The original seventeenth-century street plan still survives in the city centre. And the finest architectural monument from the time of Christian IV, Holy Trinity Church – the most beautiful religious building from the Renaissance era in all of the Nordic countries – continues to dominate the skyline. The Regional Museum, located in what were once the royal stables, charts the history of Kristianstad and its surroundings under the Danish and Swedish crown.
In the 1800s the old defensive ramparts were replaced by tree-lined boulevards, earning Kristianstad the name of “Little Paris”.
Kristianstad has always been an important centre for trade, and its reputation as a bustling commercial centre was further cemented when it became one of the first municipalities in Sweden to introduce pedestrian precincts in the city centre.
The wetlands around Kristianstad that once offered protection against enemy attacks now provide a sanctuary for a unique diversity of flora and fauna. The seasonally flooded grasslands extend on either side of the River Helge å as it winds its way down to the coast. This natural environment is so special that Kristianstad Vattenrike has been awarded biosphere reserve status by UNESCO. International researchers and local residents out for a Sunday walk are continually making new discoveries in the rich wetlands. The area is home to breeding storks and white-tailed eagles, and rare plants flourish in the meadows that at certain times of year are flooded by the rising waters. At the heart of the biosphere reserve – yet close to the centre of Kristianstad, just a short walk from the Central Station – is the naturum Vattenriket visitors’ centre, the gateway to the region’s natural assets.
Explore Kristianstad at your own pace with the Visitor’s Guide (The locations are marked on the map):
Kristianstad a visitors Guide
We started as Danes, back in 1614. Today we are Swedes. And there have been more changes over the years. We drained the lake to provide building land, and transformed the municipal waste tip into a biosphere reserve, busy narrow streets into a spacious pedestrianised city centre, the regimental HQ into a university, military buildings into a kindergarten, a wool factory into a conference centre, a mill into a business park... the list goes on. We will continue to change, because that’s something we’re proud of. But we’re equally proud of the way things are right now, too. Let us show you some of what Kristianstad has to offer, on a city-centre walking tour.
START – STORA TORG
In Greek mythology Icarus flew too close to the sun, burned his wings and fell to Earth. Since 1966 Palle Pernevi’s steel sculpture Icarus on the main square, Stora Torg, has given local and regional politicians and civil servants in the Town Hall on the west side of the square, food for thought. “Pax vobis” (“Peace be with you”) was Danish King Christian IV’s message to the town’s residents. To the south is the Freemasons’ Hall inaugurated by King Oscar II. Argentinian racing driver, Juan Manuel Fangio, danced the tango here after the 1955 Kristianstad Grand Prix.
To the east is all that exists of what was planned as King Christian IV’s castle. Only the stables were ever built. Today this is the home of the Regional Museum. In the old General Post Office next door is Kristianstad Art Gallery (free admission!). Opposite was the National Bank of Sweden – now a popular pub and restaurant.
On the north side of the square, the motto LEGIBUS ET ARMIS (“Through laws and arms”) can be seen on the Stora Kronohuset, built in Empire style in 1840–41 for the Wendes Artillery Regiment. At the time this was said to be the largest artillery regiment anywhere in the world. Note the wyvern on the roof. In myth, those who dared approach this beast were gifted with magical powers...
Leave the square via the northwestern corner, past the model of Old Kristianstad showing what the fortified town once looked like, and walk to…
…Holy Trinity Church, built by the Dutch Steenwinkel Brothers, consecrated in 1628 and famed as “Scandinavia’s most beautiful Renaissance temple”. Legend says Christian IV rested here under a tree during a hunting trip, fell asleep and dreamed of a new town. When he awoke, he proclaimed he would build his own town – Christian’s Town – and a church on the spot where he took his nap!
Eva Waldemarsson in “The King’s City”: “Hans Fiskare’s mouth is wide open. He hardly dare breathe, but waits for the king’s word. ‘Here,’ the king says, making a broad, sweeping gesture with his arm. ‘Here is where the church will stand.’ Hans Fiskare falls to his knees in tears.”
Walking along Västra Storgatan you pass a number of very old buildings on your right. The first was once an inn (the inscription: “Måttlig fägnad…” means “Ale and good cheer await you here”). The second is one of Kristianstad’s oldest houses. In the third, a coup d’état was plotted in 1772 to strengthen King Gustaf III’s power at the expense of the politicians. The south of Sweden was secured for the Crown when Johan Christopher Toll proclaimed a state of emergency and seized power in Kristianstad. Cannons were rolled out on the cobblestones, but they were never loaded.
Lars Rosander and Lennart Frick in “The Watchful Eye”: “The citizens awoke to find themselves under martial law. Post was inspected and censored. No one was allowed to enter Kristianstad without a pass, signed by Toll himself.”
We have now reached the North Gate, Norreport. The cobblestones beyond the gate are part of what used to be a military barracks, designed by the architect Carl Hårleman. A memorial has been raised here in recognition of the Wende Regiment’s role in the Napoleonic Wars. In front of you stands the 53-metre high Water Tower; unremarkable in itself, perhaps, but for a number of years it was home to a breeding pair of peregrine falcon. Only a few blocks away, kestrels have been regular residents for many years.
Patrik Olofsson in “The Hooked Beaks”: “With the cries of the fledglings echoing over the town, the female returns, a starling in her talons. A male fledgling takes to the air to meet this welcome meal, but is overeager, mistimes his mother’s aerial exchange and her prey falls through the air, landing with a thud on the roof of a parked car below.”
Turn left into Norra Kaserngatan and continue towards Västra Boulevarden before again turning left. This is one of the broad boulevards that have given Kristianstad the epithet Little Paris. If you continue a kilometre or so further north, you arrive in Näsby, where you will find Kristianstad University and another vestige of Kristianstad’s proud military past: the infantry regiment I6 (later P6) was stationed here before being disbanded. If you turn left instead, along Norra Kaserngatan, and then left again, you’ll find yourself back on Västra Boulevarden.
The Central Station was built in 1865. Kristianstad is on a branch line, but has direct connections to Karlskrona, Helsingborg, Ystad, Malmö, Copenhagen Airport and central Copenhagen. The station played one of the main roles in Therese Ahlbeck’s short film “The Platform”.
Bent William Rasmussen in “Calm Flight”: “I walked through the station’s waiting room, which still resembles the dining hall of some palatial German hunting lodge…”
On the opposite side of the street is the main entrance of the church. Step into the tranquil interior and imagine the scene when the altar was raised in 1625 – ferried here on a barge all the way from Amsterdam!
Leaving the church, continue south and turn right along Nya Boulevarden (once a canal!) but first...
…cast a glance at the hotel on the opposite corner. This Old Savings Bank in German Renaissance style has decorations fit for a palace. Why don’t we build like this today?
Across the railway line, on the right, is Barbacka, a cultural centre for children and young people, with a café, games rooms, rehearsal studios and exhibitions. Beyond, towers the old mill, now a business park and restaurant. Continue down to the River Helge å. On the right is the Tivolibadet swimming pool: ahead a pedestrian bridge leads to the naturum Vattenriket visitor centre. This “nest in the reeds”, the nerve centre of Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve, is Kristianstad’s biggest tourist attraction. In addition to exhibitions, it hosts lectures and seminars about nature and the environment, and is the starting point for the Linnérundan Trail through the wetlands to the west.
During the opening ceremony in November 2010 a whitetailed eagle circled auspiciously overhead, and more recently otters have returned to the river – nature in the very heart of Kristianstad.
Turn left before the bridge into Tivoli Park. This was once marshy pasture where the military garrison’s commander kept cows to earn a little extra income. Today it is a popular green oasis where summer concerts attract up to 8,000 people, many picnicking on the lush grass.
Walter Nilsson in “The Gardener’s Apprentice”: “Eva and I visited Tivoli Park so often we recognised every duck and swan we met. We sat in the café until the waitress, standing by the kitchen door, finally made us feel unwelcome. Wherever we stopped, our kisses and embraces were disturbed by passersby.”
Kristianstad Theatre, the jewel of Tivoli Park, was designed by a local talent, Axel Anderberg, an architect whose legacy includes the Royal Opera House in Stockholm. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was on the bill on the opening night in 1906. For a shorter walk, you can take a shortcut from here back to the centre. Across the railway line and along Tivoligatan, you are just two blocks from the square at Lilla Torg. Alternatively, continue south through the park beside the river, past the bridges and the loading site that was once the heart of Kristianstad harbour.
Cross the canal that formed part of the old moat around King Christian’s for-tress. Just a block away is the old wool factory, Yllan, the main workplace for local women in the first half of the 1900s.
Birgitta Trotzig in “The Mud King’s Daughter”: “Inside the factory, in the broad, low halls, row on row of machines rattled and shook on the oilstained floor, and the air was thick with steam and dust, a haze of swirling fibres. The noise was deafening: lips moved, but words had to be bellowed to be heard.”
Cross the railway tracks to the old station at Kristianstad Södra, now a railway museum. Here, too, is Kristianstad Arena built in 2010 to host the World Handball Championship. The local team, IFK Kristianstad, is one of Sweden’s best, feared by opponents for its fiercely partisan supporters.
Turn back to follow Västra Storgatan towards the centre of town. At the crossing with Blekingevägen the impressive brick building on the left is the CJF Ljunggren Factory. Here locomotives and carriages were built in the golden age of steam 100 years ago. Here too, are the roots of the Swedish workingclass movement.
Bunny Ragnerstam in “Day of Wrath”: “One by one, the smiths stopped their hammering, the apprentices forgot to pump the bellows and everyone stared wideeyed at so rare and welldressed a visitor. Stopping in the middle of the floor, he peered over his spectacles at all the identical sooty faces. It was Hammarstrand the treasurer – a frightful snob.”
Across the street is Söderportskolan, the old grammar school. The author, Fritiof Nilsson Piraten, studied here after being expelled from Lund and having run away from school in Ystad. Four blocks straight ahead are the lively square and colourful market stands of Lilla Torg. On three sides are traditional, low buildings, but to the east towers Framtidens Hus, a reminder of the architecture of the 1960s, when the motto was “Forget tradition!” Now even the traditional premises in this busy hub of commerce have been modernised to meet the demands of today’s consumers.
Cut across the square past the Bell tower towards Östra Storgatan. The Ukrainian general, Filip Orlik, fled here and lived in the corner house after ordering his cossacks to fight for Sweden’s King Karl XII at a illfated Battle. This is the only house in Kristianstad to be blessed by a Catholic priest, as part of the ceremonies when a memorial statue was unveiled in 2011.
Just 100 metres along Östra Storgatan is the Film Museum, the first home of the Swedish film industry. The studio where the first feature films were made in 1909 can still be seen. Films are still shown here even today.
After the short walk back to Lilla Torg, turn left at the corner to see the eastern retail centre with its landmark Galleria Boulevard shopping mall. At the southern end is the bustling Hästtorget bus station, now served by biogasfuelled buses. Further east, across the canal, is Kristianstad’s Cultural Quarter with the City Library and Concert Hall. This is the home of Musik i Syd, southern Sweden’s own regional music institution. If you turn around, on the other side of the canal you can see Scandinavia’s first street plaza for skateboarders and bicycle acrobats.
North along Kanalgatan, past the concert hall, the large red building on your right is Kristianstad Prison, one of Sweden’s oldest citycentre prisons and famous as the site where the Yngsjö murderess, Anna Månsdotter, was beheaded in 1890. The final inmate left in 2013.
Lasse Strömstedt in “In Prison”: “As prisons go, Kristianstad was popular. The guards were relatively kind, the food was very good and there was plenty to keep you occupied... I escaped after just three weeks.”
Turn left across the canal. The fishermen of Åhus and Yngsjö used to land their catches here, and during the bitterly cold winters of the 1950s dances were arranged on the ice! Now turn right into Östra Boulevarden: a few hundred metres straight ahead is Bastion Konungen, the King’s Bastion, a partial reconstruction of the old fortress town of Kristianstad.
Walk west along Norra Kaserngatan for two blocks into Östra Storgatan, and soon you are back at the old main square, Stora Torg.
Thank you for your attention!