Visby: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Coat of arms
Visby is located in Sweden Gotland
Coordinates: 57°38′N 18°17′E / 57.633°N 18.283°E / 57.633; 18.283Coordinates: 57°38′N 18°17′E / 57.633°N 18.283°E / 57.633; 18.283
Country Sweden
Province Gotland
County Gotland County
Municipality Gotland Municipality
Charter 1645
Area [1]
 - Total 12.08 km2 (4.7 sq mi)
Population (2005-12-31)[1]
 - Total 22,236
 Density 1,841/km2 (4,768.2/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Hanseatic Town of Visby*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

The north part of the Ringwall
State Party  Sweden
Type Cultural
Criteria iv, v
Reference 731
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1995  (19th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Visby is a locality and the seat of Gotland Municipality in Gotland County, Sweden with 22,236 inhabitants in 2005.[1] It is the only one with city status on the island of Gotland; it is arguably the best-preserved medieval city in Scandinavia and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the most notable historical remains are the 3.4 km long stone wall called Ringmuren ("the Ring Wall"), that encircles the city and the old church ruins.

The name "Visby" comes from the Old Norse Vis, (genitive singular of Vi) meaning sacrificial place, and by, meaning "city".[2]

Visby is a popular vacation destination for Scandinavians during the summer and receives hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.



The earliest history of Visby is uncertain, but it is known to have been a centre of merchandise around 900 AD. It was inhabited as early as the stone age, probably because of the access to fresh water and a natural harbour.

In the 12th century, Visby Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Mary, was constructed. It was reshaped in the 13th century to its current appearance, and was officially opened in 1225 by the bishop of the Swedish city of Linköping. Several other churches were also constructed in the ensuing centuries. The city flourished, thanks to the German Hanseatic League.

The work on the ring wall was likely begun in the 12th century. Around 1300 it was rebuilt to reach its current height, acquiring the characteristic towers, although some towers were not constructed until the 15th century. The ringwall is still largely intact.

In 1361, Gotland was conquered by Valdemar IV of Denmark and Visby became a Danish city. Important as it was, some setbacks occurred. In 1391, 1394 and 1398 it was taken and plundered by the Victual Brothers, pirates who sailed the Baltic Sea. In 1411, King Eric of Pomerania had the castle of Visborg constructed, and settled himself there for twelve years, during which the city virtually became a pirates nest, and the commerce halted. As of 1470, the Hanseatic League rescinded Visby's status as a Hanseatic town.

In 1525, the final blow came. The merchants of Visby were in a feud with Lübeck in what is now Germany. The Lübeckers burned down all Visby's churches except the cathedral. The ruins have been preserved until this day, adding their gravity to the modern city.

Gotland was again conquered by Sweden in 1645 at the Treaty of Brömsebro, after 300 years of Danish rule. The city developed slowly as things were left as they were. In the mid 18th century some attempts were made by Swedish government officials to improve living standards, but little was accomplished. Not until the early 19th century did Visby once again attract commerce and a harbour industry. At the same time - 1808 - Gotland was conquered by Russia, but was peacefully taken back by the Swedes after only a couple of months.

Sights and events

Some affectionately call Visby the "city of roses and ruins" and natives to the island often just say "town". Whether it lives up to that distinction among other old Swedish cities is debatable.

In the first week of July, Visby is the scene of the Almedalen Week (Almedalsveckan), an important meeting place for everyone involved in Swedish politics. During the week, representatives from the major political parties in Sweden take turns giving speeches in the Almedalen park.

In August the tourist season is at its peak. In week 32 from Sunday to Sunday the annual Medieval Week (Medeltidsveckan) is held. During this time regularly dressed tourists are outnumbered by people dressed in Medieval costumes. The festival started in 1984. There are a variety of events: music, jesters, theater, a medieval market, jousting tournaments and much more.


Visby is linked to the mainland of Sweden by ferry and by airplanes. The three-hour ferry arrives from Oskarshamn in Småland and Nynäshamn near Stockholm. During summertime the ferry also runs to Grankullavik on Öland. The ferry is run by Destination Gotland and subsidized by the Swedish government.

Visby Airport is located about 5 km north of the city. With 276,000 passengers in 2005 it is the 12th largest airport in Sweden.


Panorama image of Visby harbour, april 2008


Near Visby there is the static inverter plant for the first HVDC interconnection of a windpark (HVDC Visby-Näs).

Swedish author Mari Jungstedt has set two detective novels, Unseen and Unknown, on the island of Gotland. The principal character, DS Anders Knutas, is based at police headquarters in Visby, and there are numerous descriptive passages of the city and the island.

Visby gave its name to the 1968 Visby Amendments, which were an amendment of the Hague Rules of shipping law, leading to the Hague-Visby Rules.

Hayao Miyazaki noted that Visby is the main visual inspiration for the town in Kiki's Delivery Service, though elements of many other locations were blended in[3].

Notable natives

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Tätorternas landareal, folkmängd och invånare per km2 2000 och 2005" (in Swedish) (xls). Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  2. ^ Nationalencyklopedin, article "Visby"
  3. ^ Hayao Miyazaki (director). (3 February 2010) (in English and Japanese) (DVD). Creating Kiki's Delivery Service. Disney Presents Studio Ghibli. 

External links

Murkrona.svg Visby is one of 133 places with the historical city status in Sweden.

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Visby is one of the most remarkable towns in Sweden and Scandinavia, situated on the west coast of Gotland Island. The population figure is about 23,000. It is known for the city wall, the Cathedral and the church ruins. In 1995, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

During the Swedish summer Mid June - Mid August Visby is crowded. It is one of the best party cities in Sweden in the summer. Many Visby residents leave during these hectic months and rent their apartments. During the rest of the year the atmosphere is quite different.

Get in

By plane

There are flights all year to Visby from Stockholm and Linköping. During summer, there are also flights from Gothenburg, Oslo, Hamburg and Ängelholm.

By boat

Destination Gotland runs ferries from Nynäshamn and Oskarshamn to Visby. You can bring your car.

Get around

The inner city (Old Town), which is located within the city walls, is small enough to be covered by foot. The rest of the city is easy to get around by bike and has plenty of good bikes paths.

By Foot

Visby is best enjoyed by foot, especially the Old Town, located within the city wall.

By Bicycle

During the summer there are usually plenty of bike rentals, but they can be expensive, if you're staying for a longer period purchasing a used bike might be a cheaper option.

By Bus

There are several bus lines going out to the rest of the island, check the time table before heading out though.

By Car

During the summer cars are not allowed within the city walls of Visby, and parking can be difficult to find, or expensive.

By Taxi

Like the rest of Sweden, taxis can be expensive, and are best for short trips when you are otherwise unable to get around otherwise.

  • Taxi Gotland, phone number: +46 498-200 200
  • Taxi Kurir Gotland, phone number: +46 498-50 000
  • Din Taxi Gotland, phone number: +46 498-20 70 70
  • Gute Taxi, phone number: +46 498-44 44 44


Note that many of the town's attractions are only open during the summer months, usually until Aug 30th.

  • City wall Begun in the late 13th century, Visby's city wall stretches almost 3 and a half kilometers and stands 11 meters high. Today, 36 towers and three main gates remain.
  • Botanical Gardens Enter through the "Door of Love" to this picturesque garden of trees and ruins.
  • Klinten Once the workers' quarter and now a popular spot to take in the view over the lower town, Klinten is an attractive maze of small, rose covered, homes.
  • St. Maria Church Built in the early 13th century
  • St. Clemens ruins Church ruins
  • St. Gerturde ruins
  • St. Hans ruins
  • St. Karin ruins
  • St. Nicolaus ruins
  • St. Olof ruins (located in the Botanical Gardens)
  • St. Per ruins
  • Gotlands Fornsal Museum Strandgatan



There are several tours of the Old Town during the summer, most available in Swedish, but occasionally in other languages, and they are sometimes available for group bookings. The best bet is to check with the Tourist Centre (Skeppsbron 4-6, 62157 Visby) what guides are available in your language. Also ask whether you need to get a ticket before the tour starts or if you pay when you meet up.

  • Boda Borg Website Fun and challenging Quests for people of all ages.


There are only two ATM machines in the old town and port area: one at Donners Plats, just as you come up from the water front and one on Adelsgatan. Along the Ostertorg there are several others.

Most shops close at 5pm on weekdays, 3pm on Saturdays and are closed on Sundays.

  • Adelsgatan This is the major shopping street, and by far the most touristy. Don't be discouraged though, it has plenty of interesting shops selling small trinkets and local handicraft. If you venture off this street you'll get to see beautiful the alleys and the smaller streets, which are less crowded, and there are smaller shops hidden here and there.
  • Sankt Hans Quarter
  • Ostertorg (exit the old city through the Osterport gate) Modern pedestrian shopping district with most of the usual European retail outlets, as well as banks, pharmacies, and fast food joints.
  • Gotlandsdricke, is a local type of beer. Gotlandsdricke is no longer legal to sell, but it's still legal to make it yourself so if you ask around you might be able to find someone who makes it. Back in the day, every farm had their own recipe.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VISBY, or Wisby, the capital of the Swedish island and administrative district (lain) of Gotland, in the Baltic Sea. Pop. (1900) 8376. It is the seat of a bishop, the port of the island, and a favourite watering-place. It is picturesquely situated on the west coast, 150 m. S. by E. of Stockholm by sea. The houses cluster beneath and above a cliff (klint) 100 ft. high, and the town is thoroughly medieval in appearance. The remains from its period of extraordinary prosperity from the 11th to the 14th century are of the highest interest. Its walls date from the end of the 13th century, replacing earlier fortifications, and enclose a space much larger than that now covered by the town. Massive towers rise at close intervals along them, and nearly forty are in good preservation. Between them are traces of bartizans. The cathedral church of St Mary dates from 1190-1225, but has been much altered in later times: it has a great square tower at the west end and two graceful octagonal towers at the east, and contains numerous memorials of the 17th century. There are ten other churches, in part ruined, none of which is used for service. Among those of chief interest St Nicholas', of the early part of the 13th century, formerly belonged to a Dominican monastery. It retains two beautiful rose-windows in the west front. The church of the Holy Ghost (Helgeands-Kyrka) in a late Romanesque style (c. 1250) is a remarkable structure with a nave of two storeys. The Romanesque St Clement's has an ornate south portal, and the churches of St Drotten and St Lars, of the 12th century, are notable for their huge towers. St Catherine's, of the middle of the 13th century, is Gothic, with a pentagonal apse. It belonged to a Franciscan convent, of the buildings of which there are slight ruins. Among ancient remains in the vicinity may be mentioned Galgberget, the place of execution, with tall stone pillars still standing; and the remarkable stone labyrinth of Trdjeborg. Modern buildings include the Gotland museum of antiquities, and the high school, with a museum and library. The artificial harbour, somewhat exposed, lies south of the ancient Hanseatic harbour, now filled up and covered with gardens. The town is the terminus of railways to north and south. It is the headquarters of the army division of Gotland troops, and there are some modern forts.

The name Visby is derived from the old Norse y e (sanctuary) and by (town). This was no doubt a place of religious sacrifice in heathen times. At any rate it was a notable trading-place and emporium as early as the Stone Age, and continued to enjoy its importance as such through the Bronze and Iron Ages, as is proved, inter alia, by the large number of Arabic, Anglo-Saxon and other coins which have been found on the island.. See Gotland and SEA Laws.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Visby n.

  1. a city on the island of Gotland


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