Gammelstaden, Norrbotten – Exploring Sweden

Gammelstaden, literally meaning the Old Town, is approximately ten kilometres from Luleå. The interesting fact is that this location was actually originally Luleå. A few hundred years ago Luleå moved closer to the sea. Gammalstaden was once the center of a great parish, Nederluleå, streching all the way from the coast to the Norwegian border. Today the locality has a population of almost 5.000 inhabitants and it is a UNESCO World Herritage Site.

A Short History

The Luleå parish was established sometime in the first half of the 14th century as the northern-most parish in Sweden. The name of the parish changed in 1831 to Nederluleå. The establishment was a part of Sweden securing the province of Norrbotten and the northern border in disputes with Russia. This also resulted in Gammelstaden becoming an important marketplace.

The town of Luleå was established in 1621 at the old marketplace of what is today Gammelstaden. Due to the tectonic lift of the area, the town of Luleå was moved to its current location in 1648. As a result, there were towns: the new and the old one, later just Luleå and Gammelstaden.

Gammelstaden expanded for about a century from the 1860’s forward, resulting in new areas being developed outside of the old church town. This has resulted in Gammelstaden and Luleå being close to growing into each other.

Things to Do and See

Gammelstaden is a fairly compact place. A lot of the sights in Gammelstaden are concentrated in and around the old church town.

Gammelstad Church Town

The Church Town of Gammelstad (in Swedish Gammelstads kyrkstad) is the largest and best-preserved church town in Sweden. It contains 408 houses and has since 1996 been on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Most of the houses date back to at least the beginning of the 19th century, some probably a lot longer.

The church town was used by people in distant villages at the times when they visited the church. Many times the visitors travelled very far distances in harsh conditions. The town’s layout has remained complete to this day.

Nederluleå Church

Nederluleå Church is a part of the Gammelstad Church Town, as it is the parish church of Nederluleå parish and is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage listing of the church town.

The first wooden church or chapel was probably built here in the first half of the 14th century. The stone church was build during the 15th century, but has been extended since. The separate church tower dates back to 1851.

Open-Air Museum Hägnan

The open-air museum Hägnan is right next door to the Gammelstad Church Town. The open-air museum showcases buildings from the 18th until the 20 century and its objective is to teach visitors about the culture and history of Norrbotten.

How to Get to Gammelstaden

Flights: Luleå Airport (LLA) is 14 kilometers from Gammelstaden and connects the area with the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (ARN) for connections around the globe.
Car: Gammelstaden is close to Luleå along road 97 towards Jokkmokk. Luleå is located along the highway E4 between Skellefteå and Haparanda.
Train: Closest train station is in Luleå. SJ has trains from Stockholm and Björkliden/Kiruna and Norrtåg has trains from Kiruna and Umeå.
Bus: There are regional buses connecting Gammelstaden with the surrounding area, especially Luleå.

The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:

Stockholm – 903 kilometers (9 h 35 min)
Gothenburg – 1252 kilometers (14 h 10 min)
Malmö – 1511 kilometers (15 h 44 min)
Linköping – 1098 kilometers (11 h 42 min) 
Kiruna – 340 kilometers (4 h 5 min)

Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden

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