Top historic sites in Gotland

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

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. 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

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

Roma Abbey Ruins

Roma Abbey was built in 1164 by Cistercian monks. The monks established a religious and agricultural centre for the entire Baltic Sea region. After the Reformation in the early 16th century, the monastery was abandoned. It was then under the Danish Crown. The monastery building was partly demolished and the church was used as a stable. In 1645, through the peace treaty in Brömsebro, Gotland became Swedish again. In ...
Founded: 1164 | Location: Romakloster, Sweden

Gålrum Burial Ground

Gålrum is an ancient burial ground including 122 ancient monuments. There are 5 large stone cairns, 110 round stone settings and 8 ship settings. The site was in use for 1500 years and reflects the differing burial styles over that long period of time with the earliest dating back to the Bronze Age around 1500 BC. The cairns vary in size from 10 metres to 25 metres in diameter and mostly have perimeter stones aroun ...
Founded: 1500 BC - 100 AD | Location: Gålrum, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.