Visby Things to Do

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    Fiskargrand

    by MikeAtSea Written Aug 11, 2007

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    This is redoubtably my favourite lane in Visby. Translated it means Fishermen's lane since in the medieval times fishermen had their business' here. At the time a rather smelly lane :-) Somehow to improve the "smell" roses were planted and today they nestle and lean on every house - making this lane the most photographed lane in Visby.

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    The Ringmuren

    by MikeAtSea Written Aug 11, 2007

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    The town walls that surround Visby stretch for 3.5km. They are riddled with medieval gates and towers. There is both a land-wall and a sea-wall, the latter 5.3m tall. It was built as a fortification in the late 1200’s.

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    Domkyrkan (Cathedral Of St. Mary)

    by MikeAtSea Written Aug 11, 2007

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    In the heyday of its power and glory, little Visby boasted 17 churches. Only one today, Domkyrkan (Cathedral of St. Mary), is in use. Found at Kyrkberget, it was dedicated in 1225 and was built with funds collected by German merchant ships. Pope Clement VI in Avignon gave his permission to build the so-called Swertingska chapel in 1349.
    The church was damaged in four serious fires: 1400, 1586, 1610, and 1744. It attained its status as a cathedral in 1572. The only original fixture left is a sandstone font from the 1200’s. The landmarks of Visby are the two towers of the church. The tower at the western front is square, whereas two slimmer ones appear on the east.

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    The Tar Makers'

    by Sjalen Updated Aug 9, 2007

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    Again, this house doesn't look Swedish but like something from the Med. In Swedish it is called "Tjärkokeriet", the "tar boilery" and that is what was done here. If you want to see the inside close up, you can borrow a key for a deposit at the County museum.

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    Kajsartornet

    by Sjalen Updated Aug 9, 2007

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    The wonderful Gotland language means spelling is a peculiar mix and this is in fact the "Kaiser Tower" in pure German :))) It would have been Kejsartornet in ordinary Swedish so you see how Swedish and German are mixed on this island. Sometimes with a bit of English thrown in for good measure.

    This tower from the 13th century has been used as a prison between 1681-1849 and can be visited daytime in summer for a small entrance fee. There is an exhibition on the view of punishments in bygone days inside it. In the beginning, there was no opening in the wall here but that happened when a local 19th century lady wanted easier access to her cattle fields outside the wall and appealed to the authorities. Some people...:)))

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    Lummelunda caves

    by Sjalen Updated Aug 8, 2007

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    The real entrance

    Lummelunda 13 kilometres north of Visby has some of Sweden's biggest caves which were discovered in the 1950s by some local teenagers. You can only visit a bit more than 100 metres of the 4,5 kilometres as the rest are for cave explorers only, with the exception of a bit which is shown to those taking the Adventure tour including a short boat trip and dive further in but which has to be booked in advance. The rest of us are shown a small but nevertheless impressive part of the caves, including the stalagmites known as Jesus and Mary. Our tour only had Scandinavians on it so I'm not sure if tours are given in English but I am sure that you will still enjoy the 20-30 minutes in the underground and that the guide can still explain things to you. The teenagers who discovered it entered a different way to the now arranged visitors entrance and you can also visit the real entrance seen in these pictures but not enter as it is too narrow for adults. On the way there you will also see a famous stone stack (rauk). The limestone caves have been eroded in this way thanks to the stream flowing through here from the swamps at nearby Martebo and lots of rare cave creatures live inside although to you and me it all seems empty of everything but stalagmites and stalagtites. In the barn opposite the entrance is Silurium, a small exhibition on the local geology which is for free with a cave ticket.

    The caves are at Lummelunda mansion which once had a huge watermill for paper and flour, and which is still up and running, claiming to be the biggest in northern Europe and it IS impressive in its museum with a symbolic entry fee. You can also have a coffee here, buy souvenirs or walk the grounds down to the sea or up to the nature reserve. VT has not so much as a village listed in the local parish so the rest of my Lummelunda pictures are as a travelogue below.

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    Pippi Longstocking

    by Sjalen Updated Aug 8, 2007

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    The Pippi films were mostly shot in Visby and its surroundings so if you are a fan, don't wonder why you recognise the odd street corner even if shop fronts and so on have changed. A classic is in the first film when Pippi moves in at Villa Villerkulla, the colourful house, and comes riding through a city gate. The house itself was found when SF, the film makers were out looking for the perfect house for shooting at and found this hidden in a military area just outside Visby.

    After the films were shot, the army wanted to tear Villa Villerkulla down but then it was rescued by a local who bought it and transported it to the nearby Kneippbyn park three kilometres or so away. That is where you still find it today, even if I am sure that I've read somewhere that this is an exact copy after a fire years ago. Around it, Kneippbyn has now turned into a full blown family park and it costs quite a bit to go in, but if you have children or like swimming pools it could be worth it (see my Kneippbyn page). The house had nothing much in it anymore, until some years ago when it was restyled to look like in the films again so visitors would recognise things.

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    Kruttornet and Fiskarporten

    by Sjalen Written Aug 7, 2007

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    The Gunpowder Tower and the Fishermens Gate lie side by side down by the seafront. Just follow Strandgatan and you will find them. The tower was of course where gunpowder was stored. Continue a nice little walk here and you will get to the famous little Botanical Gardens.

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    S:t Hans and S:t Per

    by Sjalen Written Aug 7, 2007

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    The two churches of St Hans and St Per were built adjacent to one another and today you really have to walk around the grounds here to tell them apart. They are easy to find and there is a little signpost in the corner of the street describing what it is you are looking at.

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    Norderport

    by Sjalen Updated Aug 7, 2007

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    The northern city gate is my favourite. Perhaps it is because it is the one which mostly resembles the York bars I have come to love, but perhaps also due to the seaside views you get near it (second pic) and the good views looking back to it from inside, with Visby cottages lining the way such as in this picture.

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    Gotlands Fornsal

    by Sjalen Updated Aug 7, 2007

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    A major reason to visit Visby for anyone interested in Scandinavian history! Gotlands Fornsal is the Visby part of the Gotland County Museum and its prime exhibits are on the ground floor in the form of stunning Iron age "pictorial stones", like Viking stones but with pictures rather than runes to tell a story. They tell of both religion, adventures and life at home, and some include fascinating whirl symbols. Then there is the main picture here where the stone has the cultural heritage "H" sign on it, so now you know where that originated.

    The museum also has a section on Viking life consisting of exhibits dug out on Gotland such as tools, equestrian items, graves and even proof that there was trade with the Romans on the island. Then you go on to Medieval Visby and on to the arrival of the Danes in rooms dedicated to the building of the wall, battles and such. The other main reason comes almost last: the Treasury. Here you will find the largest Viking silver hoard ever found in Europe and other treasures, old coins from Europe and the Middle East and so on found on Gotland. Apart from all this, there are exhibitions on medieval merchant halls, furniture, churches and other things.

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    S:ta Katarina

    by Sjalen Updated Aug 7, 2007

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    The major church ruin in the city as it is so central, next to the main square and you are sure to stumble upon it without effort. S:ta Katarina, or Karin as it is sometimes known, started off as a Fransiscan monastery in 1233, only a decade after the Pope agreed to St Francis of Assisi's ideas. It was then extended in the mid 14th century to look more like nearby St Nicolai. You can see most ruins inside between 11-17 summertime, and this one makes particular sense to visit since it has a small exhibition on the Visby ruins in general. It is thought that St:a Katarina had around 13 monks since that was the normal number all over Europe, and they lived in total poverty, saving souls around the city.

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    Johan Målares Hus

    by Sjalen Written Aug 7, 2007

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    "Johan the Painter" was a 17th century artist living in this house next to the cathedral and honestly, you'd think you were on Mallorca rather than in Sweden when looking at it. The ground floor is open summertime.

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    Helge And

    by Sjalen Written Aug 7, 2007

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    Yes, I'm afraid it is yet another ruin, but this time it is a quite interesting one in that it is unusual. Not much is left of it, but what is left is the octagonal piece and that is what makes it special. Only Lärbro Church, also on Gotland, and Trondheim Cathedral have a similar design. The "Wholy Spirit" as its English name would be belonged to Visby's medieval hospital.

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    Burmeister House

    by Sjalen Updated Aug 7, 2007

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    Built for merchant Hans Burmeister from Lübeck in the mid 1600s, this is one of the prettiest houses in Visby. It is built in a typically Swedish style for the time and Burmeister had his shop on the groundfloor whilst residing above where you can now see wallpaintings of animals and events of the time by the old master Johan Bartsch if you manage to see it during opening hours.

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