Port of Gavle
Review and History

The Port of Gavle lies on an inlet of the Gulf of Bothnia in east central Sweden 174 kilometers north-northwest of Stockholm. Port of Gavle is the capital of Gavleborg County and the main export center for the city of Norrland and the Bergslagen region. It is just northwest of Jarvsta, where there is a Viking burial ground, and the seaport resort of Furuvik. In 2005, over 92 thousand people called the Port of Gavle home.

In the 15th Century, the Port of Gavle started exporting copper and iron from the Bergslagen region, and it was an important shipping center and merchant town during the 16th Century. While few of the shipping companies or shipyards remain today, the Port of Gavle is still an important port, with over a thousand ships calling at port each year.

Port History

For many ages, the Port of Gavle was little more than a village with turf and shingled wooden buildings and boat-houses lining the banks of the inlet where exports were sent off to foreign lands. The Port of Gavle was given permission to import and export goods for the first time in 1491. In the 1700s, the town was built around the town hall, a church, the regional palace. In 1783, about 40 ships called at the Port of Gavle.

Over the past three centuries, the Port of Gavle has been threatened by fire many times. After a devastating fire in 1776, the town rebuilt with rectangular city blocks and straight streets, and more stone and brick houses were built. The biggest fire was in 1869 when about 8 thousand of the city’s 10 thousand residents lost their homes in the north area of town, and as many as 350 farms were ruined. The buildings in the south of the Port of Gavle were saved. Today, an area of the old town, Gamla Gefle, has been preserved, and the city has many esplanades and green areas with wide avenues to stop the spread of future fires.

In 1859, around a hundred vessels called at the Port of Gavle. The Fredriksskans Harbor was inaugurated in 1905.

In the middle of the 20th Century, the Port of Gavle undertook a major redevelopment project. The city was merged with nearby municipalities in the early 1970s. In 1976, the Port of Gavle’s Granudden Forest Products Terminal was inaugurated. In 2006, the Port of Gavle Container Terminal and the Flight Fuel Terminal opened, and a new primary road to the port became operational. In 2007, the Port of Gavle’s new harbor office opened for business, and in 2008, the Combi-Terminal was completed.

In 1966, the legend of the Gavle Goat was born in the Port of Gavle. Local citizen Stig Gavlen had the idea of creating a huge traditional Christmas goat out of straw. He put the 13-meter-tall goat on Castle Square, and it was set to fire at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The tradition continues, but for a few wrinkles. It is illegal to burn the goat, but that hasn’t stopped the tradition. In 2006, the goat was covered with a flame-resistant coating, and it stood in the town center for the entire winter. The Port of Gavle Goat is the stuff of myth. It has been featured in movies, on Sweden’s “Most Wanted” television show seeking the infamous arsonists, and on the front page of USA Today.

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