The Garden of Gothenburg

The growth of the trading city in Gothenburg made the city rich and attracted a new population of people to it. Trade and money attract the middle class like moths to light and bees to honey (ah writing, the last home of cliches), however growing cities especially in the age of industrialisation were sad places, they were dull, drab and dreary.


If a city was made up of the powerless (labourers of the day), the powers that be would not bother too much with beautifying the place. However the ascent of the Swedish East India Company created a sizable middle class in the city, people who would have political influence. Even after the dissolution of the company, trade continued with many more firms being set up and the middle class continued to remain in the city.

The middle classes needed beauty, they did not want to be in a city with the stink of the poor, and so (like the rich in Stockholm) they moved out of the city and built a new residential district outside the city walls. But the district was not going to be directly outside the wall and on the opposite side of the city, there was going to be beauty. And so,  over the course of the mid-1800s a series of parks were established just outside the city walls. There was Kungsparken in 1839 and then the Trädgårdsföreningen in 1849 (the Garden Society of Gothenburg). Botanic Gardens were a must have in every city worth its salt in the 19th century. They were the most in fashion of aesthetic additions to a city.

Next to these places came a beautiful theatre called Stora Teatern (Great Theatre) in 1880, where Swedish and international acts performed when in town. And since its Gothenburg, why not support a local turned international performer, Miriam Byrant.

Now, these places came from a time when humans controlled nature, or at least thought they did. Nature was not beautiful when is was manicured and tended to, and that was what the Botanic Gardens was about. The beautiful colours of autumn. I went there in the morning after a light breakfast, there were few people there, but what people were there were extremely friendly. I said more hej-hejs to strangers than I did in a month. Most people were there to exercise and get their morning jog, and why not, the garden is exquisite.

It was not the first (that was in Uppsala), but certainly one of the best preserved as it was in the 19th century. Among the attractions of the Garden are the Palm house dating back to 1873 containing plants from the Mediterranean.

Another part of Tradgardsforeningen is the Rose Garden with more than 1200 species of roses.

Then there were art displays around, such as this artistic installation of rocks that looks like runestones.

Perhaps the only drawback would be the smallness of the Garden, it can be covered within 30 minutes. Although there is a restaurant and a cafe and its a great place to be surrounded by plants and relax over a fika.

Now I may not have been fair when I described that garden as the preserve of the rich in the 1800s. It was certainly built mainly for them, but according to what I can see there was no evidence that the garden was out of limits to the poor. Having said that, it’s hard to imagine that the working class could afford to enjoy a garden as much as the middle class back then. A fact that may not be too different even today…



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