Visby Introduction Walking Tour, Visby

Visby Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Visby

Ask a Swede about Visby and you’ll probably see a dreamy look on their face. It is fairly difficult to find anyone in the country who isn’t fond of this enchanting town, located on the island of Gotland, east of the Swedish mainland.

Visby's history dates back to medieval times when it was a prominent trading hub within the Hanseatic League. The town's name is believed to originate from the Old Norse word "Vi," which means sacred place, and "by," meaning town – a testament to the town's ancient significance as a place of worship. Today, Visby is renowned for its captivating blend of medieval architecture, cultural sights, and tranquil gardens.

One of Visby's most iconic landmarks is the Visby Cathedral, also known as the Sankta Maria Cathedral, an architectural marvel dating back to the 12th century. Inside, you will find a collection of medieval artifacts, religious art, and a serene atmosphere that offers a glimpse into the town's spiritual legacy.

For those interested in delving deeper into Visby's past, the Gotlands Museum is a must-visit destination. This museum offers a fascinating journey through time that gives visitors a sense of how life has evolved in Gotland over the ages.

Nature enthusiasts will find solace in the Visby Botanical Garden, a peaceful oasis of flora and fauna. The garden offers a perfect blend of relaxation and exploration.

And of course, no visit to Visby is complete without exploring the Visby City Wall. This well-preserved 3.5-kilometer-long medieval fortification, with many of the original towers from the 1200s still intact, encircles the town, providing stunning panoramic views of both Visby and the Baltic Sea.

Whether you're a history buff, a nature or architecture lover, or simply seeking a unique and picturesque escape, you'll find Visby equally interesting. So, pack your bags, step into this time capsule of a town, and create your own memories of it amid the ancient walls and breathtaking landscapes.
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Visby Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Visby Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Sweden » Visby (See other walking tours in Visby)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: nataly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Visby Cathedral
  • Gotlands Bryggeri
  • Gotlands Museum
  • Burmeister House
  • Almedalen Park
  • Old Pharmacy
  • Botanical Garden
  • Visby City Wall
Visby Cathedral

1) Visby Cathedral (must see)

Visby Cathedral, also known as Visby Saint Mary's Cathedral, is an ancient and historically significant religious edifice situated at the heart of Visby, the principal town on the picturesque Swedish island of Gotland. As part of the Church of Sweden, the cathedral serves as the seat of the Bishop of Visby.

The cathedral's roots date back to the 13th century when it was constructed to cater to the spiritual needs of the German traders residing in the city. The initial structure was likely a modest wooden church, later replaced with a more substantial stone building. Originally designed as a basilica, the cathedral underwent numerous expansions and renovations during the Middle Ages, eventually transforming into its present form as a hall church.

In 1361, Gotland and the cathedral fell under the rule of Denmark, but after the Reformation, it became the sole medieval church in Visby to remain in use. In 1572, the cathedral was officially elevated to the esteemed status of a cathedral. Subsequently, in 1645, Gotland and the cathedral became part of Sweden.

Architecturally, Visby Cathedral exhibits characteristics that align with medieval German models, particularly those from Westphalia and the Rhineland. Nevertheless, discernible traces of Gothic architecture from France are also evident in its design. The cathedral's influence extends beyond its island home, shaping local church construction on Gotland and even leaving its mark on certain elements found in the cathedrals of Linköping and Uppsala on the Swedish mainland.

The interior of Visby Cathedral boasts an eclectic mix of furnishings spanning several centuries. Among its treasures is the main altarpiece, a magnificent Gothic revival masterpiece crafted in 1905. The cathedral's rich history and unique blend of architectural influences make it a captivating destination for both religious pilgrims and history enthusiasts.
Gotlands Bryggeri

2) Gotlands Bryggeri

Gotlands Bryggeri AB is a renowned Swedish brewery located in Visby on the island of Gotland. As a subsidiary of Spendrups Bryggeriaktiebolag, the brewery is known for its high-quality and innovative brews. Designed by local architect Birger Andersson, the brewery was completed in 1995. Since then, it has produced a diverse range of beers, including Medeltidsöl, Christmas beer, and the unique "Gotlands Bittar," made with 30 distinct Gotland herbs.

Under Brewmaster Johan Spendrup's leadership, the brewery has continuously experimented with new brews and expanded its reach beyond the island. Notably, their Hansapils beer reached the mainland through the popular Bishops Arms pub in 2007, gaining wider recognition.

To meet growing demand, the brewery has consistently expanded production, brewing an impressive 200,000 liters of wort in 2006. One of their successful ventures was introducing "Sleepy Bulldog," a pale ale, to Systembolaget's order range in 2009, expanding their market presence.

Gotlands Bryggeri is committed to sharing its brewing expertise with the public, offering guided tours during the summer months. These tours provide a firsthand experience of the brewing process and the passion behind their craft. Additionally, appointments are available throughout the year for those interested.

With a combination of traditional craftsmanship and innovative brewing techniques, Gotlands Bryggeri has built a strong reputation for exceptional beers. As they continue to meet increasing demand and explore new opportunities, the brewery remains a prominent player in the Swedish brewing scene, leaving a lasting impression on locals and visitors alike.
Gotlands Museum

3) Gotlands Museum (must see)

The Gotland Museum was founded in 1875 by the Friends of Gotland's Antiquity society. Spearheaded by Pehr Arvid Säve, the museum's primary objective was to preserve and showcase historical artifacts and everyday objects associated with Gotland, while also documenting intangible aspects of life on the island.

Over the years, the museum has grown and expanded its collection through generous donations from individuals, who have contributed single items or entire estates. It now houses an impressive collection of approximately 400,000 objects, which are curated and stored in three depositories. The largest of these is the Magasin Visborg, located outside Visby. In a commendable move towards accessibility and transparency, the Magasin Visborg has been open to the public since 2014, allowing visitors to witness the richness of Gotland's heritage up close.

The collections within the Gotland Museum are thoughtfully divided into different sections, each representing a significant aspect of the island's history and culture. The cultural history section exhibits clothes, textiles, household items, weapons, and agricultural objects that offer insights into the daily lives of the island's inhabitants throughout history. The art collection comprises paintings, graphic prints, and sculptures, showcasing the creativity and artistic expressions of the region. The archeological collection is of particular interest, containing objects that span from 7,000-year-old stone axes to Medieval seals, providing a comprehensive glimpse into Gotland's past through excavated finds.

Furthermore, the museum houses a collection of natural history, featuring fossils, herbariums, butterflies, mounted animals, and skeletons, which sheds light on the island's natural environment and biodiversity. This diverse array of collections underscores the importance of preserving and interpreting Gotland's heritage in all its dimensions.
Burmeister House

4) Burmeister House

The Burmeister House is the oldest merchant house in the town, built during the mid-1600s by Hans Burmeister. Its traditional construction, using horizontal timber with interlocked logs, and its distinctive red exterior from color and tar mix, make it a captivating historical gem. Inside, visitors step into a meticulously recreated interior, gaining insights into the town's history and lifestyle during that era.

The house's standout feature is its remarkable paintings, especially in the hall, displaying pastoral landscape motifs that showcase the craftsmanship of the time. The property underwent various restorations and changes of ownership, but its historical significance was preserved.

Colonel Gustaf Björlin's restoration project in the late 19th century saved the house from dismantling and was further restored in 1904 with public help. Converted into a museum, tourist office, souvenir shop, and restaurant, the Burmeister House faced periods of decline and restoration.

Despite challenges, the house endured as a cherished historical landmark, declared a building monument in 1994. Today, it offers visitors an immersive experience into 17th-century life in Visby and remains a testament to the town's vibrant history.
Almedalen Park

5) Almedalen Park

Almedalen is a picturesque park nestled in the charming Swedish city of Visby on the idyllic island of Gotland. This historic park holds significant cultural and political importance, especially as the central venue for the annual Almedalen Week.

In ancient times, Almedalen's vicinity served as the city's harbor, just outside the protective walls of Visby. Over the years, however, the port faced the effects of post-glacial rebound, gradually becoming too shallow for continued use. A new harbor had to be constructed further away from the city, where the sea's depth allowed for more substantial maritime activities. In the 19th century, the area was known as Gamle Hamn, or the Old Port.

It was during the 1870s that the transformation of the region began. The decision to plant elms in the area led to the christening of the park as Almedalen, a name that has remained ever since. The elm trees provided a serene and elegant backdrop, turning the once bustling harbor into a tranquil green space, cherished by locals and visitors alike.

Almedalen Week has become synonymous with the park's name, gaining national recognition as one of Sweden's most important political events. This annual week-long gathering takes place during the 27th week of the year, drawing participants from all walks of life involved in Swedish politics. Representatives from major political parties in the country take turns addressing the public and fellow politicians, delivering speeches on a diverse range of topics.
Old Pharmacy

6) Old Pharmacy

The Old Pharmacy is a charming medieval stone gabled house. Its history dates back to the 13th century. This building is renowned for two aspects: being the oldest house in Sweden currently utilized as an apartment building, owned by Gotlandshem, and featuring a distinctive stair gable that adds to its unique allure.

When originally constructed in the 13th century, the purpose of the building was likely dual-fold - functioning both as a warehouse and as a dwelling for its inhabitants.

As the centuries passed, the Old Pharmacy witnessed various transformations, playing an integral role in the local community's life. In the 19th century, it became the site of a pharmacy, a place where people sought remedies and medicinal cures for their ailments.

However, progress marched on, and in 1897, the pharmacy decided to relocate to a new and more modern premises, with the new location being designated as "Apoteket Väduren." As a result, the venerable old building at the intersection changed its name to the Old Pharmacy.
Botanical Garden

7) Botanical Garden (must see)

The Visby Botanical Garden was first laid out in 1855 by the altruistic gentleman's society, Sällskapet DBW, following the vision of master Hans Petter Gustavsson. Since then, the garden has undergone multiple stages of development, with a major renovation taking place in the 1930s that has shaped its current, captivating design.

Today, the park stands as a popular destination in Visby, attracting a multitude of visitors with its appealing mix of natural beauty, historical architecture, and botanical diversity. The southern part of the park is home to the ruins of St. Olof's church, adding a touch of historic mystique to the otherwise verdant landscape. A noteworthy agreement made in the 1970s between DBW and the municipality of Gotland allows the garden to be freely open to the public, with the region assuming responsibility for operating costs. DBW's garden board, meanwhile, retains the crucial role of curating the botanical collection, ensuring a continued focus on diversity and conservation.

The Botanical Garden has gained a distinguished reputation for conserving rare plant species. Its expansive layout encompasses a variety of water bodies, making it not just a hub of botanical exploration, but a site of exceptional beauty. One can marvel at the majestic Empress Tree and the vibrant rhododendron plants that are among the garden's most captivating attractions.

However, the garden's appeal extends beyond its local flora. It boasts an eclectic array of plants from around the globe, embodying a spirit of botanical diversity and international unity. The intricate interplay between the local and the global, the ancient and the new, renders the Visby Botanical Garden an enchanting location.
Visby City Wall

8) Visby City Wall (must see)

The Visby City Wall is a remarkable medieval defensive structure encircling the charming town of Visby on the picturesque island of Gotland in Sweden. As an outstanding example of medieval fortification in Scandinavia, this wall holds immense historical significance and is a vital component of the Visby World Heritage Site.

Construction of the Visby City Wall took place in two distinct phases, during the 13th and 14th centuries, showcasing the architectural prowess of the time. Originally stretching over 3.6 kilometers (2.2 miles), an impressive 3.44 kilometers (2.14 miles) of the wall remains intact, a testament to its enduring strength and resilience.

The wall comprises an array of 29 large towers and 22 smaller ones, providing a formidable line of defense for the town. Today, 27 large towers and 9 smaller ones still stand, attesting to the exceptional preservation of this medieval marvel. An interesting aspect of the construction is that some houses, predating the wall itself, were integrated into the wall during one of its construction phases, adding a unique blend of urban settlement within the fortifications.

As the centuries passed, the Visby City Wall saw adaptations to meet the changing demands of warfare. In the 18th century, fortifications were strategically added to several sections of the wall, reinforcing its defensive capabilities. Additionally, some of the towers were reconstructed to accommodate the use of cannons, reflecting the evolution of military technology during that era.

The Visby City Wall not only serves as a magnificent historical attraction but also stands as a symbol of the town's resilience and the importance of safeguarding cultural heritage. Its inclusion in the Visby World Heritage Site further emphasizes its global significance and the recognition of its exceptional preservation.

Walking Tours in Visby, Sweden

Create Your Own Walk in Visby

Create Your Own Walk in Visby

Creating your own self-guided walk in Visby is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Church Ruins Walking Tour

Church Ruins Walking Tour

Out of the total nineteen church ruins found in Gotland, twelve are in Visby. The period of church construction in Gotland was fairly short, from around the early 11th to the mid-14th centuries, with the last churches in Visby inaugurated in the 15th century.

Our first stop on this tour is the Saint Clemens Church, a majestic structure dating back to the 1060s. Once a grand display of Gothic...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles