A bicyle ride to Fårö

In the last few days I read in the news somewhere that the Ingmar Bergman Center in Fårö, (north of Gotland in the Baltic Sea) had received a grant of 15.6 million kronor to rebuild the center. Well if you've seen it as we did recently you'll realise it's well deserved. Here's the center now.

We got the bus from Visby. Travelled for an hour to Fårösund.  Hired some bicycles there and caught the 6 minute free ferry across to Fårö. Then rode for 40 minutes to this place. Of course it was closed as they're only open for the weekends. I just laughed. Though I'm sure they're opening up for the Ingmar Bergman week coming up on the June 25th. We did get to see his grave though which is in the Fårö church cemetery. A simple grave in the swedish style. Ingmar Bergman was of course Fårö's most famous resident for 40 years and made a few of his films here. 'Persona' being a famous one.

There's really not a lot on the island other than nature. The Fårö church and cemetery, the information centre and the Ingmar Bergman Centre is just about it, it seems. If you're looking to party look somewhere else! But the nature is absolutely pristine. Crystal clear water and air. (Actually I felt that as soon as I got out of the ferry in Visby. It's like your lungs start working properly.) It probably isn't in reality as the Baltic Sea is meant to be quite polluted however it looks it. It was a fairly cold, cloudy, windy day so nature kind of shortened our ride. We didn't get to see Langhammars sea stacks or many of the stunning beaches. But Fårö does have this kind of magnetic attraction. The limestone perhaps?

Taken from the bus from Visby to Fårösund. It was a Viking village display I think. But I'm not exactly sure as we went by in a couple of seconds.

On Fårö looking south towards Fårösund- a tiny town of about 862 people, 262 more than in Fårö. The island has an archaic feel. People have been here for a long time. About 3000 years, as archaeologists have found boat shaped graves and cairns from the Bronze Age. No settlement has been unearthed from this period though. Nor Viking houses either. Though some Viking silver coin hoards have been found.

The landscape of Fårö is famously stunted and flat and stony. The wind has had a kind of bonsai effect on the sparse pines forests. It's interspersed with swedish style farms and these small huts which I later found out were for the sheep. Called lambgifts (according to the internet). Sedge roofed shelters. Fårö of course means sheep island in swedish but to be honest there wasn't that many sheep. Just a few.

Riding along the main road from the ferry, a dry stone wall framing the pasture lands.
 The commercial hub of Fårö. There's 600 permanent residents that live on the island and they all must have to leave it to get some milk it seems.
Fårö Parish church. Ingmar Bergman is buried in it's graveyard. There were a few people visiting it. The church is actually from the medieval period but has been extensively rebuilt so doesn't retain much of the character. It contains the seal painting below which was commissioned by 15 seal hunters in 1603 who were lost at sea for 14 days.

We the men of Fårö can now rightly tell
Of our destiny for rich and poor
Look at this picture, read and mark well
How GOD is mighty in dire straits
We would like to tell you
So that you can spread the word to others
When the year 1603
On St Matthew’s Day in mild weather
We began to go out on the Ice
Our plan was to catch Skiäl-Fisk (seals)
But our luck took another turn
And our intention changed suddenly
There were fifteen of us altogether
Carried over the waves by the ice
Jacob Nors was the first I want to name
Christopher and Eskil and Nors Michel
Thomas Butlex and then Anders Austers
Staphen Gussemor and Hans came along
Rasmus Simunds and Hans Simunds were also there
Rasmus Ringvid and Peder Sudergård
Bottel Sudergård, Jurgen Mor, Hans Mor
Were all on the Ice from land
We were carried to Gulland (Gotland) from our Fårö
Then straight away to Gullands Sandsö
Where three of the forenamed men
Were able to get ashore on Sandö
These were Peder and Bottel Södergård
And Jurgen More who was the third.

They were brought back by the grace of God
To Fåro-island again both healthy and well
We others were left on the ice
To follow it, we knew not where
With Remorse, Hunger, Cold and dire Need
Constantly faced by the threat of death
Our food was raw Skiäle (seal meat)
 Which we had to eat without bread
For 14 days it kept us alive
Then GOD came and helped us when
The ice drifted all the way to Sweden
And delivered us from the agony of Death
We returned to our Fårö, Wife, Children, House and Home.
From Carl Von Linne’s (Linnaeus) ‘Gotlandic Journey’
(a non-rhyming literal translation to English from the Fårö Church pamphlet)

The tranquil waters of the Baltic Sea. It's the perfect place for shorebirds to breed as there's so few disturbances.
The stony water's edge of Fårö.

This was the bike lady's frontyard. Filled with a great collection of gnomes, farm animals and old farm equipment. Forgotten the name and address but it's on Strandvägen, Fårösund. All the people we met on the day were just really nice people.

 Old wooden fishing cabin at Fårösund.


  1. Hello! About Fårö: the name is actually a misunderstanding by a surveyor. He asked some Fårösund locals what they called the island, and they answered Faröin, wich means "the island you go (sail) to".
    The surveyor who was from the mainland was not familiar with the Gotland dialect and wrote down "Fårö", and it went on the official maps. On Gotland the word for sheep is lamm, and lambs are lammungar (sheepcubs.) Hence lambgift...

  2. Thanks for the bit of history. Interesting. Though I can't imagine they'd prefer to be called the island you go sail to.

  3. Thanks Sy you're very kind. It's always a challenge to capture a good photo.


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