The Town hall
The Town Hall in Vimmerby is most likely the town’s first architect-designed house, and was built in 1824-1825, just a few years after the latest of many fires that had devastated Vimmerby. The Town Hall is one of Vimmerby’s seven listed buildings. Many decisions have been made and multiple landmarks have been noted by the town’s officials and politicians in the beautiful chamber on the second floor. Today you will find Vimmerby’s Tourist Office on the bottom floor.
The main square
Markets have been a part of Vimmerby since as early as the 1500s, and maybe even longer than that. When Carl IX returned the town charter it was added into the muniment that the town would organise three markets annually. This tradition still lives on today, presented through the three markets held in May, October and December.
Astrid Lindgren’s statue
The Astrid Lindgren statue at the Main Square in Vimmerby depicts Astrid Lindgren sitting at the typewriter in her study. The statue was inaugurated the 1st of June in 2007, and is designed by Marie-Louise Ekman. There’s a vacant chair standing in front of the statue of Astrid Lindgren, so feel free to sit down and have somebody take a picture!
The city hotel
In the magnificent work ”Sveriges städer” (”Cities of Sweden”) released in 1915, you can read the following: ”…opposite of the town hall on the northern side of the square you will find the city hotel, which for a community this small is a quite impressive building, that was built in the 1860s. The hotel had dining rooms, a café, a billiard room, a larger and a smaller saloon for festivities, and 12 traveller rooms.”
The railway plans and Vimmerby’s position as trade centre most certainly played large roles that contributed to the hotel getting built.
Vimmerby Warmbadhus was built in 1906. At first it wasn’t just a house for baths, but part of the building also served as power station. In 1977, however, bath time was over as the power station took over that part of the building as well. Today Wambadhuset and Vimmerby Art Union is a meeting place – not for baths and washing, but for art and culture.
Along the beautiful street Storgatan you will find a few of Vimmerby’s listed buildings. First, at Storgatan 3 you will find the wooden house called Borgmästargården. Continue up the street to number 16 to view Tenngjutaregården from the early eighteenth century. On Storgatan 19 you will find Hammarskjöldska garden, a former trading place that was painted blue before the light beige color the house now has. Opposite Hammarskjöldska garden, on Storgatan 28, you will find Rådmansgåden in which well-preserved Chinese wall paintings from the late eighteenth century have been found.
One of the most notable building is the yellow Grankvistgården located just next to Klemns Gränd on Storgatan 32. In 1963 Grankvistgården, most likely built before 1700, was announced as a listed building. Well preserved baroque paintings from an unknown painter was discovered during the curing work when the house was discovered.
Axel Munthe’s childhood in Vimmerby
An interesting little story we would like to mention is the one about the well-known doctor and author Axel Munthe, who lived at Storgatan and went to school in Vimmerby for a couple of his younger years. His father was a pharmacist, and in the middle of the 1800s, you would find the pharmacy at Storgatan 25. The Munthe family had their residence in the same building. The family left Vimmerby in 1867, and Axel would continue school in the Royal capital. The fact that Axel become, among other things, queen Viktorias personal physician and created Villa San Michele on Capri is however a completely different story.
Vimmerby Tidning, Vimmerby Newspaper
A lively 160-year-old
Vimmerby Tidning (the newspaper) was founded by Nils Magnus Thörneqvist 1856, but was at the time called Wimmerby Weckotidning. The first examples ever were presumably printed here, in this house on Storgatan 35, where Nils ran a book store. Wimmerby Tidning has later been located in several of the houses along Storgatan.
Did you know that Astrid Lindgren started her writing career back in the early 20s at the newspaper in Vimmerby? After having worked as volunteer for a while with duties such as phone answering, proofreading, writing news items and theatre reviews, running errands and writing obituaries, she would eventually get to produce lesser article series and reportages.
The Anglo-Saxon coin
In 1939 excavations were made at Båtsmansbacken, in central Vimmerby. Here, they found an Anglo-Saxon coin of “quatrefoil” type. This kind of coin was minted in England by mint-master God during early 1000s, right around the time Knut the Great was king of England. If you are interested in how the coin looks, you can find it at the museum Näktergalen here in Vimmerby.
Båtmansbacken and Båtmansgrän (”Boatswain Hill” and “Boatswain Alley”) got their name from the simple fact that this is where the boatswains lived, back in the day. Similar to how the parishes out in the country needed to provide one foot soldier per unit, the towns had to provide boatswains. In the case of Vimmerby they had to provide four boatswains, one for every ten burgher. When recruiting, the man had to be no less than 18 years of age, or older than 36. The one who would become boatswain had to be well built, strong and preferably tall. To be healthy and free of any type of handicap was a matter of course.
Båtsmansbacken is today one of Vimmerby’s idyllic districts, but it was once the home to some of Vimmerby’s poorest. This is where the zealous stadsfiskal (a sort of prosecutor) Bengt Giöterström would come during the 1740s, whenever there had been a theft or other kinds of criminal activity.
Astrid Lindgren & Kalle Blomqvist
In an article from the 5th of February 2003, published in Vimmerby Tidning, you could read that Astrid Lindgrens drew inspiration from Båtsmansbacken when she wrote about Master Detective Kalle Blomqvist. With just a bit of imagination, you can almost see him sneaking around the alleys here, trying to solve a new mystery.
Town museum Näktergalen
Saved by paintings
The town museum Näktergalen is a listed building, and was built around 1740, with timbered wall, one floor tall. Population registry testify that the house has been in the ownership of wealthy burghers such as aldermen, stadsfiskal (a sort of prosecutor) and land surveyors. During the mid-1800s a second floor was added, and decorated with cover boarding. Things were about to turn sideways for Näktergalen since the house, which had served as shop premises, received a demolition order. Luckily, the extensive interior paintings on the walls and roof were found. This saved the house from demolition, and the paintings were preserved so that visitors, like yourself, would have the chance to enjoy them.
The early churches
Vimmerby has been Christianised for a thousand years! We know for sure that there was a church in Vimmerby in the mid-1200s, and that the name of the priest in 1253 was Henricus Erici. The church was probably even older than that, since the baptismal font found there was dated to late 1100s.
Church upon church upon church
The church you see today is the fifth so far, built in the same place as the earlier ones, this time during mid-1800s, replacing Karolinekyrkan from 1685. The church is built in neo classicist style, and consists of a low nave, and a church tower to the west.
Samuel August’s proposal
Just by the bench in front of Vimmerby church you can read the story, written by Astrid Lindgren herself, about her father Samuel Augusts’s proposal to Astrid’s mother Hanna.
From wetlands to listed building
Källängsparken in Vimmerby was declared a listed building in the summer of 2010. This is a unique park from the 50s, and will be preserved and developed in the future. Källängen used to be very moist, but the wet soil was blessed with new life when landscape gardener Ulla Bodorff designed the park. Back in the days you would play hockey here during winter, but today it’s mostly tennis and boule.
Gästgivarehagen is located on a slight south-facing slope in the south-eastern part of the town. Before the lakes were lowered, this place bordered to Vimmerby’s “mader”, which used to be a shallow lake a very long time ago. There’s a well-preserved cist grave here which indicates that Gästgivarehagen was used as a funeral place as far back as the early Stone Age.
Grave fields & Vikings
This is where two grave fields were discovered which, in combination, contained around 300 graves. These grave fields were being used from somewhere around year 700-800 to when Vimmerby’s first church was built. These findings show that the Vikings were long distance travellers, with trade contacts in the east. Among these findings were buckles, pearls, coins, arm rings, pendants, knives, potsherds, keys, weights and more. However, no weapons were found.
The name Gästgivarehagen derives from the time when the town’s rural innkeeper used the area as pasture. Today, however, it’s an open-air museum holding a number of buildings from the 1700s and 1800s that has been moved here. Östra Tullstugan is the first building moved to Gästgivarehagen as early as 1927.
A place for farmers and priests
In the Middle Ages, just outside the little trading town Vimmerby in the judicial district Sevede in northern Småland, stood once a little rural village with a few farms, of which the largest was Näs. The owner, Johan Mörkse, donated the farm in Näs to Vimmerby’s priests in year 1411. Priests would live and worked in this priest farm for the following centuries.
This is where a world-renowned author grew up
Early in the 1900s Samuel August Ericsson and his wife Hanna leased the farm in Näs, which is the big white house. A couple of years later, Samuel and Hanna had a daughter whom they named Astrid. Using her upbringing in Näs as source of inspiration, she wrote a large amount of children’s books which in turn shaped the childhood for a lot children from many generations. The one we are talking about is, of course, one of the world’s most loved children’s books author – Astrid Lindgren.
Did you know that the yellow house, next to Astrid Lindgrens’s red childhood home, is the one she drew inspiration from when writing about Pippi Longstocking’s house Villa Villekulla?
Year 1856 was the year when Åbro brewery was built. There was a lieutenant called Luthander who settled down in Vimmerby, between two military posts. Here, just next to a bridge Stångån (Stång River) he starts Vimmerby’s first Bavarian brewery. In Swedish “å” means river/creek, and “bro” means bridge – Åbro, the brewery by the bridge over the river! However it’s the current owner Henrik Dunge’s great grandfather, Axel Herman Johansson, who built what is now Sweden’s oldest family owned brewery.
Where roads and Kings met
The well-known Kungsleden (”The King’s Route”) passed Skillingarum’s rural inn, just west of Vimmerby. All sorts of people from kings and warlords to priests and monks have rested here, at this significant connection point. These are also the roads on which Nils Dacke and his men travelled upon.
There have been a lot horrors happening in Skillingarum. One of these were when the murderer in the Rumskulla murder was executed here in 1828.