Skansen Lejonet: Landmark of Lion, Medieval Fortress, Standing Still in 21st Century

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ATHENA Ethical MEDIA

One of the striking landmarks of Gothenburg is the Skansen Lejonet. The Lion Redoubt or Skansen Lejonet is the fortress located on the top of a hill by the Central Station in Gothenburg. One can walk from the Central Station navigating through the rail tracks and the roadways through the pedestrian pathway. The other nearest stop to the fortress is Svingeln bus- and tram-stop. The landmark stands quite centrally in Gothenburg but during the medieval times it was on the outskirts of the town. Gothenburg will celebrate its 400th anniversary in 2021.

Skansen Lejonet or the Lion Redoubt is a 17th century fortress. It was built when Sweden had to defend itself from Danish and Norwegian incursions and when the clashed in the area were fought in the area the mouth of the Göta River since the early Middle Ages. In the current location of Skansen Lejonet, in 1303 Sweden’s King ordered the Gullberg Fortress to be built on top of Gullbergsklippan overlooking the river bank of Göta Älv. According to Statens Fastighetsverk, the fortress was subjected to repeated attacks, repairs and reinforcements and in 1612, Denmark captured the Swedish territories of the West Coast and totally destroyed the fortress. When Sweden regained this area, it needed to set up defences against new attacks. As the man in charge of building and maintain Sweden’s defences, Erik Dahlbergh had Skansen Westgötha Leijon (today known as Skensen Lejonet) built on Gullbergsklippan in 1687. Its purpose was to protect the newly fortified city of Gothenburg and the whole of Västergötland.

ERIK DAHLBERGH: Erik Jönsson Dahlberg (1625-1703) was a Swedish military officer (served as an engineer – architect and draftsman, governor general and field marshal) and represented Sweden in the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) fought in Central Europe. Born to peasant parents but he rose to the social status of nobility with his military competences.

The National Property Board of Sweden (Statens Fastighetsverk) mentions “Dahlberg had the round redoubt tower surrounded by a star-shaped fortification. From this, one could shoot both far and near. Thanks to the ingenious shape, it was possible to fire in all directions, including all the walls, to defend the fort. Karl XI opened the six-storey redoubt in 1689, but its abilities were never put to the test in the battle.

“Over time in Gothenburg changed from a fortified city into a centre of trade. In 1807 it was decided to demolish the fortifications, but the two redoubts Lejonet and Kronan were spared. Skansen Lejonet served as a storehouse, first for gunpowder factory and later for Sweden’s home guard. In 1893 the redoubt was fitted with a new four metre copper lion to replace the original wooden lion that had rotted away. After 1942, Skansen Lejonet was left to deteriorate. Götiska Förbundet (the Gothic Order) highlighted the state of the redoubt in 1972, which led to a major renovation. Two years later King Carl XVI Gustaf reopened Skansen Lejonet.”

The fortress is a listed historical monument and part of the cultural heritage of Sweden, and managed by the National Property Board of Sweden. Today it is run by Götiska förbundet, and used for banquettes, conferences and private parties with a capacity for 90 guests. Götiska förbundet is an organisation that wants to contribute to the good development of Sweden by emphasizing the virtues of courage, moderation, fairness, equal rights for men and women, and to protect humanity and law-abiding people, and renounces xenophobia and discrimination.