Naval Port of Karlskrona
Naval Port Of Karlskrona
Cultural Sweden Europe And North America Blekinge County

The complex of the naval port of Karlskrona was the model for several similar projects in Europe. It is a unique relic of Sweden's time as a major power, and of the North European Baroque movement's attempt to create unity between the layout of the city, the manufacturing areas, and the surrounding countryside. The whole is characterized by the consistent long-term aim of cultivating efficiency and aesthetic, still clearly discernible in the infrastructure and open spaces

Karlskrona was founded in 1680 when Sweden was a major power whose territory included modern Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Skåne, Blekinge and Gotland and parts of north Germany. Karl XI issued a charter for the foundation of a new town on the islands of Wämöand Trossö, to be known as Karlskrona and to serve both as a port and as a naval base. Danish tradesmen's and merchants' area were forced into the new town, and the region was progressively assimilated into Sweden.

The naval installations that developed at Karlskrona, beginning with a shipyard and storage facilities, were initially supervised by Erik Dahlbergh, the Quartermaster-General, who was responsible for the defences of the Swedish kingdom. Naval architects and craftsmen were sent from Stockholm, and houses were built to receive them. The shipyard began with two building berths, two quays, two forges, and five warehouses;the first keel was laid down in December 1680 and the first ship launched the following year.

Karlskrona became a seat of government in 1683, the year in which Dahlbergh drew up the definitive plans for the town and its fortifications. By the time Gustav III took the throne by means of a coup d'état in 1772 it had become the third largest town in Sweden. Despite the political decline of the country (Gustav's assassination and the loss of Finland in 1809) Karlskrona continued as the main base for the Swedish Navy. The town has been damaged by fire, most severely in 1790. As a result, rebuilding of the destroyed buildings was carried out using stone and the original street layout was largely preserved.

The Second World War saw the modernization of some of the older fortifications and the installation of new facilities for defence against aerial attack. Since that time there has been a progressive diminution of activity in the naval area, although it still plays an active role in the Swedish defence system.

The plan of Karlskrona integrates strategic imperatives with the classical ideal. The Baroque layout with wide main streets radiating out from a central square lined with majestic public buildings is clearly discernible in the present-day town. It was planned by Erik Dahlbergh and Karl Magnus Stuart on the orders of the Lord High Admiral, Hans Wachtmeister.

The centre of the town is Stortorget (Great Square), at the highest point of the island of Trossö. Here are located the two main churches of the town, Heliga Trefalighets Kyrka (Holy Trinity Church) and Fredrikskyrkan, both dating from the first half of the 18th century, Rådhuset (the City Hall), from the same period, and later public buildings such as the Concert Hall, the City Library, and the Post Office.

The naval harbour is located to the south of the town, from which it was originally separated by an impressive enclosure wall, only small sections of which survive. To the south of the Parade Ground is Gamle Varvet (the Old Shipyard). This is made up of a number of fine buildings dating mainly from the late 18th century, commissioned by Frederic Henric af Chapman, Shipyard Admiral of Karlskrona from 1780 until his death in 1808 and many of them designed by this gifted master shipbuilder and architect. On the other side of Amiralitetsslätten is Artillerigärden (Artillery Yard), an area of reclaimed land housing barracks, ordnance storehouses, workshops, and a hospital. The point of land on which they were built is protected by the Aurora Bastion, dating from 1704.