Gammelstad church town
Gammelstad is home to a unique cultural environment and is one of Sweden’s 15 World Heritage sites on UNESCO’s list of places worth preserving.
The city of Luleå has not always been located where it is today. Gammelstad (which literally means the old city) 10 km outside Luleå towards Boden used to be the city centre up until the 17th century, before it was moved closer to the sea and the harbour where it is located today. Gammelstad is home to a unique cultural environment and is one of Sweden’s 15 World Heritage sites on UNESCO’s list of places worth preserving. The church in Gammelstad is the largest late medieval stone church in Northern Sweden.
Amazingly, the church was built at the end of the 15th century, and is still standing to this day in the same place. Church cottages – the small red wooden cottages surrounding the church – were built to house churchgoers who came from far away, as regular church attendance was mandated by law.
Today, there are over 400 church cottages preserved in Gammelstad Church Town, and the tradition of staying overnight lives on. Gammelstad has both lively and quiet periods. This is the way it has been ever since the Church Town was built. When people visited the church, the town was bustling, however when the people returned home, the church town was once again quiet and calm.
Start your visit in Gammelstad Church Town by stopping by at the Visitor Centre. Upstairs is an exhibition about Gammelstad’s history, a slideshow room with different short films and of course you can also find information brochures to use to discover the Church Town on your own.
The staff are ready to help you with tips for your visit. At the bottom floor is a small souvenir shop where you can buy postcards and some locally produced goods. The Visitor Centre also offers different types of guided tours of Gammelstad Church Town all year around. Tours are offered at set times and dates but can also be arranged at other times.
Guided tour of Gammelstad Church Town
On this walking tour of the world heritage, the guide will tell you about Gammelstad’s history, why the Church Town was created, how the church cottages were used in the past and how they are used today and why Gammelstad became a world heritage. During the tour you will visit a cottage and if available, the church. Let the guide tell you the fantastic and interesting story of Gammelstad Church Town!
Guided Lantern tour of Gammelstad Church Town
During winter time there are a lot less daylight hours in Swedish Lapland. The most cosy way to experience the world heritage is to go on a lantern tour. The guide will tell you about the Church Town and its history when you walk around in the light of the lanterns. You will make a stop in a church cottage where you will be offered some warm “glögg” (mulled and spiced non-alcoholic wine), traditionally served around Christmas in Sweden.