The first stop on Gotland for the summer bike-camping tour!
Visby is where the ferry comes in to Gotland, and has been an active harbour for hundreds of years. In roughly the Baltic Sea, Gotland was an important military and mercantile way-point that saw action from Vikings, Hanseatic league, and more recently as a Swedish military training ground complete with cold war-era bunker-lookouts. The name speaks to its early cultural/religious significance: ‘the village of sacrifices’, and religiousity continued even after the names of the gods changed. After the heyday of the middle ages it had a real economic lull and it was a relatively poor agricultural community. This meant not much population growth or building, so many of the old buildings have been preserved, or at least not scavenged for building materials. With lots of old churches and ruins to visit, these days it is a tourist haven with a population that swells in the summer. Picture a much larger version of the Sunshine Coast or a smaller, colder Hawai’i (I’m surprised someone hasn’t put one of the concrete bunkers on aribnb).
The old inner city is surrounded by a 3.4 km wall that ‘feels’ like a Roman wall you might see in Southern Europe, but was built in the 1200s. There are 11 ruins inside the city walls, mostly churches which make for a fun scavenger hunt through narrow twisty streets. We had a breif ride through on our first day, with plans to spend more time on our last day. We did a thorough walk through and architectural tour on our last day, but it was raining quite hard so the phones didn’t come out for photos. If you are keen to see more photos of Visby, there are some from my work trip there 10 years ago… not much has changed!