Skara, Västergötland – Exploring Sweden

Skara is a locality with a thousand-year history. It lies between the two largest lakes in Sweden, Lake Vättern and Lake Vänern, in a region that is still known as Skaraborg. Skara hasn’t grown much over the centuries and is today the home to around 11.600 inhabitants.

Today it is famous as a summer destination due to the amusement park in its vicinity. In regards to business it is the home of manufacturer of meat product Scan and the retail store Jula.

A Short History of Skara

Skara is one of the oldest towns in Sweden, but its history is a bit diffuse. We know that it existed already in the end of the 11th century. It is believed that the foundation of the cathedral was laid already in the beginning of the 1000’s. The town has played an important part in making the town a regional centre.

In addition to the cathedral, Skara had during the Middle Ages three parish churches and two monasteries. The two monasteries were founded in the mid 13th century and survived to the 16th century and the time of King Gustaf Vasa and the reformation in Sweden. The reformation saw the end to many of the churches in the town and it being a religious centre. One of the monasteries was demolished on orders from the king while the other was rebuilt into Skaraborg Castle in the end of the 16th century. The castle didn’t survive for many decades before misfortunes struck. The Danes demolished it in in 1612.

Skaraborg County was established in 1634, and it was named after the earlier demolished castle in Skara. Skara was the county capital until 1660 when it moved to Mariestad. Together with Gothenburg, Bohus County and Älvsborg County, it formed Västra Götaland County in 1998.

Things to Do and See

There are many sights in and around Skara. For anyone looking for excursions there are the Varnhem Abbey Church, the stone ship in Amundtorp and bird watching at the lake Hornborgasjön. All of these are within easy reach from the town,

The Cathedral

The gothic cathedral is the centre-piece of the Skara skyline and it has a history dating back a millennia. The current appearance is, however, a lot newer. The cathedral has been damaged and restored multiple times during its long history. Nonetheless, it is very impressive for a town of such small size. The narrow and irregular cobblestone streets around the building remind visitors of the town’s long medieval history,

Skara-Lundbrunn Railway and Railway Museum

Skara was once part of the railway network, with regular train services. All that is left today is the railway museum and its museum railway connecting Skara with Lundbrunn. The museum showcases many engines and other artefacts from the heyday of the railroad, the first half of the 20th century.

Västergötland Museum & Fornbyn

Västergötland Museum is close to the centre of Skara and it showcases 10.000 years of the county’s history. There are plenty of both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Right next to the museum is the open-air museum Fornbyn. Here you will find around 30 buildings from the 19th century, showing the life of the past.

Brunsbo Meadow

Right outside of Skara is Brunsbo Meadow. The meadow includes one of the largest hayfields that has been preserved in Sweden. The area is since 1972 a nature reserve.

The Old Library

The Old Library is housed in a brick building that dates back to 1859. Its exhibitions are, however, much older. The library includes the oldest known book in Sweden. The “Skara Missal” dates back to 1150. However, it is not clear where the book originates from.

Veterinary Museum

Skara has a long history in the veterinary fields. It was here that the first veterinary school in Sweden was opened by Peter Hernqvist, a disciple of Linneaus, in 1775. The museum provides an insight into the history of veterinary medicine and sciences from the start at the 18th century until today.

Skara Sommarland

Skara Sommarland is a summer theme park outside of Skara. It opened its doors in 1984 and is today one of the major amusement parks in Scandinavia with around 300.000 visitors during a non-pandemic summer. It is especially the water park that attracts visitors during hot summer days.

How to get to Skara

Flights: The closest larger airport is Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT) 121 kilometres away, with both domestic and international flights. Another option is Jönköping Airport (JKG), 96 kilometres away, with mostly chartered flights.
Car: The town is at the intersection of the roads 49, 184 and E20. Along road 49 it is between Lidköping and Skövde. Road 184 connects the town with Falköping and the E20 to many towns between Göteborg and Stockholm, the closest ones being Vara and Götene.
Train: The easiest way to reach a train station from Skara is in nearby Skövde. There are no longer any passenger trains to Skara.
Bus: Regional and local buses connect Skara with the surrounding region.

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

Stockholm – 356 kilometers (3h 54 min)
Gothenburg – 129 kilometers (1 h 43 min)
Malmö – 387 kilometers (4 h 25 min)
Linköping – 227 kilometers (2 h 36 min)  
Kiruna – 1453 kilometers (17 h 39 min)

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

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