Visby

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Visby is a locality and the seat of Gotland Municipality in Gotland County, Sweden with 22,236 inhabitants in 2005.[1] It is the only one with historical city status on the island of Gotland; it is arguably the best-preserved medieval city in Scandinavia and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the most notable historical remains are the 3.4 km long stone wall called Ringmuren ("the Ring Wall"), that encircles the city and the old church ruins.

The name "Visby" comes from the Old Norse Vis, (genitive singular of Vi) meaning sacrificial place, and by, meaning "city".[2]

Visby is a popular vacation destination for Scandinavians during the summer and receives hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

Contents

History

The earliest history of Visby is uncertain, but it is known to have been a centre of merchandise around 900 AD. It was inhabited as early as the stone age, probably because of the access to fresh water and a natural harbour.

In the 12th century, Visby Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Mary, was constructed. It was reshaped in the 13th century to its current appearance, and was officially opened in 1225 by the bishop of the Swedish city of Linköping. Several other churches were also constructed in the ensuing centuries. The city flourished, thanks to the German Hanseatic League.

The work on the ring wall was likely begun in the 12th century. Around 1300 it was rebuilt to reach its current height, acquiring the characteristic towers, although some towers were not constructed until the 15th century. The ringwall is still largely intact.

In 1361, Gotland was conquered by Valdemar IV of Denmark and Visby became a Danish city. Important as it was, some setbacks occurred. In 1391, 1394 and 1398 it was taken and plundered by the Victual Brothers, pirates who sailed the Baltic Sea. In 1411, King Eric of Pomerania had the castle of Visborg constructed, and settled himself there for twelve years, during which the city virtually became a pirates nest, and the commerce halted. As of 1470, the Hanseatic League rescinded Visby's status as a Hanseatic town.

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