Gothenburg’s oldest suburb, Haga, is one of the most famous districts in the city. Known for its charming setted streets and old wooden houses, the Haga district was established by Queen Kristina in the mid-17th Century. It was originally built outside the Gothenburg city walls in a neighbouring field, and in fact the name Haga comes from the old Swedish word hage, which means ‘field’.
Haga is famous for its unique architectural style – beautiful, often ornately-worked wooden houses known as landshövdingehus, or Governor Houses. The houses are generally three stories high, with the first level built of stone. This was because of building restrictions that were imposed because of the numerous fires that had decimated Haga (and Gothenburg) throughout its history. The regulations decreed that wooden buildings could only be two stories high. By having a third, lower story built of stone, the inhabitants of Haga cleverly got around this technicality! In the mid 1800s, when Gothenburg was establishing itself as an industrial centre, Haga became a workers’ district in response to housing demand from the growing number of workers moving to Gothenburg for work. In 1879 Hagabadet spa was opened, and today you can enjoy a little bit of luxury and still bath in the same pools as when it first opened.
By the 1920s, Haga was primarily a residential zone, but one that had developed something of a bad reputation. In the 1960s the city decided that the district was to be demolished and redeveloped. The Gothenburgers were having none of it however, and a society, the Haga Group, was established in 1970 to ensure the preservation of this historically and architecturally important district. Although some buildings were still torn down, restoration of many houses was undertaken, and some replicas were also built to replace older buildings, keeping the historical feel of the district. By the late 1990s the Haga district became highly gentrified and its population declined from around 15,000 in the 1800s to around 4,000. The district is in fact a parish in its own right, and it is the smallest parish in Sweden in terms of its land area (Hagakyrkan, the parish church, stands at the entrance to Haga).
Today, the area is a flurry of activity, filled with boutiques shops and cafes, especially on the main through-road,Haga Nygatan. If you are after modern Swedish design try Market 29. If you are in the mood for some fantastic kitsch check out Unicorn and Sons, who have a fantastic range of Rice products and a whole bunch of things you never knew you needed. If shopping for a treat for little ones have a look at Kawaii and Millefiori (which also sells wonderful jewellery making accessories). In HagaTrätoffelfabrik you can buy traditional Swedish wooden clogs, and Haga Interior is home to a wonderful selection of unique gift ideas, and in Tvåla&Tvaga you can buy handmade soaps from Gothenburg, one of which is even named after Haga itself! If you love antiques, Haga has several wonderful antique shops, such as FåfänganAntik and Bebop Antik, where you are sure to find something special and absolutely unique. If you are after sustainable fashion, Thrive is the place for you. This store sells clothes made from recycled and sustainable materials, from coats made from recycled plastic bottles (you’d never know!) and stockings made of recycled nylon.
In Haga it is always fika (coffee and cake) time, and HagaNygatan in particular plays host to some great places to break up the shopping adventures. Le Petit Café has the most amazing homemade cakes and baguettes, and Husaren is home to the biggest cinnamon bun in Gothenburg, the Hagabulla. En Deli is an amazing place to stop for some of the best salads in Gothenburg, and offers free food refills. At the eastern end of Haga near Järntorget, you will find the two of the Långatorna streets, AndraLångatan and TredjeLångatan, which are home to a plethora of wonderful restaurants and bars (AndraLångatan tends to be a little cheaper ($-$$) than TredjeLångatan ($$$-$$$$)). If you want to take home a little bit of the taste of Gothenburg, stop in at Bräutigams on Haga Nygatan for some of Gothenburg’s very own marzipan.
It’s not just the shops and cafes that make Haga a fun place to visit. The district has a truly unique atmosphere that makes it a great place to spend some time. At Christmas and Easter time you can wander along and browse the outside market stalls that line the streets, and the lampposts and street signs are always festively decorated. On some sunny days if you look closely you might even spot some welcoming boutiques for the local mice! Standing sentinel and proud over the roofs of Haga is the SkansenKronan , a fortress built in the late 1600s to protect the city from Danish invasion. So are you wondering what to do when you visit Gothenburg? Take a walk up the stairs to the top and you will be treated to one of the best views of the city!
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