Bohus Fästning, Sweden – Protecting the Old Swedish-Norwegian border

Back in February 2016 I visit Sweden for a couple of weeks (Sweden in winter?!? Don’t ask) and I had the opportunity to visit Bohus Fästning (Bohus Fortress), a 14th century fortress on the former Norwegian-Swedish border just north of the city of Gothenburg.


The fortress was built around the year 1308. It was in use for almost the entirety of the next five centuries, although its varying levels of important varied depending on who controlled it and where the Swedish-Norwegian broder was at the time. In 1308 the King of Norway, Haakon V Magnuson, ordered its construction as a defence against the Swedish. From 1308 to 1658 it remained in Norwegian hands, surviving 14 sieges; it was never taken by the enemy. The closest the Swedish came was in 1566, when they were able to storm and take the northeast tower. The Norwegian commander sent in a volunteer to blow up the munitions stored below the tower, killing the invading Swedes.

Because of the damage caused by this explosion, the Norwegians repaired and reinforced the fortress, upgrading to a bastion fortress between 1593 and 1604 and adding another outer wall. Over the next hundred years, the fortress received improvements due to the Swedish threat.

This culminated in 1658 when the region (along with other Danish and Norwegian provinces) were given to Sweden in the Treaty of Roskilde. As the border shifted to the border between Norway and Sweden we know today (and Bohus Fästning is not on it), the importance of the fortress declined. Garrisons were active in nearby Gothenburg and the new Fredriksten and Carlsten Fortresses on the new borde. Bohus Fortress became a prison and remained as such until 1783.

In 1783 it was decided that Bohus Fästning should be demolished. Demolition took place for two months before the money ran out and workers stopped the demolition. What you can see today is what remains of the fortress from that time.

Visiting Bohus Fästning

Is it worth visiting Bohus Fästning? My answer would be it depends on what you are looking for and what time of year you are in the area. The fortress sits on an island overlooking the “Nordre älv” (translation: North River) valley and there are some very nice views.

If you are looking to visit the museum and learn more about the history of the fortress and what it has been through, you have to go in summer as that is the only time it is open. You are able to walk around the fortress, so you can see the views at any time of the year.

Here are some more photos:

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