Gustafsberg – Sweden’s oldest sea resort
Gustafsberg is Sweden's oldest bath and spa resort dating from the 18th century. Beautifully situated by Byfjorden is this nature reserve with its very exciting history and beautiful architecture.
Before Gustafsberg became a popular seaside resort, it was the welled water that was the reason for why the resort was visited. Lameness, hysteria and rickets were some of the diseases that were considered to be cured by the mineral-rich water. At the beginning of the 18th century, it had become modern to drink welled water. In 1729 the municipal doctor of Gothenburg, Jacob Boëthius, was commissioned to examine the water quality in Baggetofta, which Gustafsberg was called at the time, and he found it “strong of minerals and excellent”. By drinking a glass of the natural spring water every fifteen minutes or half an hour, depending on the condition and the ordination, one would recover from the disease that the walled water was considered to help against.
For an extra health-absorbing effect, in the 1780s, the well-drilling began to be combined with salty baths and Gustafsberg can thereby be considered Sweden's first sea resort. Here it was leafy, hilly and right by the salty sea, which meant that the place became much sought after. The true boost for Gustafsberg began, however, when King Gustaf IV Adolf and Queen Fredrika let his seedy little son Gustav visit the town of 1804. The fragile crown prince sparkled after the salty baths and people started to pilgrim here. By the 1830s, Gustafsberg was the beach resort everyone wanted to travel to and a series of celebrities of the past, such as Lars Hierta, Fredrika Bremer, Esaias Tegnér and Carl von Linné can be found in the guestbook.
Several of the houses in the area were built as guest houses after the two hot baths advent in 1814, to accommodate the prominent summer guests. The houses were named Grevgården, Tvåan, Slottet and Snäckan, and they are still called that today. When the interest in Gustafsberg as a bathing resort began to cool, there were about ten private villas built for wealthy Uddevalla families.
Until the 1850s Gustafsberg was Sweden's most luxurious seaside resort, and in addition to healthy baths, the days were spent walking in the park and conversations. In the evenings, the visitors enjoyed themselves in the grand hall savoring music arrays, theatrical performances and nifty proms. Many of the visitors were the mothers of married-grown daughters hoping to find a suitable future son-in-law.
Strolls in the leafy park
When you visit Gustafsberg today you go there to enjoy a stroll in the leafy park and a Swedish FIKA down at the beach or at the confectionery Snäckan. The settlement by Gustafsberg is well preserved with houses dating back to the late 18th century. The old seaside restaurant is a popular summer restaurant and at Lindesnäs, next door, you can enjoy a delicious dinner at Restaurang Villa Lindesnäs with a wonderful view of Byfjorden and Uddevalla.
The former swimming house is now a hostel and in the small bathing hotel one can still feel the wings of history. One of the rooms is wallpapered with beautiful Chinese rice paper stamps from the 18th century.