Karlsborg is a town at Lake Vättern which has for a long time been heavily militarized. It was in fact here that Sweden’s capital would be moved in case Stockholm was attacked. Take a trip to Karlsborg Fortress!
Karlsborg is located on the western side of the Vättern and is divided by Göta Canal. The number of inhabitants counts to 3624. Karlsborg has grown completely from a marketplace and continued to grow around Karlsborg fortress.
The town is characterized by proximity to the fortress. Karlsborg Fortress is a huge building that took 90 years to complete (in 1819-1909). It may sound like a long long time, but then you should keep in mind that they actually built a strongly fortified city from scratch with all the necessary social services.
Why a reserve capital in Karlsborg?
Sweden lost Finland in 1809, which resulted in a huge buffer zone disappearing. Stockholm was suddenly very vulnerable, in an attack from Russia. The idea was, therefore, that the royal house, government, parliament, and gold reserve would be moved from Stockholm in the event of war.
Karlsborg is strategically located in central Sweden with Vättern as a protection on one side. In addition, a part of the fortress is built on a cape that is protected by two-thirds of the lake. It was thought that the building would take about 10 years. Instead, construction began in several locations around Karlsborg. The celebrity and Göta canal entrepreneur, Baltzar von Platen, were most involved in the planning and design of the new defense works.
Millions of tons of sand were required to build and at the end of the 1820s, 2000 people worked to construct gravel walls against the waterfront side of the fortress. The workers consisted of a blissful mix. Everything from soldiers, detainees, to ordinary workers from rural areas.
In 1832 King Karl XIV Johan inspected the building. They then laid the foundations of the main gate and the official name was decided to Karlsborg fortress.
The end shelter – The fortress most powerful part
Any enemies would probably emerge from the land side and if they would pass all other fortifications, the ultimate endurance was in the end. It consisted of two floors with 2-3 meters of thick walls and 263 cannons aimed at the likely front. 6000-8000 man should mane the heels. At that time in the 1860s, this was one of Europe’s longest buildings.
All work unnecessarily?
In 90 years, as the construction time was, weapons development will take many steps. Actually, the fortress was completed in 1870 but was considered complete in 1909 after various modernizations and simpler solutions. The walls, which were built of sandstone, could now easily be penetrated by artillery poets.
To strengthen the defense, a new fortification was built in a nearby mountain. Sweden was among the first in Europe to blow a fortification into mountains, instead of building walls. Despite all the efforts, Karlsborg Fortress was used in the 20th century as a training place.
The life in Karlsborg Fortress
The goal of the fortress was to create a fully functioning autonomous society in the event of war, as well as move all important social functions within the walls.
At the furthest end of the archipelago is the royal family villa, built in 1823. The royal family should live here if they needed evacuation.
There was also a central warehouse for the entire army. Among other things, about 100,000 rifles were stored here.
Of course, there were hospitals, workshops, harbor, bank, riding houses, stables, officers housing, garrison church, warehouses, factory manufacturing and much more.
Karlsborg Fortress today?
Today the fortress is a major tourist destination. Some of the premises have civilian tenants. Some units are still in the area, as well as special joint Special Operation Group (SOG).
There are restaurants and cafés as well as activities for visitors of all ages.