Gothenburg, Sweden Amidst Wind and Rain - Day 1

Situated in the largest port of the Scandinavian peninsula lies the second largest Swedish city of Gothenburg. This city has deepen my understanding on the Nordic history, culture and tradition through a short vacation. Given that Gothenburg is maritime-oriented fortress city along the Gothia river, many ancient empires had interest on strategically-located area, as well as group of people aiming to reap benefits after gaining authority in the city. In fact, Gothenburg was heavily influenced by the Dutch, Germans and the Scots, who were tasked to develop the city given the swampy terrain of the area. Moreover, Gothenburg, located along the western Swedish coast, so in history has been a harbour for trade and emigration for Swedes bound for United States. All of these have made me interested on this city, so in this blogpost, I will enumerate and describe the various places I have seen within my two-day visit on the Swedish urban center.

1. Nordstan and Centralstation

Serving over 27 million passengers, the Gothenburg Central Station is the second largest Swedish railway station after Stockholm. In the 18th century, the station has been an exit point for emigrating Swedes to United States for greener pastures. Everyone who would visit Gothenburg can not ignore the magnificent people squares and parks surrounding the city central railway station.

Just on the other side of the Gothenburg Central Station is Nordstan, which is the Swedish largest shopping center. The shopping area is composed of several commercial blocks connected with roofs, forming a big shopping complex. There are undergoing constructions in the area to expand the area. The infrastructure was full of Christmas decorations that adds to the blissful atmosphere of the Yuletide season.

2.    Gustaf Adolfs Torg

On the western side of Nordstan is the a square dedicated to the Swedish king, who made a significant contribution for Gothenburg. It was only after Gustavus Adolphus asserted for establishment of Gothenburg that Sweden has successfully gained access to North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in spite of the threat of the Norwegian intrusion in the north and the Danish invasion from the south.

3.    Kungstorget and Saluhallen

Gothenburg's Royal Square or Kungtorget is one the first market squares since the 18th century after the city's fortification was destroyed. The square is near Gustaf Adolfs Torg, where timber trade has been popular in the previous two centuries. The area is the location of Saluhallen,where currently meat products are sold, which serves as contrast to the Fish Church in the Kungsparken, which houses fish markets and restaurants.
Within Saluhallen, the biggest market for spices, coffee, cheese, fruit and various delicacies from different areas in the world. The smell and sight in Saluhallen features the amalgamation of cultures with that of the Nordic and the Swedish tradition. The marketplace is not just busy trade area, but also an historic and symbolic establishment of great importance for the Swedish people.

Trädgårdsföreningen and Palmhuset
After crossing major canals from the main city area where Royal Square is located, is the Garden Society of Gothenburg, which is one of the most preserved garden in the European continent. During the summer period, the garden features roses, carpet beddings and lush woodlands. During the time of my visit, the autumn weather hindered me to appreciate the area, as well as the wind and rain made it difficult and safe to roam around the area. However, I could still see the traditional significance of these gardens.
Within the Garden Society of Gothenburg is the Palmhuset, which is a bite version of London's Crystal Palace. This greenhouse has one the largest collection of palm and roses. Given that I am originally from a tropical country, the Philippines. The Palmhuset reminded me of my childhood and my roots, full of good memories in the lush garden of my grandmother and our neighborhood, where I used to play and be with my friends.
 Palmhuset provides a good contrast of the windy and rainy Autumn weather, since the greenhouse is humid and warm comparably of a tropical area like the Philippines. The greenhouse also attempts to use plants as an object of artwork and inspiration for the Christmas season. Moreover, there are many benches where one could relax and enjoy the quasi-tropical atmosphere.

5.    Slussgatan
Along Scandinavia's largest tram network is the Slussgatan, which is on the Northern border of the Garden Society of Gothenburg. Slussgatan is located along the small branch of the Gota Canal, which connects lakes, rivers and canals from Gothenburg to Stockholm. The canal in Slussgatan connects with the Gota River to inland Swedish lakes between the two largest Swedish cities.  This is the largest waterwork construction in the 19th century. The technology used for travel of boats and ferries uses the same technology used in the construction of  Panama Canal.

6.    Gamla Ullevi

Going along the Gothenburg canals, one could see buildings and infrastructues influenced by various architectural eras. Aside from Neoclassical architecture influence, functionalism has permeated in the Swedish landscape as evidenced by Gamla Ullevi, the site of 1958 FIFA World Cup. The multi-purpose stadium also hosts sports events in football, ice hockey, boxing and athletics.

7.    Vasakyrkan

Another architectural building is Vasa Church, which is built of granite inspired by the Neo-Romanesque style. The Vasa Church lies on the Vasa Park, which is quite near from the University of Gothenburg. The church when my visit is preparing for the Christmas season, featuring series of concerts and traditional ceremonies.

8.    Götaplatsen

In the 20th century, architecture has been influenced by Neoclassical look. This is manifested in Götaplatsen. In the center of the square is a huge statue of the Greek god Poseidon, which has been a symbol of Gothenburg's rich maritime history. 
9.    Göteborgs konstmuseum

Marking the end of the city's major road Kungsportsavenyn is the Gothenburg Museum of Art, which houses the artworks of Nordic and famous international artists, such as Monet, Rembrandt and Picasso.

10. Högskolan för scen och musik

The Academy for Music and Drama is a branch of the University of Gothenburg primarily to educate composers, performance artists and singers. Outside the building is park, which is accessible from the Gothenburg Museum of Art. Interestingly this park connects the Gothenburg Museum of Art and the famous amusement park, Liseberg.

11. Gothia Towers

Finished in 2015, the three towers facing Liseberg is four-star hotel with tower heights ranging from 77 to 100 meters, housing 1200 rooms. Gothia Towers is one of the largest European hotels ever built in the modern times, thereby become a modern symbol of Swedish progress and economic resilience in the midst of global economic recession and downtrend. 

12. Liseberg

Attracting 3 million visitors annually, Liseberg is considered by Forbes in 2005 as one of the world's top ten amusement parks. It is located just adjacent the Gothia Towers, making it an important tourist destination, not just for the people of Gothenburg, but also of the Kingdom of Sweden.
With its over thirty attractions, this park features a theater center, different shops and exhibitions on Viking history and Nordic tradition and culture.
During the summer and Christmas season, Liseberg makes sure that the visitors will enjoy not just the rides but the atmosphere suited for the season.
This park has attracted people of all ages and from different cultures. In addition, there are several areas also that would be appropriate for certain age groups and background.
Ofcourse, Liseberg would not forget to feature the Viking history, given that Gothenburg is not just an important port, but also an ancient Viking settlement area in the ancient times.
Given that Christmas is fast approaching during my visit, there are also attractions in Liseberg dedicated for Santa Claus or the Swedish Jultomten. Children and some accompanying adults have to stand in long lines to meet Santa Claus and deliver the wishlist for Christmas.
The best moment for me is to see a real reindeer, just outside the Christmas attraction. This was my first time and I know not all will be able to meet reindeer in their lifetime.
One of the most famous attraction is the 116-meter Liseberg's free fall tower, the AtmosFear. Although it was not opened for the public during my visit, the tower was surrounded by lights resembling a big Christmas tree, which is seen all throughout the city. 
Another renowned attraction is Liseberg Ferris Wheel, which is only open for Christmas, Halloween and the summer period. They are many, who claims that this is the Swedish counterpart of United Kingdom's London's Eye. Although it was heavily raining, one could not ignore the beautiful Swedish landscape and fantastic view of the Gothia towers as seen on top of the Liseberg Ferris Wheel.
A perfect way to end the day is to see the Ice Show, which is inspired by Scandic fairytales and Christmas tradition that attracts most children and adults as well. 
At the end of my first vacation day in Gothenburg, I was actually very exhausted, but I enjoyed every place I have seen. It was different from what I am used to. It provided me a lot of realizations that even Scandinavian countries although seen with close resemblance have contrasting unique traditions and customs. These differences are manifested on the infrastructures in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.


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