Responsible for the content: Lena Johansson, Karlskrona kommun. Photo: Lena Johansson unless otherwise stated 


The Naval City of Karlskrona was planned as a magnificent vision. The most famous and skilful architects, fortification engineers, shipwrights et c were engaged to implement king Charles XI´s vision of Sweden´s new naval yard. 

The layout of Karlskrona and its fortifications are the result of the joint efforts of Erik Dahlberg, Nicodemus Tessin the elder and Carl Magnus Stuart. Although Stuart’s proposal for the new town was confirmed in 1683 it was superseded 11 years later by a new plan. According to the 1683 plan, the naval harbour was to be in the south part of the town, a district for the burghers in the north, and the Navy’s supply and support installations in the east. The Dutch influence in the planning of the western district with its harbour, canals, commercial buildings and modest dwellings is unmistakable. The residential dwellings for senior officers were on Alamedan, the eastern section of Amiralitetsgatan.
The main thoroughfare, running from north to south, was to be Drottninggatan and it was on this street near the present day Kapell Park that the town’s first parish church, the Hedvig Eleonora, was built. The principal axis of the town is from north to south and follows the two Kungsgatan streets over the Great Square and the Admiralty Square to the Main Guardhouse at the entry to the Naval base.

It is the wide streets and the public buildings on the monumental Great Square that give a particular quality to Karlskrona. In this classic example of a grid net layout, a Great Square surrounded by buildings representing religion and the law, has been situated at the
highest point on the island of Trossö and is the centre of the town. The two churches on the Square have been built in accordance with two main principles of renaissance architecture, that of the rotunda and the basilica.
The Admiralty Square was intended to serve as both the architectural nucleus and the symbol of authority in the town and proposals had been made to erect a magnificent building for the Board of the Admiralty there. However, in the Age of the Absolute Monarch the existence of an independent governmental department outside the capital could not be tolerated, and these plans were never realised. The Admiralty was housed in a small wooden building until 1776 when it moved to Stockholm.
In the end, the Wachtmeister Bastion, one of the main strongholds on the Enclosing Wall was erected on the site planned for the Admiralty building. Today the Admiralty clock tower stands on the Admiralty Square, and it was the Great Square
that became the centre of the town.

The fortification plans from 1683 called for a girdle of defences around the dockyard and the town. A large number of bastions connected by fortified walls would form an effective bulwark from attack both from land and sea. However, there was neither sufficient time nor financial resources available for this project, and in 1694 it was decided that a wall, an Enclosing wall, with a number of gateways should only be built around the harbour and
dockyard area. Of many planned bastions only the Aurora Bastion on the eastern side of Trossö has survived until the present. Work on the Enclosing wall continued until the end of the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century the authorities started to demolish the wall. Some sections of the wall can still be seen in the quarter to the north of Varvsgatan.

The planners of Karlskrona intended that the churches should play a prominent part in the life of the town. As with the temples of Greece and Rome they were situated on a spacious open Square and as church attendance was mandatory, the buildings had to be big enough to accommodate large congregations. The King, Karl XI, enjoyed absolute power during this period and placed considerable weight on the importance of religion. It is said that he had once remarked “True fear of the Lord is one of the most noble, indispensable and beneficial things in Our Armed Forces.”