Karlskrona is a town in southern Sweden, in the historical province of Blekinge. The town has since its foundation in 1680 been an important base for the Swedish Navy and it is thanks to the long history has the old parts of the town are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The navy is still present and some parts of the town are still out of reach for many of us civilians, including many of the town’s around 37.000 inhabitants.
A Short History of Karlskrona
What later became Karlskrona was until the 17th century an island known as Trossö that in the 1670s had one sole household. The province of Blekinge had in 1658 become a part of Sweden after the Treaty of Roskilde with Denmark. In 1679 the King Karl XI of Sweden began the planning of a new town and Karlskrona received its town privileges in 1680. The establishment also meant that earlier Danish towns in the area, such as Kristanopel, lost their town statuses. Within a few decades, Karlskrona developed into the third largest town within the Swedish Empire, only behind Stockholm and Riga.
Karlskrona’s glory days declined as the Swedish Empire lost importance in the 18th century. If the Swedish Empire had survived, this might have been the new capital. Instead, Karlskrona continued as an important naval base. The town was still among the largest towns in a much smaller Sweden. However, other towns in Sweden Proper surpassed it in size. Thanks to the industrialization and arrival of the railway at the end of the 19th century Karlskrona becamse important in other aspects as well. In addition to the shipyard Karlskronavarvet, other industrial companies established themself in the town during the 20th century. These include Ericsson in 1946, Dynapac in 1960, and ABB in 1992.
The population of the town was around 10.000 at the beginning of the 18th century. That number started to grow during the 19th century and was at the beginning of the 20th century around 24.000.
Örlogsstaden Karlskrona, the naval town, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
Things to Do and See
There is a lot to explore in Karlskrona. Many of the historical areas and buildings are today a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and they are available for the public. There are, still, large parts of the town that aew off limit.
Sweden’s Naval Museum
Sweden’s Naval Museum, or Marinmuseum in Swedish, is on the small island of Stumholmen. Here you can hear, read, and see the history of the Swedish Navy. The stories are many, both about the country, the ships, and the men and women working around the navy.
Stumholmen is an island to the east of the town center. The island houses mostly military buildings that were built from the 18th century until the 1950s. This is where you will find Sweden’s Naval Museum, but also several other historical buildings previously used by the military. The island was closed to the public for around 300 years before it was opened up in 1993.
At Stumholmen you will also find several green areas as well as beaches that attract many visitors during the summer months.
Outside of the Karlskrona Admiralty Church is a tree sculpture known as Rosenbom. Rosenbom has been standing outside the church since at least the 18th century and has become a local celebrity. Well, it is actually a copy of the statue that has been standing outside the church since 1956, the original has since been standing more protected inside the church. The statue has a purpose, it is the poor box of the church, where church visitors could donate a coin for the poor. To do this, you had to follow the instructions on the large note the statue is holding. It will tell you to lift his hat.
There is a local legend related to the Rosenbom statue. There was a man in Karlskrona named Mats Hindriksson Rosenbom. He was one of the early inhabitants of the town who originally came from Åland. On New Years’ Eve 1717 he was begging for alms. Instead of money or food, he was often given alcohol. As he got drunker and drunker he eventually came to a captain named Lagerbielke. During their meeting, he dropped his hat when he was about to bow to say thanks. The captain then have joked and said something like “if you want a thank you from Rosenbom, then you have to lift his hat yourself”.
Unfortunately, things tunred quite badly for Rosenbom. He tried the same joke also at his next destination at the sculptor named Kolbe. Kolbe didn’t like joking and instead he chased away Rosenbom. Rosenbom was later found frozen to death leaning toward the wall of Karlskrona Admiralty Church. Kolbe felt so bad that he made a tree sculpture of the man to be standing outside the church.
The legend might not be true and many of the facts have been proven wrong. But that is usually the case with local legends, and there might be some truth hidden there somewhere.
Stortorget, the main square, is directly in the center of Karlskrona. The large square is home to a statue of King Karl XI of Sweden and is surrounded by important buildings. Here you will find Fredrik Church, the town’s main church from 1744. There is also the Trinity Church, also known as the German Church, which was completed already in 1709. Another building along the edges of the square is the former Karlskrona Town Hall from 1790. It does today houses the Blekinge District Court. These are just a few of the more important buildings, there are many more that are housing both shops and restaurants.
Karlskrona Admiralty Church
Karlskrona Admiralty Church is a wooden church dating back to 1685. It was supposed to be temporary and to be replaced by a larger stone church, but the money was not sufficient at the time. The timber the church is built with was transported from Riga, which was a part of Sweden at the time.
Quite far from the Admiralty Church is the church’s clock tower. The clock tower dates back to 1699 and was originally a part of the shipyard. It was later thought to be the clock tower of the stone church that was to replace the temporary Karlskrona Admiralty Church. A construction that was never completed, but the tower still stands there today.
Karlskrona HK at NKT Arena
Karlskrona HK is the local ice hockey team. As of the 22/23 season, the team is playing in the Swedish Hockeyettan, the third-tier league. The team did as recently as the season 2017/2018 play in SHL, the top-tier league of Sweden. After being demoted in 2018 they encountered economic difficulties and were eventually in 2020 forced down to the current league. In total, they have played three seasons in the SHL.
The team has its home base at NKT Arena, a bit to the north of the town. The arena was completed in 2005 and has since had several names, including Arena Rosenholm, Vodafone Arena Rosenholm, Telenor Arena Karlskrona och ABB Arena Karlskrona. After a reconstruction of the arena in 2016, it currently has a capacity of 5050. This makes it the 21st largest arena for ice hockey in Sweden.
IFK Karlskrona & HF Karlskrona at Brinova Arena
There are two handball teams from Karlskrona and currently, as of the 22/23 season, both are playing in Swedish Allsvenskan. That is the second-tier league in the country. IFK Karlskrona has earlier played 32 seasons in the top-tier league of Sweden but has never become champions. The last time the team was in the top league was during the 1994/1995 season. The second team, HF Karlskrona has played four seasons in the top-tier league, the last being the 2018/2019 season.
Both teams play their home games at Brinova Arena in central Karlskrona. The arena has a capacity of 2500 spectators during games. The arena was completed in 2019 and is also used for other sports as well as events.
How to Get to Karlskrona
Flights: The closest airport is Ronneby Airport (RNB) 34 kilometers away. The airport has a few domestic routes as well as seasonal charter flights.
Car: Karlskronais along road E22 between Kalmar and Karlshamn.
Bus: Buses from Blekingetrafiken connect Karlskrona with the surrounding region.
Train: Krösatåg and Öresundståg service Karlskrona Central Station. Destinations includes Emmaboda, Karlshamn, Kristianstad, Malmö, and Copenhagen.
The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:
Stockholm – 491 kilometers (5 h 50 min) Gothenburg – 349 kilometers (4 h 19 min) Malmö – 202 kilometers (2 h 18 min) Linköping – 305 kilometers (4 h) Kiruna – 1722 kilometers (19 h 58 min)
Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden