Gammelstad Church Town

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In northern Sweden is a sparsely populated area where the locals had very far to go to the nearest church. This made it impossible for the locals to go to church on a regular Sunday – this turned out to be a problem when the Swedish king demanded all the citizen should go to church on certain religious holidays every year. to solve this problem the locals needed some sort of accommodation near the church they had to go to – around Sweden several church towns sprung up to accommodate the church goers.

Red houses along a small path

The modern time has made these church towns obsolete – there is no longer a requirement for the population to turn up for service on certain times – and in addition to this modern transportation has made a lot easier to get around in northern Sweden as well. Hence many of the church towns were torn down to make space for modern development instead. Only a few church towns have survived to this day.

One of the few church towns which have survived is Gammelstad which is located just outside the modern city of Luleå. The city is so well preserved it has actually been named a UNESCO world heritage as the best representative of the church towns which used to be spread across rural Sweden.

A street with red houses on both sides

We come to the town and find a place to park and can walk right into the old church town. The town has a lot of small red houses along the street. The houses is still privately owned and people do use them from time to time – though they are pretty small without the normal amenities modern people have gotten so used to having. The houses are small and usually without showers. When they were built there was no water in the houses – though most have modernized a bit to have water and electricity.

There doesn’t seem to be anybody staying at the village today so it is very quiet walking around the church town. There are a total of 520 buildings in the little town – 404 of them is the old cottages for worshippers some of which is actually subdivided so a total of 552 families can stay in the village at one time.


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