Gammelstad, with its church and 424 wooden buildings and a total of 555 separate rooms, is the largest and best-preserved example of a 'church village' in Sweden.
Church villages, uniquely found in northern Scandinavia, grew in the north due to large parish areas and difficult geographical and weather conditions – factors that made it quite a trip for churchgoers to actually get to church. Solution? Build a village around the church where you could sleep overnight, meet other parishioners, and stay for weekly masses and church celebrations.
The red cottages were traditionally used as intended up until the 1950s and now? The village is a living community and open-air museum. Some of the cottages are still used by churchgoers for major seasonal church celebrations.
Check with the visitor centre for seasonal activites. You can go on quaint lantern guided tours, visit a cottage, take a horse and sleigh ride, learn about traditional cooking, and try handicrafts such as butter churning, blacksmithery, bread baking and candle making.