Skip to content

The Island of Gotland

By: Camey VanSant

By Frans

In the middle of the Baltic Sea lies the island of Gotland.

Some friends and I took the ferry from mainland Sweden and arrived at 6:30 in the morning in Visby. Even with just about three hours of sleep, we were taken by the town’s charm. Visby, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is notable for its well-preserved inner city. A majority of its buildings trace back to the Middle Ages. As a seaside town with a population of roughly 25,000, Visby is the largest town on the island, with the rest of Gotland mainly consisting of a rural population.

Photo of Visby from the sky, courtesy of my friend Carl.

We stayed in Visby, just within the town wall that encircles the town center, a structure that dates back to the 12th century. From here, we explored various parts of the expansive 3,184 km² island.

Part of the Visby City Wall, constructed in the 13th and 14th centuries.

During one of our excursions, we visited an old limestone quarry in the north of Gotland. This quarry, now filled with water, serves as a bathing spot. Limestone has and is an important industry for Gotland, with its history dating back to the Middle Ages. However, the limestone mining industry on the island now faces uncertainty due to environmental concerns, leading to significant debate in recent years.

Photo from the old limestone quarry, viewed from above, again courtesy of my friend Carl.
Image from a current limestone quarry, not too far from the old one.

Another trip took us to the southernmost part of Gotland, home to the unique “rauks.” These distinct landforms, made primarily of limestone, have been shaped over thousands of years by wave erosion.

Countryside in the south of Gotland.


Hoburg, featuring one of the more renowned rauks.

During my stay, I also had the opportunity to meet and talk to many interesting people and truly had a great time. On the ferry ride away from the island, even though the thought is banal, it was hard not to reflect on the combination of effort and serendipity that contributed to the creation of things that have endured for such a long time.

Categories: Frans