Thousands of visitors from near and far come to the world heritage church town of Gammelstad every year to experience the unique environment and feel history. The place is especially popular during the summer, when the church town is filled with both light and life with several places worth seeing and discovering. Here are 7 really good tips on how you can get the most, and best out of your visit to Gammelstad this summer.
Explore the crooked alleys
The best way to really experience the church town is to deviate from the straight and well-paved streets and instead find your way into the crooked alleys between the cottages. Here it is both crowded, crooked and windy, and it's easy to get lost among the hundreds of small red church cottages. Let yourself travel back in time a few hundred years. With a little imagination, you might even be able to hear the sound of clattering horse hooves and the swarming folk life. If you wander in among the cottages behind Framlänningsvägen, almost in front of the church tower, you will also find some of the church town's very best photo spots.
Visit Nederluleå church
Large and stately, Nederluleå church rises in the middle of the church mountain, as an interesting contrast to the small church cottages around. The church was built at the end of the 15th century and is Norrland's largest late medieval stone church, as beautiful inside as outside. Take a look at the beautiful interior with traces of three different eras, enjoy the tranquility and take the opportunity to take a break from the outside world.
Stroll in the city quarters
Many people associate Gammelstad with the church and the church cottages, but the cozy old town quarters are also not to be forgotten. Walk down along Gamla Hamngatan and then turn right to Apoteksvägen or Häradsvägen. Here you will find beautiful houses with origins from both the 17th and 18th centuries, in which wealthy merchants and other permanent residents used to live. It was in these neighborhoods that Luleå's old town was founded in 1621. Here it is perfect to stroll around, soak up the environment and see how present village life interacts with centuries of old history.
Experience the Open Air Museum Hägnan
Where Gamla Hamngatan ends and the green meadows take over, you will find the popular open-air museum Hägnan. Here there are plenty of fun activities for all ages, especially during summer when the whole area comes alive. Visit the old museum buildings and get an insight into life from the past. Visit the animals and let the children jump in the hay or do some carpentry. Here history and culture, as well as play are all mixed together. Hungry? Visit café Fägnan and enjoy a good lunch, delicious homemade ''Swedish fika'' or why not an ice cream.
Shop for local produce and handicrafts
Do you like Swedish delicacies such as cloudberry jam, field berry jam and homemade caramels? Perhaps you are looking for beautiful Sami crafts or traditional tin bracelets? In Gammelstad there are several small shops and studios that sell both handicrafts, souvenirs, honey from the area and much more. Inside the Visitor Center at Kyrktorget, you can pick up a map and get tips on how to get to the various places. There is also a small souvenir shop, a nice exhibition about Gammelstad and the possibility to book a guided tour of the church town.
Go on a hike to Gammelstadsviken
The small lake by Gammelstadsviken is what remains of what used to be the harbor entrance to Luleå Old Town. Here you can see traces of the still ongoing land raising, and the place offers beautiful nature and ancient history. Gammelstadsviken is today a popular nature reserve and it has for example been named as one of the county's best places for bird watching. Bring some coffee, swimwear and maybe binoculars, and enjoy a day in the nature. The hiking trail starts at the open-air museum Hägnan's parking lot, and is approximately 4 km long. The entire route is accessible, for everyone's equal opportunity to experience this special place.
Visit Gammelstad in the evening
The bright summer evenings are best experienced outdoors, and especially in a magical environment like Gammelstad. Bring the game ''kubb'', a picnic, family and friends to the church town during the evening, now it is calmer and most visitors have gone home. Down at Hägnan there is plenty of space for activities and games, fireplaces and wood for grilling sausages and even a dance floor if someone in the group wants to take a turn. The shops, cafes and museum gardens in the area may be closed, but the special environments around are more than enough to make it a summer evening well worth remembering.
Text: Emelie Rubensson