Älvsborg FortressOn our first time in Sweden, we visited this beautiful fortress close to Gothenburg
The first time we visited Sweden, we also visited Älvsborg Fortress in Gothenburg. This large fortress is located, strategically, in Göta River since it was built to protect what was then the only access Sweden had to the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. But the fortress we visited isn’t the first one built to protect what would become Gothenburg later.
Before this fortress, Sweden had the Old Älvsborg Fortress. This fortress was built on the mainland and, today, only a few ruins can be seen close to the Carnegie Pier. But this fortress wasn’t destroyed. It was dismantled and relocated to one of the islands in the Göta River. This is why, sometimes, you see New Älvsborg Fortress (Nya Elfsborg in swedish) written online.
All this moving and construction work happened in the 17th century and the fortress even gave its name a Swedish settlement in North America. Fort Nya Elfsborg was the name of it before it was abandoned in 1655. Since Gothenburg was the main center for Swedish immigration to North America, the fortress was one of the last sights seen by the emigrants and this is why the name worked. Too bad it didn’t last long.
A Little bit of History from the Old Älvsborg Fortress
The Old Älvsborg Fortress was built in the 14th century, a few hundred years before Gothenburg was founded. The fortress was built to protect Lödöse, the settlement that preceded Gothenburg on the mouth of the Göta River. This fortress was especially important since the area north of it was part of Norway until 1658 and the area south of it used to belong to Denmark until 1645.
So, the Old Älvsborg Fortress was built to protect what is not the entrance to Gothenburg but the Danes conquered the fortification several times before it was expanded. It even burned down in 1521 by danish forces. During the Northern Seven Years’ War, the Swedish forces burned the city to avoid letting Denmark capture it but the danes ended up capturing the fortress. To have it back, Sweden had to pay a high price. Precisely 150,000 riksdaler. This was too much money and the people, already in poor shape after the way, had to pay.
After several battles and a lot of destruction, finally, in the 17th century, the New Älvsborg Fortress was built. Built in a small island where the Göta River meets the sea, this fortress was built to protect Gothenburg, founded in 1621 by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, from whoever might come from the sea. It worked out and the fortress still stands today and a listed building and a popular tourist attraction.
Gothenburg was the first place we ever visited in Sweden and we only went there for a wedding. Our friends Lalai and Ola, from the always great blog Chicken or Pasta, got married in the New Älvsborg Fortress in a beautiful ceremony. Because of them we managed to visit this beautiful place that has so much history.
If you’re ever in Sweden’s most important cities like Gothenburg or even Stockholm, pay attention to the surroundings. You’ll most certain to be amazed. Actually, a cool pro tip for those visiting Stockholm is to take a look at this post by Europe Diaries. They are showing a cool hidden gem right outside Sweden’s capital.