The region separating Lake Vänern from Lake Vättern offers rich pickings for visitors. This is the province of Västergötland and the cradle of Sweden.
In 1746, the indefatigable Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus said, “Truly no one could ever imagine such splendor as in Västergötland who had not seen it for himself.”
Heading south along the eastern shore of Vänern, you come to Mariestad, dominated by the spire of the 17th-century Renaissance-style cathedral, one of the few churches of this period remaining in Sweden.
Most Swedes learn in school that the king who first united Svea and Göta tribes, Olof Skötkonung (994-1022), was baptized in 1008 at Husaby Källa (Husaby Spring). True or not, Husaby is considered to be the cradle of the Swedish state.
Next to the spring, the 12th-century Husaby Church is an imposing three-spired edifice with beautiful ceiling-paintings inside.
Lidköping, the porcelain town
Nestled into Kinneviken (Kinne Bay) 51km (32 miles) south of Mariestad, is Lidköping, a town founded in 1446 and once renowned for its porcelain. Its most famous company Rörstrand, the maker of the Nobel china, no longer has a factory in Lidköping (its fine china is now manufactured in Hungary and Sri Lanka), but a new Rörstrand museum opened here in 2008, and there is a large factory shop. Lidköping has several fine cafés, including the renowned Garströms Konditori, established in 1859, on the main square.
North of Lidköping on the Källandsö peninsula stands the restored Baroque-style 17th-century Läcko Slot, one of the most impressive castles in Sweden. In summer it holds cultural exhibitions and is a venue for outdoor concerts.
Trollhättan, at the southern tip of Lake Vänern, was the hometown of Saab Automobile and has a rich industrial heritage: it’s also known as “Trollywood” thanks to its film production! The town has long been famous for the magnificent 32-meter (105ft) falls of the Göta River. Today, the river is diverted to generate electricity and the falls are silent. But during the annual Falls Festival in July it is released to follow the old course, providing an impressive spectacle.
Heartland of Sweden’s textile industry
The southern part of Västergötland is still the heartland of Sweden’s textile industry, with the focal point at Borås, where there is a Textilmuseet (Textile Museum).
The Cradle of Sweden, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): From Lidköping. Photo © Novasol