Not many people know that the city of Luleå has not always been where it is today. Gammelstad, outside Luleå on the road to Boden, used to be the city centre up until the 17th century, before it was moved closer to the sea and the harbour where it lies today. When the city moved, it was named the New City of Luleå (Luleå Nya Stad) and the old one became The Old City of Luleå (Luleå Gamla Stad). The names were soon shortened to Luleå and Gammelstad respectively.
Gammelstad is home to a unique cultural environment. Here you can find the largest late medieval stone church in Northern Sweden, from 1492 and the largest and most well-preserved church town in Sweden with more than 400 church cottages.
The church cottages were built by local farmers in a time when attendance at church services was mandatory and the great distances in Northern Sweden made one-day visits impossible. However, Gammelstad was not only visited for these reasons, social gatherings were also important. During the church weekends, the alleys were crowded with people in weekend dress, the church bells rang, and friendships were made, maintained and broken. The distinctive cultural environment is well preserved and harbours an atmosphere of days gone by. When you stroll through the church town, it doesn’t take much imagination to visualise the farmers arriving at there to build their cottages. Gammelstad Church Town has been a designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1996, meaning that it is covered by the UN Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. This year is the 20th anniversary of the appointment and it will be celebrated! Throughout the year, programs for fami- lies and individual visitors, connoisseurs and explo- rers are offered. The open-air museum Hägnan, a stone’s throw away from the church town, is also worth a visit when you are in Gammelstad.
The open-air museum Hägnan, a stone’s throw from the church town is also worth a visit. At Hägnan you can see what life was like in a coastal regional village between the 18th and 20th century. The museum has buildings from all over Swedish Lapland and offers rich, varied activities and expe- riences for all ages. After having a little something to eat at Café Fägnan, a walk around the open-air museum will do you good. Alternatively, you can bring your own picnic basket and sit down on the grass. There is a lot to see, and you shouldn’t miss the shop that takes you back in time.
With a guide in Gammelstad Church Town
The church town is an exciting place with a rich history. The best way to experience the church town is to join a guided tour. Visitor Centre in Gammelstad Church Town offers different types of guided tours during summer. No registration is required and the tours are held in several languages. Each tour takes about an hour.
World heritage tour
Daily at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm • 11 June–31 August
Learn about the history of Gammelstad Church Town, how the church cottages are used today and why Gammelstad is a world heritage site. During the tour you will get to visit a church cottage and Nederluleå Church.
Children’s guided tour
Mondays to Fridays at 12 am • 13 June–19 August
This is a tour for our youngest visitors. Let the whole family tag along and experience the world heritage site – play and learn. Free for all children under 16 years.
Daily at 3 pm • 20 June–18 August
This tour provides an insight in the lives of the region’s farmers
– how the church town arose and what the farmers did there. After a stroll through among the church cottages you will stroll down to the open-air museum Hägnan to learn about the farmers lives back at the farm. The tour ends at Storgården at the openair museum.
Guided tour in the church town and open-air museum Hägnan
Daily at 3 pm • 20 June–18 August
This tour provides an insight in the lives of the region’s farmers – how the church town arose and what the farmers did there. After a stroll through among the church cottages you will stroll down to the open-air museum Hägnan to learn about the farmers lives back at the farm. The tour ends at Storgården at the open-air museum.
The Visitor Centre can be found in the middle of the church town, in the old Betel Chapel which dates back to the 19th century. At the Visitor Centre, you can find information about Luleå and Swedish Lapland in general and Gammelstad in particular. There is a slide show, a world heritage exhibition and a small souvenir shop.