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Visiting the Central Railroad Station, Gothenburg, Sweden: Massive Edifice by Adolf Wilhelm Edelsvaerd, Completed 1858

Updated on April 20, 2020
Flag of Sweden
Flag of Sweden | Source
The inauguration of Gothenburg (central) station. Oktober 4, 1858
The inauguration of Gothenburg (central) station. Oktober 4, 1858 | Source

Sweden's Ellis Island in reverse?

Building on the Central Railroad Station (Swedish: Centralstationen) in Gothenburg (Swedish: Göteborg ), Sweden, began in 1856 and was completed in 1858.

The structure's architect was Adolf Wilhelm Edelsvaert (1). Its official opening was celebrated with pomp.

However, certain somewhat melancholy associations of the building may have made memories of the opening ceremony, though undoubtedly legitimate, somewhat muted, at least from a Swedish perspective. Gothenburg has long been Sweden's largest port and it is significant that approximately one million Swedes were to arrive at the Central Railroad Station in order to leave the country for good; many of them would eventually arrive in America.

Thus the Central Railroad Station may be said to be somewhat of a Swedish Ellis Island in reverse: dispatching huge numbers of emigrants, rather than welcoming them. By any standard, a series of events imbued with a certain solemnity.

5 separate railroad lines converge at the Station, which is among the largest in Sweden; one of these lines links with Norwegian destinations.

The Central Railroad Station's main south-facing elevation is characterized by repeated arching and a high, sloping roof. The structure has a limestone floor and wooden pillars. Interest in heritage aspects of the building were increasingly shown by the City or National authorities from the 1970s onwards.

Considerable rebuilding on the structure occurred after a serious fire in 1923. In 2003, the building underwent an expansion program.

A bus station joined to the building — the Nils Ericson Terminal — is named for a prominent, 19th century Swedish engineer (2).

The Central Railroad Station is situated adjacent to the Drottningstorget (Queen's Square), in Downtown Gothenburg.

July 31, 2012


(1) Architect Edelsvaerd served as chief architect for the Swedish state railroad company (Swedish: Statens Järnvägar). Particularly given the relatively large distances in this northern European country with a relatively small population to its size, only the state had the means to sponsor a viable, national railroad system . (In recent years, this Swedish state railroad company was divided into a number of separate entities, but these — in a typically Swedish way — remained state companies.) Regarding Architect Edelsvaerd himself, something of his personal standing was reflected in the forty years during which he held the post of chief architect to the state railroad company.

(2) Engineer Nils Ericson (1802-1870), from a background in military engineering, was responsible for building a sizable proportion of Sweden's railroad and canal network.

Gothenburg Central Station
Gothenburg Central Station | Source
Gothenburg Central Station
Gothenburg Central Station | Source
Adolf Wilhelm Edelsvaerd
Adolf Wilhelm Edelsvaerd | Source
"The Emigrants" by Swedish painter Knut Ekwall (1843–1912). Oil on canvas, date unknown, but before 1912.
"The Emigrants" by Swedish painter Knut Ekwall (1843–1912). Oil on canvas, date unknown, but before 1912. | Source
Map location of Gothenburg, Sweden
Map location of Gothenburg, Sweden | Source

Also worth seeing

In Gothenburg itself, its canals, for which Dutch engineers were responsible, are picturesque; museums include: the Maritime Museum, the Volvo Museum, the City Museum of Gothenburg and the Gothenburg Museum of Art; north of the city, at Säve, the Aeroseum aviation collection specializes in insights into Cold War defence measures.


How to get there: Delta Airlines (with KLM) flies from New York via Amsterdam to Gothenburg -Landvetter Airport (Göteborg-Landvetter flygplats). North American visitors making London, England a base, may find it convenient to fly with Ryanair from London Stansted Airport to Göteborg-City Airport . Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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