Gudhem, Västergötland – Exploring Sweden

Gudhem, or the home of the gods, is a small locality in a region that was earlier known as Skaraborg. It has a long history as a religious center and its abbey ruins are a popular stop for tourists. Today, the small locality has a population of around 450 inhabitants and its centre has moved away from the abbey. It is near Skara, Skövde and Falköping.

The place became famous after the publishing of the books about Arn Magnusson. It was in the local abbey that Arn’s betrothed Cecilia Algotsdotter was imprisoned for 20 years while Arn was fighting in the Holy Land. The writer of the series is Jan Guillou.

A Short History of Gudhem

Gudhem has a long religious history, dating back to the times before the area became Christian. The name, meaning the home of the gods, might refer to a temple for the god Thor in Norse mythology.

What we do know is that the nunnery of Gudhem was established here in the 12th century. This was one of the first convents in Sweden, after Vreta Abbey and Alvastra Abbey. The church in Gudhem was most likely constructed in the years following the establishment of Gudhem Abbey.

The nunnery survived until the Swedish reformation in 1527 when the crown confiscated it. The nuns continued to live in the abbey until a fire devastated it two years later. The abbey was never been rebuilt.

Things to Do and See

Gudhem is a popular stop for anyone following in the footsteps of Arn. The main attraction is, of course, the abbey ruins. There are, however, several more sights in the vicinity. One such sight is nearby Lake Hornborga. One of the more popular viewing points, Trandansen, is just a short distance north in Bjurum. There is also the small town of Falköping to the south.

Gudhem Abbey Ruins

This is the main sight for any visitor and one of the most historical sites in the area. The abbey ruins are located right next to the local church and are open to the public. This means that you are able to walk along the corridors that were once the home of the local nuns.

Gudhem Manor

Even though the abbey ruins might be the center of attention for anyone visiting Gudhem, it is Gudhems Kungsgård, or the Gudhem Manor, that has played the central part in the history of the locality. A Kungsgård is a royal estate and its purpose was to provide food for the king and his hird. Gudhems Kungsgård was donated to the Gudhem Abbey by Charles VII of Sweden in the mid 12th century. Since the dissolution of the abbey, the manor has for most of the time belonged to the Swedish crown again. In 1973 it once more got a private owner. It is today run as a private farm estate.

How to Get There

Flights: The closest larger airport is Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT) 125 kilometers away, with both domestic and international flights. Another option is Jönköping Airport (JKG), 74 kilometers away, with mostly chartered flights.
Car: Gudhem is on road 184 between Falköping and Skara.
Train: The closest train station is in nearby Falköping.
Bus: Regional and local buses connect Gudhem with the surrounding region.

The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:

Stockholm – 378 kilometers (4h 29min)
Gothenburg – 128 kilometers (1h 50min)
Malmö – 344 kilometers (4h 13min)
Linköping – 205 kilometers (2h 28min)  
Kiruna – 1475 kilometers (17h 48min)

Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden

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