Skip to main content

Göteborg: Sweden's Second City (Where Gumbo Was, #105)

105 Henrik Sendelbach

I begin this blog with some odd notes. First, unlike TravelGumbo in his “Where Is” travels, I’ve never been to GÖteborg—yet. All, or nearly all, our previous puzzles have been based on the puzzler’s experience—so why this?


Vasagatan, above, and GÖteborg's Central Station GothenburgCentral Matthew McPherson

Well, sometimes you begin to feel an affinity for a place before you get there. In my case, it’s happened repeatedly through my reading of mystery novels with a strong sense of place. As a child, I spent a good amount of time in and around late Victorian London with Holmes and Watson, and years later I “lived” in Inspector Maigret’s Paris of the 30s and 40s.


At Salander's door, in Stockholm


These days, we find ourselves trailing our detective reading. A few years ago, our first visit to Scandinavia took us to the doorway of Lisbeth Salander’s home (above) in Stockholm and to the doorstep of Kurt Wallander’s police station in Ystad. In Oslo, we looked for scenes from Jo Nisbo’s Harry HÖle novels. When we were last in Venice, we hired a guide to show us Guido Brunetti’s Venice. And when we someday get to GÖteborg it will be to find Detective Inspector Irene Huss and her chef-husband.

Barken_Viking Par Henning

The historic bark Viking along the city's waterfront


Through reading nearly a dozen of her books (some engaging, some disappointing) we’ve come to have a sense of her city—a large and solid place, but troubled by undercurrents of displacement and stress, including all the current European issues of immigration, drugs, changing culture and more. A place with a different sense of itself than Stockholm, but not as rural or small-town as the haunts of other Swedish detective writers. Well, anyway: sooner or later I expect to get to where TravelGumbo was for puzzle #105, which began with this puzzling image, drawn, it happens from Google maps.



Below are some more scenes of old and new in GÖteborg, and a bit more information. Oh! I almost forgot. You’ve been waiting to find out what the original puzzle picture was. Here’s a drill-down to the same scene, with help from the ever-useful Google Maps.



It's a scene in the Östra kyrkogarden, or Eastern Churchyard, opened in 1860, rather different from the sort of large cemeteries we've seen from the period in other countries. Think Green-Wood in Brooklyn, Highgate in London, Mt. Auburn in Boston. More geometric, fewer big monuments. Here's a ground-level view.


kyrkos2 GM


The city has an interesting history; it's at the gateway to the North Sea and the Atlantic, and when Gustav II Adolf established it in the early 1600s, it was only a thin strip of Swedish land, sandwiched between hostile Danish and Norwegian territory. Because the area was so marshy, he hired Dutch planners and engineers to lay out and build. Small wonder then that a close map look shows that in the original area, the streets and canals are a near twin for early Jakarta, built at around the same time, along with New Amsterdam. The Dutch hung around long enough that it didn't become a really Swedish city until 30 years later.  Later influences included Scots who settled in the 1700s, and Germans.

1024px-Brunnsparken_Göteborg J Logen A few years later, the city could breathe a little easier; the Danish and Norwegian territory almost surrounding it became Swedish, and the city became Sweden’s main foreign trade port. Starting in the 1730s, the Swedish East India Company built up a big trade with China. Fishing was also big. GÖteborg is still the largest port in Scandinavia. Its trading success helped it later become a center of heavy industry including Volvo and Ericsson.


Some of that historic connection to the sea may be why the city has 20,000 sailboats for its half-million residents. Above, some of them, with the so-called "Lipstick Building," a controversial recent addition in the background.



WITW105-3 Irene Huss, my detective, and her family, including two teen daughters, are all deeply involved in sports and music; one daughter is in a rock band.  Not surprising in a city that’s an important scene for sports and music, and is home to a number of annual music and film festivals, as well as the second-largest outdoor stadium in Scandinavia. The city has three pro football (soccer) teams, including the first ever in Sweden (1892). Above, the annual Way Out West music festival, and the modernistic Opera House.



This puzzling clue is the Feskekorka, or in old words, Fish Church. It was never actually a church; built in 1874 as a riverside market for the fishing industry, it got its name from its appearance. Here's the inside:

1024px-Feskekôrka_september_2010 The city's architectural styles reflect not only its founders and builders, and the trade it played host to, but also to a few local quirks. Haga Nygatan is the main street of an older neighborhood, where workers lived in buildings constructed entirely of wood. For obvious reasons, it's the only one like that that's been preserved.


1024px-Haganygata Erik of Gothenburg

 By the mid 19th century, local legislators had banned wooden construction higher than two floors; the increasing growth of the city was already leading to taller buildings. Builders, always anxious to avoid increasing their costs, came up with this solution: a type of building called a LandshÖvdingehus. Its main characteristic is that the permitted two stories are stacked on top of a one-to-two story brick or stone base. It was immediately ruled illegal, but the builders won in court. It's a unique local style.



 And since, it appears, I can never finish a blog without a church of some sort in it, and the Feskekorka doesn't count, we'll finish with the Oskar-Fredriks-kyrka, a splendid red-brick confection from the 1890s.


Oscar_Fredriks_kyrka_1 FredJ




Images (17)
  • 105 Henrik Sendelbach
  • 768px-Göteborg_-_Sailing-Axt
  • 1024px-Brunnsparken_Göteborg J Logen
  • 1024px-Feskekörka-1 dcastor
  • 1024px-Haganygata Erik of Gothenburg
  • 1024px-Way_out_west-entrance-Fluff
  • Barken_Viking Par Henning
  • Cafezenit..Landshövdingehus-hjemo
  • GothenburgCentral Matthew McPherson
  • kyrkos2 GM
  • Oscar_Fredriks_kyrka_1 FredJ
  • WITW105.1
  • WITW105.2
  • WITW105
  • aP1010805
  • 1024px-Feskekôrka_september_2010
  • WITW105-3

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Add Comment

Comments (1)

Newest · Oldest · Popular
Link copied to your clipboard.