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Gotland vapen.svg Location of Gotland in Sweden
Basic data
Part of the country (landsdel) : Götaland
Province (län) : Gotland County
Surface: 2,994 km²
Resident: 57,004
(December 31, 2008)
Population density: 19 inhabitants per km²
Highest elevation: Lojsta 82  m ö.h.
Largest lake: Bäste träsk

Gotland is a Swedish island and historical province . The second largest island in the Baltic Sea after Zealand ( Denmark ) and before Funen (Denmark) and Saaremaa ( Estonia ) is located northeast of Öland . It takes its name from the Germanic tribe of the Goths , who, according to the Gutasaga, at least partly left the island at the turn of the times to establish great empires in the Mediterranean area on the continent, later as the East and West Goths .

The island of Gotland, together with some neighboring smaller islands, forms the Gotland County , the historical Gotland Province and the Gotland Municipality .

Gotland - Landsat


Bläse Kalkbruksmuseum

Gotland consists to a large extent from a limestone -plateau, the south is a larger area on a sandstone formation. The capital of the island is the former Hanseatic city of Visby . In keeping with its resources, Gotland has been shaped by the stone and cement industry, marl and clay mining and fishing. The lime kiln ( Bärlast and Kyllaj lime kilns ) contributed to the deforestation of the island. In 1730 the number of ovens was halved to 18. Today limestone is only mined in a few places. Cement production is concentrated in Slite , where Sweden's largest plant is located. In Bläse there is a Kalkwerkmuseum (Swedish Bläse kalkbruksmuseum ).

The highest point is under 82 m high. There are a total of around 50 lakes on Gotland that are constantly filled with water, four of which have an area of ​​more than one square kilometer: Bäste träsk , Tingstädeträsk , Fardumeträsk and Bogeviken .

Flora and fauna

Spitzels orchid is a special rarity in Gotland's flora

Gotland is known for its very biodiverse natural landscape. The bird life and the variety of orchids are particularly noteworthy. Numerous nature reserves have been established across the island, including the Uppstaigreservat and one on the Torsburg, as well as two others on the islands of Lilla Karlsö and Stora Karlsö (small and large Karlsinsel). The Guteschaf (Swedish Gutefår ), a small robust domestic sheep breed, is the oldest breed in Sweden. Up until modern times, the wintry seal hunt on Gotland was part of the basic food supply for the island's population.

Landscape symbols



Gotland is an island with a few minor islands (including Fårö , Lilla and Stora Karlsö and Östergarnsholm ), which grew up out of the Ancylus Sea in several stages after the Ice Age due to the uplifting of land and different sea levels in the Baltic Sea . The island was first settled by hunters and gatherers . The skeletal finds from Stenkyrka and Lummelunda are around 8,000 years old. This makes them not only the oldest in Gotland, but also some of the oldest in Sweden. Around 2000 BC The hunters were ousted by arable farmers . A little later, the bronze came to the island. The Iron Age began v as in the rest of the north to 500th The settlements apparently also served as trading centers. Archaeologists have found flint from southern Sweden on several of them; Slate arrowheads came from central Sweden or Norrland and amber from the southern shore of the Baltic Sea.

Many remains from prehistoric times have been preserved as ground monuments . Ship settings and picture stones are elements that apparently originated on Gotland. Wheel graves (near Linde and Stenkyrka ), almost 400 rune stones , menhirs and stone boxes are also very numerous. Stone mound tombs , called Rojr (dt. Röser ) in Swedish , and rock carvings complete the relics of prehistoric times. The Bulverket , a pile building in Tingstädeträsk , is a unique facility from this time. Also strange are the Trullhalsar ( troll necks ), Vendelzeit grave circles, which can be found similarly in today's Poland . Not least influenced six large burial grounds (eg. As cemetery of Lilla Bjärs , cemetery of Lilla your ) and prehistoric castles , including Stora Havor , Gammelslott , grogarnsberget , Herregårdsklint , Styrmansberg and Torsburgen , the younger prehistory of the island as well as the Troy Towns , the norse labyrinths .

The open-air museum of Bunge and Gotlands Fornsal in Visby show a lot of it. The more than 800 found on the island Viking Age hoards , including the three recovered in 2000 spillings hoard (only 65 kg of silver with a material value of € 600,000) are, however, in Stockholm to see. This also applies to the pre-Viking age hoard from Havor . As early as the middle of the 7th century, the Baltic States were the target of Swedish activities. Sagas, which were not recorded until the 13th century, describe the deeds of kings Ivar Vidfamne (Ívarr inn víðfaðmi - 655–695 AD) and Harald Hildenand . Ivar Vidfamne is said to have conquered the Baltic States and the area around Gardarike in Karelia . But there can be no question of permanent land grabbing, because the empire fell apart with his death. Decorative needles, fibulae and swords from the 10th century prove that Curonian weapons and jewelry reached Gotland. Utensils like those around Klaipėda and Kretinga were found on the Gotland coast. The grave in Hugleifs attests to the presence of cures on the island. The finds indicate trade relations with the Baltic Sea, but only in the 10th and 11th centuries.

A special feature is that Gothic (gutiska razda) , which was spoken on the island in the early Middle Ages, was an independent language and that Gotland had its own national law (Landskapslag) , which was only replaced in the early modern era. The Gutalag (Gotland Law) did not recognize a lagman until 1595. Since the rune stones and grave fields on Gotland are older than those on Mälaren, the island must have played an important role much earlier in history than the center of the Svear.

Prehistoric houses

The remains of the oldest settlement structure on Gotland date from the time around the birth of Christ. They are large stone foundations that can be up to 60 m long and wall thicknesses of up to 1.5 m. There are approximately 1,800 foundations in groups on the island. The large houses provided space for living quarters and stables. A steep roof rested on the foundations, supported by double rows of strong posts. The roof was probably covered with thatch (gotland. "Ag"), which has been used as cover material for rural farm buildings up to our time. Primarily barley, wheat and rye were grown. The seeds were protected from cattle and game by stone walls. Some remains of the old field system boundaries, so-called "Fornäckrar", still exist. Cattle were also kept on the unfenced pastures, the common land . Cattle, goats, sheep, domestic pigs and chickens are documented in the prehistoric settlement of Vallhagar . Some of the places, as is indicated by rich finds, were Iron Age trading centers.

Even in pagan times Gotland was divided into 20 thing districts. This division continued until 1745, but was then adapted to the parishes.

middle Ages

In the middle of the 10th century the island still belonged to the kingdom of the pagan central Swedish Svear , under whose protection it had placed itself. According to legend, the Norwegian king Olav the Saint is said to have Christianized the island in 1029 AD. The grave slab from St. John's Church in Visby documents the transition. Gotland was an important place for trade in the Baltic Sea even before and during the time of the Vikings and in the early and late Middle Ages . Later, the Hanseatic League played a decisive role in this. Long before Lübeck and other cities on the Baltic Sea were founded, the island ports Paviken and Fröjel , and later Visby, were the fulcrum of goods traffic between Avaldsnes on Karmøy and Kaupang in Norway, Birka and Sigtuna in Sweden, Dorestad in the Netherlands, Haithabu , Ribe and Tissø in what was then Denmark, Quentovic in France, Jomsburg (Vineta), Ralswiek , Reric , Truso and Wiskiauten on the southern Baltic coast, Novgorod in Russia and Seeburg in the Baltic States. Peasant traders brought coveted goods across the sea. In their entourage, probably as guests or as partners, more and more merchants from the newly founded cities on the Baltic Sea and from the Rhineland and Westphalia came to the island in the 12th century . They quickly took over the majority of the trading volume with their own ships. The German traders, for the most part based in Visby , where they had a great influence on urban development with the construction of magnificent courtyards, houses and the St. Mary's Church , soon became serious competition for the rural population; Tensions were therefore inevitable. This conflict between merchants and the rural population resulted in a military conflict in 1288.

Gallows at Visby
Contract with the Teutonic Order about the return of Gotland

The city of Visby, which was subordinate to the Swedish King Magnus Ladulås and obliged to serve as a military service, had to assert itself against the farmers in several battles and suffered despite its fortifications - the city ​​wall , which is still largely preserved today, was almost 3.6 km long and had next to it three gates and 44 defense towers - heavy destruction. In the second half of July 1361, the Danish King Waldemar Atterdag landed on the island with a force of 3,000 men. A hurriedly assembled army of the rural population - the citizens meanwhile holed up - tried to stop him and his knights, but were worn out after two days. On July 27th , the Danes met the last contingent within sight of the city walls. There was a bloody slaughter. Around 2000 people were killed because the city dwellers did not dare to open the gates to them. After the battle , Visby surrendered and "voluntarily" opened its gates to Waldemar's troops, but received confirmation of his old rights and privileges two days later.

Gotland as part of Denmark

Gotland has been Danish since then . In the war between Denmark and Sweden in 1394 the Vitalienbrüder occupied the island as a base of operations, where they gradually became independent and feared pirates as privateers under the slogan “God's friends, enemies of the world!”. On Vivesholm there are still the remains of a fortification which Albrecht von Mecklenburg had built as the leader of the Vitalienbrüder after his deposition as the Swedish king. Finally, in 1398 , the Teutonic Order under Konrad von Jungingen expelled the Brothers of Vitality from Gotland, which had been pledged to the Knightly Order of Sweden. In 1408 the island was awarded to Margaret of Denmark . Erich von Pommern began in 1411 to build a castle at the southern end of Visby. In 1439 he was deposed as King of Denmark, but ruled Gotland for eleven years before handing the castle over to the new Danish king in 1448.

Modern times

In the following years the brothers Olof and Ivar Axelsson Tott played a prominent role on the island. The Danish King Christian II , who had installed Søren Norby as a feudal man over Gotland, was expelled from his country and went to Gotland, which he defended against Danish and Lübeck claims. In 1525 the Lübeckers shot at Visby; but they could not conquer the fortress of Visborg . Nevertheless, the island came back under Danish rule.

The transition to the Lutheran creed took place on Gotland in the 16th century, but is not documented in detail.

In 1645 Gotland came back to Sweden after almost 300 years in the Peace of Brömsebro . The island was awarded to the former Queen Christina in 1654 as land of maintenance. In the Danish-Swedish war from 1675 to 1679 it was occupied again by the Danes, but they had to evacuate in the end, blowing up the city castle of Visby, the Visborg. During the Northern War 1700–1721 and the Finnish War 1808, the island was affected by Russian troops before more peaceful times broke.

Gotland's importance as a trading metropolis on the Baltic Sea was soon lost because the bays were too shallow as natural harbors for larger and heavier ships.

More recently, some new electrical power transmission techniques have been tried out on the island of Gotland. In 1954, for example, the first operational facility for high-voltage direct current transmission in the western world, the HVDC Gotland, went into operation between Gotland and mainland Sweden . In 1999, the HVDC connection of a wind farm was carried out on Gotland for the first time ( HVDC Visby-Nas ).

badges and flags

Unofficial version of the Gotland flag

The coat of arms and the official flag of Gotland show in blue a silver, gold-armored and gold-tongued ram, who holds a red flag on a gold long cross with a gold flight part with the right barrel. There is also an unofficial version of Gotland's flag, which is covered with a green cross on a yellow background.



In addition to standard Swedish, a special language, Gutamål , is still spoken on Gotland today . It developed from the Altgut niche and is now generally regarded as a Swedish dialect.

Fishing villages

The Gotland fishing villages (Swedish Gotländska fiskelägen) are typical of Gotland Island. Today there are still around 150 fishing villages of various sizes, which in the past were primarily used by the farmers living on the coast ( Hallshuk , Helgumannen , Kovik ). Eleven of them are under monument protection . Seals were also hunted from Fårö .

The country churches

There are almost a hundred, mostly well-preserved, country churches, most of which date from the Middle Ages. The oldest are the churches in Atlingbo , Fardhem and Stenkyrka (stone church). As an example of the wooden churches used before 1150 AD, a partial reconstruction of the Hemse church can be seen in the Stockholm State Museum. The Gotland churches surprise not only with their reliefs , frescoes and baptismal fonts, but also with a large number of wooden crosses of high artistic quality. The Gotland triumphal crucifixes are a particularly beautiful genus. In the church of Öja hangs a triumphal crucifix from the 13th century, which is unique of its kind in Scandinavia .

Art on Gotland

The town of Broa on Gotland gave the name for an early medieval artistic phase of the Viking style, the so-called "Broa phase" in the second half of the 8th century, which is a subspecies of the Oseberg style . It is characterized by a conglomerate of motifs and styles. Long and thready branches create a network of loose nooses around the main animals. These ribbon-shaped animals are a later offshoot of the Scandinavian animal ornamentation, which originated in the 6th century.

In 1900 the painter William Blair Bruce and the sculptor Carolina Benedicks-Bruce moved to their Brucebo country house in Väskinde . In the years that followed, various visual artists came to visit there, as did writers and musicians. Since 1937, young artists have been accommodated there as scholarship holders. After the Second World War, various films by director Torbjörn Axelman were made in Brucebo . The house has been open as an artist museum since 2012.

Andrei Tarkowski's last film , Victim, was made on Gotland . The exact location where the house shown in the film was burned down twice is 56 ° 59'52.30 "N, 18 ° 22'38.86" E; But there are no more traces of the house, only the nearby wood is still unchanged. Many Tarkowski fans make the pilgrimage here every year. In addition, the crime series Maria Wern, Kripo Gotland (2008-2016) and The Commissioner and the Sea (since 2007) are playing on Gotland .

Museums on Gotland



Raukar at Lergrav
Beach on Gotland

Today Gotland is a popular holiday destination, especially for Swedes; because the climate of the Baltic Sea island is mild. The island is particularly popular with bicycle tourists and young people. Sights on Gotland as well as on the smaller neighboring island of Fårö include the Raukar . These are peculiarly shaped limestone pillars up to ten meters high on the stone beaches of Digerhuvud and Langhammars , known as "Klappersteinfelder" , in the woods near Lickershamn , in the south near Hoburgen and in the east near Ljugarn.

The main attraction of the island is the medieval town of Visby. One of the largest medieval festivals in the north takes place here every year in the 32nd calendar week. Medeltidsveckan (Medieval Week ) attracts around 40,000 visitors to Gotland every year. Visby is then transformed for a week into a lively Hanseatic town from 1361 with costumes, music, theater, market and juggling.

On the second weekend in July, the Gotland Olympics (Gutarnas olymp) take place in Stånga , an event comparable to the Highland Games.

On the island in Kneippbyn, not far from Visby, there is also the Villa Kunterbunt , known from Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking books. It is the original building from the films, all of which were filmed on the island. In the building you can see Mr. Nilsson's jacket, Pippi's little monkey, as well as the typewriter on which Astrid Lindgren wrote her stories.

The "official" Kubb World Championships have been held in Rone every year since 1995 . In 2002, a total of 192 teams, each with six members, came together to win the title. The age of the participants ranged from 8 to 85 years.

The largest enduro event in the world, the Gotland Grand National , takes place annually on the first weekend in November with over 2200 participants in Tofta , 15 km south of Visby.


Ferry connections

The MS Gotland

From the mainland ports of Oskarshamn and Nynäshamn as well as - seasonal - Västervik there are ferry connections from the shipping company Destination Gotland to Visby. There is a free ferry connection to the island of Fårö within the archipelago .

air traffic

Visby has an airport that is served by Stockholm and several other Swedish cities. There are also connections to Helsinki and Oslo through the Gotlandsflyg airline . From 2009 to 2011 there was a direct flight connection with Berlin through Air Berlin during the summer months .

Bus transport

There are several city bus routes in Visby. The rest of the island is accessible by regional bus services, which mostly start from the bus station in Visby. There is also demand-driven transport.

Railway history

In 1878 the first railway on Gotland was inaugurated. The route went from Visby to Hemse. Until 1921 the line was extended to the north and south. In addition, additional routes and a few short field railways were built for the transport of limestone. With the exception of a short reconstructed museum railway and a field railway, the railway lines no longer exist today.

Stone industry

Limestone has been used as a building material since prehistoric times. Dry masonry (Swedish called Kallmur) is part of some prehistoric roes ( Kauparve ) and Fornburgen ( Torsburg ). A particularly large number of limestone buildings were erected during the Middle Ages. In Visby, the curtain wall, the church ruins and the granaries are evidence of this. The medieval quarries were in Bro, Hejdeby and north of Visby. The limestone quarry was carried out by the farmers until the middle of the 17th century. Stones were probably exported to cities on the Baltic Sea even before the cathedral was built in Lund (1103–1145). The burning of lime began in the Middle Ages. It was initially carried out in small piles for household use. A medieval kiln was discovered outside of Nordergravar during the 1970s. It is believed that it was used in connection with the construction of the Visby curtain wall. With the trade privilege granted by Heinrich the Lion in 1161, the Visbyer Hanseatic people appropriated the lucrative lime industry. Previously insignificant places such as Barläst , Bläse , Fårösund , Kappelshamn , Katthammarsvik , Kyllaj , Länna, Lauters, Lergrav, Lörge, Sankt Olofsholm , Storugns and Värnevik flourished. A quarry near a port was a prerequisite for lucrative lime production. Lime kilns were built there, which were formative for the island from the 17th to the middle of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 17th century, the first of these large kilns was built on St. Olofsholm. There is a description of the pre-industrial distilling process by Carl von Linné , who visited the island in 1741. Restored lime kilns are now industrial monuments in Barläst and Kyllaj.

There is sandstone in the area from Grötlingbo to the southern tip of the island. The quarries, in which stones have been quarried and worked on since prehistoric times, were close to one another. In the Middle Ages, building material for churches and other houses as well as stone blocks for the production of baptismal fonts - both for the own churches and for export - were extracted.


Due to climate change, the former software specialist Lauri Pappinen came up with the idea of growing wine on Gotland in 2000 . After first attempts, he relied on the Rondo , Phoenix and Solaris grape varieties . His winery "Gutevin" became more professional and got several competitors, including "Vinhuset Halls Huk". Together they form one of the northernmost wine-growing regions in Europe, far north of the previously assumed wine limit of 52 ° N.

See also


Web links

Commons : Category: Gotland  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Statistisk årsbok för Sverige 2009
  2. Folkmängd i landskapen ( Memento from August 17, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Characterization and classification of gotländska ytvatten enligt ramdirektivet för vatten. 3, 2005, p. 22. (Swedish)
  4. ^ A b Hans Hansson: The gotländska kusten. In: Henning Stålhane (ed.): Den svenska historien 2: Medeltid 1319–1520. Stockholm 1966, pp. 56-57.
  5. Georg Wilhelm Sante (Ed.): History of the German Lands - "Territories Ploetz". Volume 1: The Territories Until the End of the Old Empire. A.-G.-Ploetz-Verlag, Würzburg 1964, p. 131.
  6. ^ Gotland Olympics website. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original ; Retrieved January 15, 2012 .
  7. Summer timetable for Destination Gotland ( Memento from June 22, 2017 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on August 17, 2017.
  8. Bus timetable Gotland Summer 2017 ( Memento from August 25, 2017 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on May 15, 2019.
  9. Gotland bus timetable from August 20, 2017 , accessed on August 23, 2017.
  10. Swedish wine producers defy adverse conditions. ( Memento from March 18, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) on
  11. "Viticulture in Climate Change" on
  12. "Vinmakarna vid vinhuset Halls Huk" in Gotlands Allehanda from September 22, 2007.

Coordinates: 57 ° 30 '  N , 18 ° 31'  E