A walk through the centuries

With its 300 half-timbered buildings, no other town in Scandinavia and few in Europe can boast such a complete picture of bygone times. And it is a district that is very much alive. Many of the old buildings house shops, eateries and other fascinating places for people who like to enjoy life.


We are quickly reminded of the four routes into the old town, the three gates, Västerport, Norreport and Österport (west, north, east), and the harbour to the south. The old packet-boat that sailed from here to Stralsund was, for many years, the only regular contact with foreign shores.

Today there are daily departures of train, vehicle and passenger ferries from Ystad to the Danish island of Bornholm and Poland.

Let's take an historic walk through town, we can begin at the Tourist Office on S:t Knuts torg.



Ernst-Hugo Järegårds minnestaty At the nearby railway station we can see a statue raised in memory of the great Swedish actor Ernst-Hugo Järegård. Ystads Konstmuseum  (art muse-um), which was opened in 1936, is also on S:t Knuts torg; the museum is known for its fine collection of 20th century Swedish and Danish art.

The museum also houses a photo gallery with a unique collection of photographs including a daguerreotype from 1845.
Ystads Turistbyrå


Hotell Continental

Adjacent to the museum gardens is Charlotte Berlin's museum a traditional upper middle-class home from the middle of the 19th century; on her death, Charlotte Berlin, a  judges daughter, left her home, chattels and a large sum of money to Ystad. Her home is now a museum and the money is cared for by a foundation that acquires clocks for the museum's extensive clock collection.


If we walk to Stickgatan past the S:t Nicolaus Katolska församlingen (Catholic church) we arrive at Hamngatan; here we can find the Hotel Continental , probably Sweden's oldest hotel building. It was built in 1814 on the remains of the 18th century customhouse.

Adjacent to the hotel is Gosselmanska huset which dates from 1765 and was once a grammar school (1841-1871).


Unique theatre

From here it is only a hundred metres to Ystads Teater ; Built at the end of the 19th century it is Sweden's best preserved theatre. The canons behind the theatre were placed here in 1712 to defend the harbour, hence the name of the street, Skansgatan (fortlet).

Two alleys lead off this street, both will take you to Långgatan where, at the west end, you'll find Gamla Maltfabriken (the old maltings). The building, which dates from, 1749, is built around a courtyard and now houses a fresh beer brewery and restaurant. Runnerströms torg (a small square) just outside the door is named after the great benefactor Axel Runnerström.


A small hill from Långgatan takes you to Mattorget where Lilla and Stora Västergatan meet. Here you'll find a sense of the old trading city, until the end of the 16th century it was at the western limits of the town and, as the name implies, a food market.


The adjacent Kemnerska gården dates from the beginning of the 16th century. When Charles XII arrived in Sweden returning from Pommern in December 1715 he entered here. He rode through Västerport (west gate) and along Lilla Västergatan to the town centre. A sign on Kemnerska gården claims that the king stayed here, although recent research indicates otherwise.

If you really want to know where he stayed you have to wait a little.

Ystads Teater

Restaurang Bryggeriet & Maltfabriken


St:a Maria Kyrka

Latinskolans östra gavel

The watchman - a living legend

The town's oldest church, S:ta Maria kyrka which dates from the 13th century, and Latinskolan, with its stepped gable, are both adjacent to Mattorget. The school dates from the 16th century and is said to be the oldest school house in Scandinavia and every night from the tower of the church a watchman sounds his copper horn over Ystad to declare that all's well, a tradition that dates from the 17th century. There are many who doubt the authenticity of the watchman - but he really does blow his horn every 15 minutes from 21:15 to 01:00 every night - one tone for each of the four cardinal points.


Lilla Västergatan runs from Mattorget to Norra Promenaden where sing-a-long concerts are arranged every summer. It is here that you'll find the old churchyard, the final resting place of many of the town's leading personalities, artists, politicians and merchants. Lilla Norregatan runs parallel to Stora Norregatan which also starts at Mattorget. Here you can see one of the town's most beautifully decorated half-timbered houses, Änglahuset; it dates from the beginning of the 16th century. Almost opposite is Brahehuset, it was built by Axel Pedersen Brahe in the 15th century. He died in 1487 and is buried in Klosterkyrkan just a stone's throw from his creation.


The historic building that now houses the staff of the local newspaper, Ystads Allehanda is right next door. August Strindberg lived here for a few months at the end of the 19th century.

We are now almost at the old north gate Norreport where you can still see the remains of the city wall as it was in the 17th century. It is here that Sweden's first department store, Hagermanska köpmanspalatset, was built in 1830; it now belongs to Siriuslogen.


The largest attraction

Together, Klostret (the monastery) and S:t Petri kyrka (church) are the largest historic attraction in Ystad. This is the oldest best preserved monastery in Sweden, it houses five centres for permanent and temporary exhibitions as well as a café and souvenir shop. The gardens, Klosterträdgårdarna , include a rose garden, cabbage patch, herb garden - with a fine collection of medicinal and other herbs, a peony garden and a pond that attracts sea birds. Here you can also see a mid 19th century, plastered town house. A plaque on the wall tells us that the compo-ser, organist and conductor August Körling lived here from 1866 until his death in 1919. It was also the composer Felix Körling's childhood home.


We can now walk along Bäckahästgränd past Frivillige Bergnings-Corps museum and Tvättorget to Stortorget where Gamla Rådhuset (the old town hall) is. It was refurbished in 1840, although the oldest part, the cellar, dates from the 15th century. The cellars now house a restaurant.


In the north corner of Stortorget is Apoteksgården which dates from the 17th century. Today the buil-ding houses a pottery and concerts are arranged here in the old cobbled yard in the summer months. Adjacent to Apoteksgården is a majestic private dwelling from 1794. Sweden's first private bank was established here in 1831, Skånska Privatbanken; it is now part of SEB.

Klostret i Ystad

Kålgården vid Klostret


Pedestrian street

Leading off Tvättorget, where we can see Jens Jacobsens handelshus from 1640, is Teppgränd, a partly cobbled alley, that leads to Stora Östergatan, this is a pedestrian street that links Stortorget with Österport (east gate). A walk along the pedestrian street will take us past Birgittahuset with its stepped gables. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was part of a mayor's residence. It was here that Charles XII stayed when he visited Ystad. Arts and crafts are to be seen in Henrik Rogges gård not far away. It dates from the 17th century.


Aspelinska gården, it dates from 1780, is to be found in Gåsegränd. Both Gåsegränd and Pilgränd meet on Stora Östergatan and it here that you will find Pilgrändshuset , Scandinavia's oldest half-timbered house, it dates from 1480. If we continue east along the pedestrian street we will get to Karstens hus, it was named after Christian Karsten, Gustaf III's court singer. He was born here in 1756.


Where Besökaregränd crosses the pedestrian street you will see Per Helsas gård; it is named after the last private owner, Per Hansson, who ran a water company. This is Scandinavia's only preserved block of half-timbered houses.

Birgittahuset på gågatan

Per Helsa


Private house becomes the town hall

Our stroll has taken us to Österportstorg and Nya Rådhuset, the latter was built in 1814 on a beach site as a private home for the head of the Board of Trade, C M Lundgren. The building has also served as a school; the famous Swedish author Fritiof Nilsson Piraten studied here. It is now used as offices for the local municipal council.


In 1936, Ystad hosted one of Sweden's most impor-tant "recreation" exhibitions. The arched building to the south of the town hall dates from the exhibition. It was built as a restaurant but is now used as a sports centre and is known as " Bollen". Many first division handball matches have been played here.

Just round the corner is Nattmans torg, it reminds us of the days when the services of an executioner were sometimes needed, a practice that ended at the end of the 19th century. The administration of justice is now handled in the Tingshuset (court house). The building, which is close to the square, was built in 1902 and designed by Peter Boisen, who also designed Ystads Teater (theatre).


We have now walked a full circle and can once again see S:t Knuts torg and the Tourist Office Turistbyrån. Our walk through history has left us in the 21st century, where we began.




From garrison to film centre

For over 200 years Ystad was a garrison town but in December 1997 the last regiment marched out of town. All that is left are the old garrison buildings - many are protected.

These are now being adopted for a variety of purposes including a new film studio and film museum: Ystad Studios and Cineteket.
Publicerad 2011-11-09, Uppdaterad 2018-08-15