Visby


Click for larger image

Visby, on the island of Gotland, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 for it’s well-preserved medieval structures, include a mostly intact 2.1m (3.4 km) 12th-century wall and a number of church ruins, the majority dating to the 12th century. Walking around the main town, packed on steep, narrow and winding streets within the old city walls, feels like stepping back into the medieval ages.

Visby was high on our list of places to visit, and we’d planned to take Dirona there, but the weather didn’t cooperate when we were in the area so we instead made an overnight trip from Nynashamn by ferry. We spent a fabulous two days there, exploring the town and church ruins, visiting the excellent Gotland Museum and of course, walking the entirety of the wall.

Below are trip highlights from April 13th and 14th in Visby, on the island of Gotland in Sweden. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps

4/13/2019
Click for larger image
Visby Arriving
The Destination Gotland ferry Visby arriving into Nynashamn. We’ll be on board when it departs for Gotland later this morning.
Click for larger image
Pate-sicle
Cat food frozen into a “pate-sicle” for Spitfire to eat while we’re away for a night on Gotland.
Click for larger image
Car Traffic
Cars getting ready to load onto the ferry to Visby. The ferry is 100% booked today—we watched them load and completely fill both car decks.
Click for larger image
Foot Traffic
Waiting with the other passengers to board our ferry to Gotland.
Click for larger image
Nynashamn Guest Harbour
The Nynashamn Guest Harbour viewed from the ferry Visby, with Dirona just right of center. The marina is lightly occupied now in the off-season, but this picture shows how packed it can be in the summer. The large breakwater to the left is full, with boats rafted three deep in places, and boats are moored bow-to the dock where we currently are side-tied.
Click for larger image
Cruise Ship Ramp
A folding cruise ship boarding ramp, similar to what we saw at Geirangerfjord in Norway last year.
Click for larger image
Mining Trucks
Mining trucks working a huge pile just north of Nynashamn, probably fuel for the nearby heat and power plant.
Click for larger image
Underway
Celebrating being underway for Gotland with a Visby-brewed Sleepy Bulldog Pale Ale. We’re super-excited about the trip as we really wanted to visit Visby. We’d planned to go by boat from the Vastervik area on the mainland directly to the west, but the weather didn’t cooperate, so we continued north. The 1500-passenger ferry was completely booked, except for the day cabins, so we enjoyed the 3:15 run in our own private room.
Click for larger image
Visby
Our first view to Visby on Gotland. The town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 for it’s well-preserved medieval structures, include a mostly intact 2.1m (3.4 km) 12th-century wall and a number of church ruins, most dating to the 12th century. The wall and one of its towers is visible at the lower left of the picture, Visby Cathedral, built in the 12th and 13th centuries is prominent slightly left of center and two church ruins are at the center and far right.
Click for larger image
Clarion Hotel Wisby
Our home for the night, the Clarion Hotel Wisby, inside the city walls.
Click for larger image
Wall
Jennifer standing in an archway that goes through the wall at the southwest corner. We loved how the city had evolved inside the wall, with more modern buildings constructed right up against it, becoming almost a part of the wall.
Click for larger image
Soldiers
We passed through the wall to the outside and noticed camouflaged figures with guns overlooking the harbour. We initially thought they were manikins placed there to depict more modern defense techniques, until one of them moved quite close to us. That was a surprise. They told us they were on a training exercise and we saw dozens more as we walked about outside the wall.
Click for larger image
Windmill
Historic windmill, one of several outside the Visby walls.
Click for larger image
Visby Departing
The ferry we arrived on, the Visby, departing for Nynashamn. The captains do an amazing job maneuvering the huge ships in very tight quarters.
Click for larger image
Saddle Tower
One of the nine remaining saddle towers from the 22 originally built into the wall.
Click for larger image
Sodra Murgatan
Walking along Sodra Murgatan just inside the Visby wall.
Click for larger image
Smittens Backe
Centuries-old buildings along narrow Smittens Backe.
Click for larger image
St. Catherine’s Ruin
St. Catherine’s ruin, overlooking the Visby Town Square, is one of the most beautiful of the town’s church ruins. Construction of the church began in early 13th century and the structure was abandoned in the 1520s after the Franciscan convent that built it disbanded.
Click for larger image
Atrium
We stopped off for a drink in the fabulous atrium of our hotel, the Clarion Wisby. The left side of the room is a centuries-old stone wall with a glass roof enclosing and connecting it to the hotel. We loved it.
Click for larger image
Eden
Eden, along the Visby Town Square, where we will have dinner.
Click for larger image
Sunset
Fabulous sunset looking across the Visby Town Square to the St. Catherine’s church ruin.
Click for larger image
Tapas
A delicious tapas selection for dinner at Eden in Visby.
Click for larger image
Taps
Local microbrews on tap at Brygghuset Visby. At least five breweries operate on the island of Gotland.
4/14/2019
Click for larger image
Hotel Room View
Visby from our window at the Clarion Hotel Wisby.
Click for larger image
Stril Explorer
The 250 ft Norwegian Offshore Supply Ship Stril Explorer home ported in Hammerfest Norway, that we visited last year.
Click for larger image
Almedalen Park
Looking to Visby from Almedalen Park as we set off for a walk around the town wall.
Click for larger image
Gunpowder Tower
The Gunpowder Tower is the oldest in the wall and one of the oldest surviving secular buildings in Scandinavia, likely dating from the mid-12th century. Work on the Town Wall began sometime in the 13th century, and this tower was incorporated as one of the 29 wall towers. The tower was a powder magazine in the 18th century, which is how it got its name.
Click for larger image
Love Gate
In medieval times, ropes were tarred near this gate and the word for tar in Swedish sounds a bit like the beginning of the Swedish word for love, hence the name.
Click for larger image
Wall Model
A model of the northwest corner of the Visby Town Wall, including the Silver Cap at right and the Snackgard’s Gate at left.
Click for larger image
Silver Cap
The Silver Cap at the northwest corner of the Town Wall, viewed from the Snackgard’s Gate. The old Sentry Walk here has been restored and is open to the public. Stairs lead up to the Silver Cap and beyond to the Snackgard’s Gate.
Click for larger image
Visby looking South
Great view to Visby looking south from the top of the Snackgard’s Gate.
Click for larger image
Saddle Tower
The oldest and smallest of the saddle towers in the wall. 22 saddle towers were built, but only 9 remain. Snackgard’s Gate is at the far right of the picture.
Click for larger image
North Gate
The North Gate is one of the oldest towers in the wall, dating to around 1280.
Click for larger image
St. George’s Ruin
St. George’s was a church and hospital for lepers outside the city walls to protect Visby from the infected. The church likely was built in the late 12th or early 13th century.
Click for larger image
Dalman Tower
The Dalman Tower was built over an original gateway in the oldest wall, still visible in the gateway arch. The 17m building also served as a navigation mark for the medieval port. It was walled up and roofed over in the late 18th century for use as a granary.
Click for larger image
East Gate
The East Gate was one of three main gates in the wall, and was probably built in the late 13th century.
Click for larger image
Kaisar Tower
The view south down the wall from stairs up the Kaiser Tower that once served as a prison.
Click for larger image
Adelsgatan
Looking down Adelsgatan from just inside the South Gate.
Click for larger image
Walking Wall
The only portion of the wall that is walkable is at the extreme south end.
Click for larger image
Skeppargatan
Looking along Skeppargatan from atop the wall at the south end.
Click for larger image
Visborg Castle
Model of Visborg Castle in Slottsparken. The castle once stood at the southwest corner of the wall, but was destroyed when the Danish invaded in 1679.
Click for larger image
Breakfast
We’d gotten an early start to the day and returned to the hotel just in time for a Hobbit’s “second breakfast” at the Clarion Wisby atrium. We had a short but good stay here, and particularly enjoyed the atrium. We stopped back in again later in the day before our ferry home.
Click for larger image
Strandgatan
Medieval building on Strandgatan.
Click for larger image
Picture Stones
The excellent Gotland Museum has a large collection of pre-Viking picture stones. These date from the 5th to 7th centuries.
Click for larger image
Hedgehog Girl
Stone Age skeletons at the Gotland Museum. Those on the left are called the Hedgehog Girl because the young woman was buried in a cap made of hedgehog spines.
Click for larger image
Church Artifacts
A large display of historic church artifacts at the Gotland Museum.
Click for larger image
Armor
Medieval armor hanging on the original door from the East Gate of the Visby Town Wall. We really enjoyed our visit to the museum—it was much larger than we were expecting and the presentations and displays were very well done.
Click for larger image
Silver Hoard
Visby was a major, and wealthy, Hanseatic port in medieval times. But the Vikings that controlled the island before that were exceptionally wealthy. More than 700 silver hoards have been found on the island, the most impressive being the Spillings Hoard. Found in 1999 on the Spillings farm in northern Gotland, it is the world’s largest Viking treasure. The hoard weighed 148 lb (67 kg) before conservation and included 14,295 coins.
Click for larger image
Visby Cat
One of the local Visby cats on the prowl.
Click for larger image
Cobblestones
Looking up one of Visby’s picturesque cobblestone streets.
Click for larger image
Drotten Ruin
Drotten Church was built in the 13th century and dedicated to the Holy Trinity. It was abandoned at the Reformation in the 16th century.
Click for larger image
St. Lawrence’s Ruin
St. Lawrence’s Church, dedicated to St. Lawrence, was built in the 13th century across from Drotten Church. It also was abandoned at the Reformation in the 16th century.
Click for larger image
Town Square
A number of people were out having a drink along the Visby Town Square, enjoying the cold but sunny mid-April weather. We couldn’t resist joining them.
Click for larger image
Visby Cathedral
Spectacular Visby Cathedral was built in the 12th and 13th centuries by and for wealthy German traders.
Click for larger image
Organ
The Visby Cathedral organ.
Click for larger image
Sculpture
Ornate sculptures on the exterior of Visby Cathedral.
Click for larger image
Kyrkberget
The view southwest across Visby to the port from Kyrkberget above Visby Cathedral.
Click for larger image
Visby Cathedral Exterior
Visby Cathedral viewed from the park Kyrkberget.
Click for larger image
St. Nicholas’ Ruin
St. Nicholas’ Church dates to 1227 and was originally part of the Dominican monastery. In modern times, a glass roof has been added and the floor paved with limestone and the facility is commonly used to hold concerts. A sign out front offers to “rent a ruin”.
Click for larger image
St. Clemen’s Ruin
St. Clemen’s Church was built about 1060 and is one of the oldest church ruins in Visby.
Click for larger image
St. Olaf’s Ruin
St. Olaf’s Church was built around 1240 as a German parish church to replace St. Nicholas’ that was taken over by the Dominican Order. It was abandoned after the Reformation in the 16th century.
Click for larger image
Helge Ands Ruin
Helgo Ands Church was built in 1200 in an octagonal style that is unique in Sweden. After a fire partially destroyed the upper levels, what remained of the building was converted to a cow shed.
Click for larger image
Gotlands Bryggeri
Gotlands Bryggeri in Visby, one of at least five breweries on Gotland.
Click for larger image
St. Peter and St. Hans Ruin
The two churches St. Pers and St. Hans were both built in the 13th century and joined together to form a single complex.
Click for larger image
Atrium Wall
The outside of the stone wall that forms one side of the atrium at the Clarion Hotel Wisby.
Click for larger image
Forward Cabin
We had an exceptional time in Visby and were really glad we found a way to visit. We had economy tickets for the return trip, but enjoyed the cabin so much on the outbound journey that we upgraded on the return and requested one forward-facing.
Click for larger image
Backing Out
Looking across the bow of the Visby as it backs out from the dock. The skippers really do an amazing job in such tight quarters.
Click for larger image
Sunset
Sunset looking across Landsort at the southern tip of the Stockholm Archipelago, viewed on the ferry from Gotland nears Nynashamn.
Click for larger image
Refinery
Refineries always look great at night.
Click for larger image
Nynashamn
Nynashamn at night, viewed from our ferry as we arrive back from Gotland. Dirona is lit in blue at the center of the picture.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


If your comment doesn't show up right away, send us email and we'll dredge it out of the spam filter.


6 comments on “Visby
  1. Dan McCarty says:

    By some weird Internet magic, last weekend I found a program on YouTube called Medieval Dead which is good program about archaeology at various historical sites. One of these was about a battle/slaughter at Masterby, Gotland, before a second battle/slaughter at the walls of Visby. I happened to watch one of the videos and then read your post of visiting the town.

    Short history was the Danes invaded and wiped out the local Gotlanders at Masterby and then marched to Visby. Another group of Gotlander militia was not allowed into Visby and the Dane’s killed them all in a battle outside the town gates.

    The town of Visby was not inhabited by native people of Gotland but by traders from around the Baltic. They used the town walls as protection but also as a way of taxing the native Gotlanders who wised to trade with the town.

    Visby paid a ransom and surrendered to the Danes.

    The first show about Masterby is here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta_Gd4Fgxpw and the show about Visby is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vQOZA1T64s.

    Ya’ll might enjoy these videos when you get to a place where you can stream video.

    Enjoy,
    Dan

    • Thanks for the links and the info Dan. The Gotland Museum had a good section on that conflict and surmised that perhaps the Hanseatic residents of Visby had colluded with the Danes to deal with an uprising of the native Gotlanders over trading rights. Apparently the Danes didn’t occupy the town for long or show much interest in it long term.

      Jennifer

  2. Lars-Henrik Arvedsen says:

    On ancient buildings. The Romans used cement, but i was forgotten with the fall of Rome. In the Nordic countries bricks were used from around 1100 with lime mortar in building parish church’s castles etc.. You will find many of these today still.

    • Brick, stone, and lime mortar are durable building materials and many of the structures are remarkably well preserved. Even more impressive given how much military action there has always been in the Baltic. We’re really enjoying the trip and are starting to conclude we’ll need to come back.

  3. John S. says:

    Amazing so many ruins dating back to 1060 and 1200’s are still more or less extant, given what must have been fairly crude building materials back then. All the buildings are made of stone — I wonder if there was a form of cement back then to really bind the stones?

    Some of the arches in the old church and cathedral ruins are lovely and impressive. Enjoyed the details on Visby Cathedral as well.

    • It’s hard to tell to what extent these structures have been been restored but I agree that they are very well preserved. It’s been a fun pass through the islands. When we planned this trip, 7 months in the area seemed like a very long time. But there’s a lot to see. I’m sure you could spend years in the area and still mostly be seeing new things. It’s a wonderful cruising area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.