sweden

Bollerup Castle

The Bollerup estate was first time mentioned in 1130. The castle was built in the end of 15th century. The present living quarters were built in the 1840s. It lies on an islet and is surrounded by a moat. Bollerup has been owned by several families like Thott, Gjöe and Rantzau. Today it houses the Bollerup Agricultural Institute. Guided tours of the fort, grounds, stables and church are available during the summer.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Tomelilla, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.