Gammelstad, whose name is translated from Swedish as “Old Town”, is located not far from the Swedish city of Luleå, in the northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia. It was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.
Gammelstad is the best-preserved example of a church city that was once widely distributed in northern Scandinavia. In the center of the city is the Nederleleo church of the beginning of the 15th century, surrounded by 408 wooden houses that have been systematically arising here for the next two centuries.
Such church settlements arose because the church was a religious center for large parishes, so small simple huts were necessary to use them on Sundays, and during religious holidays to accommodate believers from surrounding villages who did not managed to return home the same day because of a long distance or bad weather conditions. Due to the fact that people from all over the region flocked to such cities, they gradually turned into shopping centers.
At the end of the 17th century, Gamelstad was officially given the status of a city, but after 20 years it was moved to a new place, where today the city of Luleå is located. This transfer was undertaken due to the fact that initially Gammelstad was located on a small island, and the rise of the earth’s crust did not favor its further growth. Still approximately throughout an entire century both new, and old city actively developed.
Among the most famous visitors to Gammelstad was Karl Linnaeus, who came here to celebrate the night of Ivan Kupala in 1732.