Sweden is a ‘coastal country’ meaning that it’s largest urban centres (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo or Uppsala) are located along the east and west coast of the country, it is also a long country, in the geographical sense, stretching more than 1500km end to end.
Some place must link all these disparate urban agglomerations together, it has to be somewhere inland and right smack in the centre. That place, is Örebro.
The name Örebro comes from the words Öre and bro, gravel bank and bridge respectively – meaning the English translation of the city is gravel bridge. The etymology of the city name describes exactly why Örebro was founded – a place to facilitate movement and trade. Örebro was a great location because it was located at the intersection of two vital water bodies, the Lake Hjälmaren and the River Svartån.
As a consequence of its location, Örebro can rightfully call itself The Heart of Sweden. The earliest mention of Örebro comes in the 13th century when a castle was constructed at the centre of town under the leadership of Birger Jarl.
Because of its location as a transit point between the two coasts, Örebro never grew into a huge town and remained as a relatively small transit hub for a long time. Despite that, it has been witness to some very important events in the history of Sweden. The change of Sweden from a catholic to protestant nation was only theologically completed when the Örebro Synod met in the city in 1529; the change of Sweden’s national family to the Bernadottes was completed in Örebro when the national parliament met to elect Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte as the crown prince of Sweden.
The plains of the region (Närke) were fertile grounds for oxen, enabling the growth of a shoe manufacturing industry in the city and becoming the national shoe-manufacturing industry.
Today’s Örebro has since ceased to be a major manufacturing hub replaced instead by being the heart of many government services and employing many civil servants in the city, with a high quality of life, surrounded as they are by the most beautiful park in Sweden.
So what happens in a small Swedish city?
Join me as we explore Örebro over the next few days!