Friday, 13 April 2012



Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden by population and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries. Situated on the west coast of Sweden, the city proper has a population of 519,399, with 549,839 in the urban area and total of 937,015 inhabitants in the metropolitan area. The City of Gothenburg was founded in 1621 by King Gustavus Adolphus. It lies by the sea at the mouth of Göta Älv—the river running through the city—and is the largest seaport in the Nordic countries.

In the 16th and 17th century, the configuration of Sweden's borders made Gothenburg strategically important as the Swedish gateway to the west, lying on the west coast in the narrow area between the territories of Denmark–Norway. After several failed attempts, Gothenburg was successfully founded in 1621 by King Gustavus Adolphus (Gustaf II Adolf). The site of the first church built in Gothenburg, subsequently destroyed by Dutch invaders, is marked by a stone near the north end of the Älvsborg Bridge in Färjenäs park. The church was built in 1603 and destroyed in 1611. The city was heavily influenced by the Dutch and Dutch city planners were contracted to build the city as they had the skills needed to build in the marshy areas around the city. 

Along with the Dutch, the town also was influenced by Scots who came to settle in Gothenburg. Many became people of high profile. William Chalmers was the son of a Scottish immigrant and donated his fortunes to set up what later became Chalmers University of Technology. In 1841 the Scotsman Alexander Keiller founded the Götaverken shipbuilding company that still exists today. His son James Keiller donated Keiller Park to the city in 1906. The Scottish influence can still be felt in Gothenburg in the present-day with names like Glenn and Morgan, which in the rest of Sweden are rare, are not uncommon in Gothenburg, as is the use of a Scottish sounding "r" in the local dialect. 

Oscar Fredrik Church
There are very few houses left from the 17th century when the city was founded, since all but the military and royal houses were built of wood. The first major architecturally interesting period is the 18th century when the East India Company made Gothenburg an important trade city. Imposing stone houses with a Classical look were erected around the canals. One example from this period is the East India House, which today houses Gothenburg’s City Museum.

Gothenburg is undergoing a transformation from industrial seaport to contemporary cultural and international sports venue. With the addition of the Gothenburg Opera in 1994 and a revamping of some of the city’s museums, its cultural landscape is also changing – all for the better. Perhaps the most surprising change in Gothenburg is in its restaurants and other eateries. The city has gained an international reputation for innovative cuisine using local produce, mainly north Atlantic fish and shellfish.  In the past decade, the city has gone from nowhere to being cited as one of Northern Europe´s most exciting culinary destinations, prominently publicized in the New York Times and many other leading international media. Of the star chefs who have been crowned Chef of the Year in Sweden over the past ten years, no less than seven have come from Gothenburg. 

New Älvsborgs Fortress
Those who want to indulge in a true feast of supreme quality seafood, prepared in prime Swedish fashion, may opt for the classic Sjömagasinet dining room overlooking the Göta Älv river or Fiskekrogen in the City Centre. For highly creative contemporary frontline gastronomy, 28+, Fond, Kock & Vin, Basement, Thörnströms Kök and Swedish Taste to name a few elegant eateries which are ranked among Sweden´s top notch restaurants. There are also a large number of charming restaurants, brasseries and bistros in the mid price and budget categories spread out around the city, including Caleo, Hos Pelle, Familjen, Bon and the classic meeting place Brasserie Lipp on the Avenyn boulevard.

If you want to take home some of the famed west coast seafood delicacies – and even if you don´t – you shouldn´t miss a visit to the famous Feskekörka fish market, housed in an original old storage building resembling a church, where you´ll also find the popular restaurant Gabriel, offering a generous fare of excellent quality fish and seafood. The beautiful Saluhallen food market, opened in 1889, is another attractive venue for gastronomic shopping.


                                                       Gothenburg’s Top 5:
  1. The Gothenburg Cathedral. The cathedral is the seat of the bishop in the Church of Sweden diocese of Gothenburg. Before the first cathedral was inaugurated in 1633, the temporary Gothenburg stave church had stood on the property for no more than about 12 years. It had been one of the first buildings in the city and the first church in the current Gothenburg. When a new church was to be built on the site, King Gustavus Adolphus decreed in 1627 a tax, the proceeds of which would be used for church construction. The initial demand was for a barrel (just over 125 litres) of wheat, oats, barley or rye from each church-owned property (kyrkohemman) in Västergötland for a three-year period. In a letter to Gothenburg's town council (13 December 1629) the impost was continued for a further three years.
    By 1633, the stave church had been torn down to make way for the new church building, although its separate tower remained in use as a guard tower. 
     Church construction was led by master mason Lars Nilsson. The foundation stone for the new church was laid by Gothenburg'sjustitiepresident (judge) Nils Börjesson Drakenberg, on 19 June 1626, and in 1633 the new main building was complete. During the construction period and for some time subsequently, the church was called stora kyrkan(the "great church").
  2. Oscar Fredrik Church. was drawn by Helgo Zetterwall and erected in the 1890s. The style is Neo Gothic, but the influence is not the Nordic gothic style but rather the style one can find in the large cathedrals down in continental Europe. The church and the parish got its name from king Oscar II (Oscar Fredrik being his full name).
  3. Haga.  is a city district renowned for its picturesque wooden houses, 19th century-atmosphere and cafés. Originally a working class suburb of the city with a rather bad reputation, it was gradually transformed into a popular visiting place for tourists and Gothenburgers. A major renovation of the area was made in the 1980s, houses were either renovated or torn down and replaced by post-modernistic replicas. Today, Haga has a population of about 4,000 people (4,093 at 2006) a much smaller population compared to 15,000 people one hundred years ago – an indication of the gentrification the district has gone through. Haga is also a parish with the same borders as the city district. It is, areawise, the smallest parish in Sweden.
  4. New Älvsborgs Fortress.  At the mouth of the Göta River, where the archipelago begins, lies New Älvsborgs Fortress. It may be the best preserved fortress in Sweden. During the war with Denmark in 1717-1719 the fortress was besieged time after time without being occupied. Today it is one of the most popular days out in Gothenburg.
    This well-preserved fortress dating from the mid-seventeenth century is one of the most popular destinations for a day out on the west coast of Sweden, with its thrilling tales of dungeons, battles with the Danes and its tiny hospital.
  5. Liseberg. Opened in 1923, Liseberg is one of the most visited amusement parks in Scandinavia, attracting around 3 million visitors annually. Among the noteworthy attractions is the wooden roller coaster Balder, voted twice (2003 and 2005) as the Best Wooden Tracked Roller Coaster in the world in a major international poll. The park itself has also been chosen as one of the top ten amusement parks in the world (2005) by Forbes Magazine. Additional to the summer season, the park is also open during November and December, albeit with fewer rides operating, hosting a Christmas market with traditional Swedish cuisinesuch as mulled wine and specialties such as döner kebab made from reindeer meat.


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