Visby Tourist Attractions
The island's capital, Visby (pop. 20,000), the "city of roses and ruins" on the northwest coast of Gotland, is the seat of the governor of Gotland county and the see of a bishop. Within its enclosing walls it has preserved much of its medieval atmosphere and received the designation of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of its original 17 churches, only 10 survive as ruins and only one (St Mary's) is still used for worship. From the beginning of July to the middle of August Friedrich Mehler's mystery play (with music), "Petrus de Dacia", is performed in the ruins of St Nicholas's Church. A Medieval Week is held in August.
The most notable feature of Visby is the 3.5km/2mi long circuit of town walls, built of limestone in the latter part of the 13th century and strengthened about 1300. At regular intervals round the walls are 44 towers standing between 15 and 20m (50 and 60ft) high. At two points there are large breaches in the walls - one on the east side, thought to have been caused by a Swedish attack in 1524, and the other on the west, the result of an attack by the Lübeckers a year later. On the seaward side is the Powder Tower (Kruttornet), probably built in the 11th century and incorporated in the later walls. Near the north end is the Maiden's Tower (Jungfrutornet), in which legend has it that the daughter of a Visby goldsmith was walled up alive for betraying the town to the Danes out of love for the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag. The adjoining corner tower is known as the Silver Cap (Silverhättan). From here the walls run east to the line of cliffs, turn south at the town's main gate, the Norderport, follow the edge of the cliffs to the Söderport (South Gate) and finally turn west to end at the ruins of Visborg Castle, overlooking the harbor.
Friedrich Mehler Mystery Play
From the beginning of July to the middle of August Friedrich Mehler's mystery play (with music), "Petrus de Dacia", is performed in the ruins of Visby's St Nicholas's Church.
This annual five-week festival features 15 performances of quality operas in the St Nicholas Ruins. The festival was founded in 1929 by Friedrich Mehler as a showcase for his opera Petrus da Dacia, a story of Sweden's first author. The festival still holds annual performances of the work, along with a historical exhibit in the Visby Museum detailing the author's life and death.Other operas are also performed by acclaimed companies including the Royal Stockholm Opera.
Gotland Museum of Art
The Gotland Museum of Art is a museum and an art hall, with exhibitions on three floors. The collection was originally founded in 1861. Today the major component is the Fürstenberg Gallery which houses the collection of Pontus Fürstenberg. Donated in 1901, it includes famous works by Per Hasselberg, Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn.
Gotland Museum of Natural History
The Gotland Museum of Natural History highlights the rich flora and fauna of Gotland. Highlights include limestone and fossils to the shores of the Baltic Sea.
Historical Museum of Gotland
Over 8,000 years of Gotland's history - from the Stone to the Vikings, and from Medieval to present is on display at the Historical Museum of Gotland.
Visby Medieval Week is held each August.This festival includes various events, such as tours, concerts, plays and shows, on the island of Gotland. Hundreds of islanders participate in the festival by dressing in period costumes and making traditional crafts and food.
Visby to Galgenberg Walk
There is a very attractive walk (30 minutes) from the Norderport, past the ruins of the 13th century church of St Göran, which belonged to a leper hospital, to the Galgenberg (Gallows Hill), a medieval place of execution with three 6m/20ft high stone pillars, from which there are fine views of the town and the sea. Below the north side of the hill is the Trojaborg, a stone maze which was probably a very ancient cult site; its name recalls the old Roman "game of Troy".
4km/2.5mi northeast of Visby, reached on a road skirting the coast, is the popular bathing beach of Snäckgärdsbadet.
Southeast of Visby (leaving by the Österport) is the Korsbetning (Cross Meadow), with the ruins of Solberga Abbey (1246). Here is the burial place of the Gotland peasants killed during the Danish conquest of the island in 1361, and the so-called Valdemar's Cross (Valdemarskors; 2.5m/8ft high, with a Latin inscription). Excavations in 1905 brought to light between 300 and 400 skeletons, together with arms and armor.
4km/2.5mi southwest of Visby is the Villa Villekulla, which featured in the films of Astrid Lindgren's "Pippi Longstocking" stories; nearby is a children's playground. 4km/2.5mi beyond this rises the Högklint, a rugged crag (45m/148ft) from the top of which there are wide views of the sea and of Visby. Lower down are a limestone spur, Getsvältan, and a cave. Nearby is the Villa Fridhem, which belonged to Prince Oskar Bernadotte and is now a boarding school, with a large park.
Map of Visby Attractions