The locality of Kungälv has a long history in the border region between the three countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Its history has been bloody, but it has left a few majestic sights in the area. The most prominent of these is the Bohus Fortress. Once upon a time, it defended Norway’s southern parts, now it is a ruin that still guards the town’s around 19.900 inhabitants.
A Short History of Kungälv
Kungälv earlier went by the name Kongahälla, which has been found in written sources from the first half of the 12th century. It was at the time a Norwegian town and it is believed to have been the location for the meeting of the three nordic kings in 1101. Historians believe that the meeting resulted in a peace agreement between the kings of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The town of Kongahälla saw many troubles during the centuries and was destroyed multiple times.
In 1614, the town moved closer to the Bohus Fortress and a name change was initiated. However, Swedes destroyed the town in 1645. As a result of the peace treaty of Roskilde in 1658K, Kungälv and the rest of the province of Bohuslän became a part of Sweden. The population at the time was estimated to be around 600 to 800 inhabitants.
The Bohus Fortress dates back to the early 14th century and was originally intended for the defense of Norway’s southern border. The fortress has seen many sieges and battles but has never surrendered in battle. That has, however, not saved the surrounding area from trouble. The fortress was in use until the end of the 18th century and has since been partially dismantled.
The focus for the town eventually shifted to fishing and the population passed 1000 at the beginning of the 19th century. Fishing was replaced by farming during industrialization and one of its largest employers, Göteborgs Kex AB, opened their factory here in 1888. In fact, the factory is planned to move to Riga in 2022). In addition to local employers, the town has since the 1950s been further integrated into the nearby and much larger city of Gothenburg.
Things to Do and See
When there is a fortress around, it is usually hard for other attractions and sights to get any spotlight. That is kind of the effect in Kungälv, with the impressive Bohus Fortress. There are, luckily, a few more sights and activities to attract visitors. And for anyone looking for more fortresses, it is not too far to Carlsten Fortress in Marstrand. And for excursions to bigger cities, the obvious choice is Gothenburg.
The 14th-century Bohus Fortress is most likely the main attraction for anyone visiting Kungälv. The fortress ruins are open to visitors, with an entrance fee. The fortress is an impressive sight when arriving at its foot, with the large tower overlooking the area. Even though it was partially dismantled at the end of the 18th century, much is still standing.
During our visit in 2021, there were several activities available for kids, such as different games inspired by the times of the knights.
Hembygdsgården at Fästningsholmen
At the foot of the Bohus Fortress is a small house that is used by the local heritage foundation. The house did earlier house the local priest but was moved to its current location in the 1930s.
Mimers Kulturhus is the town’s cultural center. It houses a public library, an art gallery, and a theater. There are for us no known entrance fees to the public library or the art exhibitions as of 2021.
Outdoor Swimming Pools at Skarpe Nord
For anyone looking for somewhere to swim and who doesn’t want to do so in the river or to leave Kungälv, there are a few options left. One of these is the outdoor swimming pools at Skarpe Nord. The area is managed by the local swimming association and the local handball club.
The central streets can by themself sometimes be a sight. In Kungälv the center includes shops, cafés, and restaurants on a handful of streets.
The Old Square
The Old Square is located close to the Bohus Fortress and a few of the more historical buildings in Kungälv. This is where the church is located, it was built at the end of the 17th century.
How to Get to Kungälv
- Flights: there are domestic and international routes at Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT), which is 45 kilometers away.
- Train: The closest train station is in nearby Ytterby.
- Car: Kungälv is along highway E6 between Gothenburg and Stenungsund.
- Bus: Local and regional buses connect Kungälv with the surrounding region.
The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:
- Stockholm – 486 kilometers (5h 16min)
- Gothenburg – 23 kilometers (21min)
- Malmö – 292 kilometers (3h 5min)
- Linköping – 294 kilometers (3h 9min)
- Kiruna – 1577 kilometers (18h 18min)
Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden