Top historic sites in Gothenburg

Gustav Adolf Square

Gustaf Adolf's square is a located in central Gothenburg. It was named Stortorget (the Big square) until 1854 when a statue was raised over the founding father of Gothenburg, king Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. Surrounding the square you can find Gothenburg City Hall, the law court (by Gunnar Asplund), and the main canal of Gothenburg. The City Hall is designed by Bengt Wilhelm Carlberg and completed in 1759. The former st ...
Founded: | Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Kronhuset

The old Kronhuset (the Crown House) behind the Gustav Adolf Square is one of the oldest buildings in Gothenburg. It was built in 1642-1654 as a storehouse for military uniforms and other military equipment. Now it is a living craft center in historic buildings. Around Kronhuset is Kronhusbodarna (the Crown House Sheds).The west wing served as carriage storage and warehouse, and was built around 1750 after the previous wo ...
Founded: 1642-1654 | Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg Cathedral

Gothenburg Cathedral (Gustavi domkyrka or Göteborgs domkyrka) lies near the heart of the city. The cathedral was built in 1815 and replaced an earlier cathedral built in the 17th century. The architect was Carl Willhelm Carlberg. The cathedral is a fine example of neoclassical architecture. It is one of the top tourist destinations in the city. The Cathedral acts as a venue for a wide range of classical concerts and reci ...
Founded: 1815 | Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

East India Company House

The old East India Company House (now the City Museum) was once the hub of Sweden's trade with the Far East. Most seafaring nations in the 18th century had an East India company which held a monopoly on trade with the East. Scottish merchants were not part of the lucrative dealings of the English, so Scot Colin Campbell, in association with Niclas Sahlgren in Gothenburg, devised an idea for a Swedish East India Company, w ...
Founded: 1750-1762 | Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Skansen Kronan

Skansen Kronan is a redoubt built in the later half of the 17th century according to the plans of Erik Dahlberg. Skansen Kronan was introduced in 1698 and was fitted with 23 guns. The roof was not completed until 1700. Skansen has 4-5 metre thick walls made of granite, gneiss and diabase. Skansen Kronan was never attacked and the cannons on the inside have never been used. The fortress and the twin counterpart, Skansen L ...
Founded: 1698 | Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Älvsborg Castle

Älvsborg, also Elfsborg Fortress, is a sea fortress situated on the mouth of the Göta Älv river. It served to protect Sweden's access to the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby settlement of today's Gothenburg and its four predecessors. The fortress was relocated in the 17th century, this New Älvsborg Fortress is still maintained. Of the Old Älvsborg Fortress, only few ruins are visible today in the vicinity of the Carnegi ...
Founded: 1621 | Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.