Town square, Alderholmen, old town, the high-rise "Fullriggaren" at Gävle Strand, the town hall, buildings alongside the river of Gavleån
Nickname(s): Gevalia
Coordinates: 60°40′29″N 17°08′30″E / 60.67472°N 17.14167°E / 60.67472; 17.14167Coordinates: 60°40′29″N 17°08′30″E / 60.67472°N 17.14167°E / 60.67472; 17.14167
Country Sweden
Province Gästrikland
County Gävleborg County
Municipality Gävle Municipality
  City 42.45 km2 (16.39 sq mi)
  Metro 1,615.07 km2 (623.58 sq mi)
Elevation 8 m (26 ft)
Population (31 December 2010)[1]
  City 71,033
  Density 1,673/km2 (4,330/sq mi)
  Urban 96,969
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 80x xx
Area code(s) (+46) 26
Website www.gavle.se

Gävle [ˈjɛːvlɛ] is a city in Sweden, the seat of Gävle Municipality and the capital of Gävleborg County. It had 71,033 inhabitants in December 2010, which makes it the 13th most populated city in Sweden.[1] It is the oldest city in the historical Norrland (Sweden's Northern Lands), having received its charter in 1446 from Christopher of Bavaria. However, Gävle is far nearer the greater Stockholm region than it is to the other major settlements in Norrland.

In recent years, the city has received a lot of international attention due to its large Yule Goat figure made of straw - the Gävle Goat. The goat is erected in December each year and is subsequently, more often than not, subject to vandalisation by someone setting it on fire. The goat has now become a symbol for the city and is being used for various marketing purposes.


Old town (Gamla stan)

It is believed that the name Gävle derives from the word gavel, meaning river banks in Old Swedish and referring to the Gavleån (Gävle River). The oldest settlement was called Gävle-ägarna, which means "Gavel-owners". This name was shortened to Gävle, then Gefle, and finally Gävle.

Gävle is first mentioned as a town in official history books in the year 1413 but only received its official town charters in the year 1446.[2]

For a long time Gävle consisted solely of small, low, turf or shingle roofed wooden buildings. Boat-houses lined the banks of Gavleån, Lillån, and Islandsån. Until the 18th century the town was built, as was the practice then, around the three most important buildings: the church, the regional palace, and the town hall. Over the last 300 years Gävle has been ablaze on three different occasions. After the fire of 1776 the town was rebuilt with straight streets and rectangular city blocks. The number of stone and brick houses also started to increase. The biggest town fire occurred 1869, when out of a population of around 10,000 approximately 8,000 inhabitants lost their homes, and about 350 farms were destroyed. Almost the whole town north of Gavleån was burnt down. All the buildings south of Gavleån were saved. An area of the old town between the museum and the library has been preserved to this day as a historic reserve, Gamla Gefle.

After the catastrophe of the fire Gävle developed its characteristic grid plan with large esplanades and green areas. It is now a green town with wide avenues. Stopping the spread of future town fires was the main idea behind this development.

An extensive redevelopment of the central town area was started during the 1950s. Around 1970 Gävle became a large urban district when it was united with the nearby municipalities of Valbo, Hamrånge, Hedesunda, and Hille. New suburbs like Stigslund, Sätra, Andersberg, and Bomhus have grown up around the central city.


Gävle park with the river Gavleån

Gävle is situated by the Baltic Sea near the mouth of the river Dalälven. At 60 degrees north and 17 degrees east, Gävle has the same latitude as Helsinki and the same longitude as Vienna and Cape Town. Bordering municipalities are Söderhamn, Ockelbo, Sandviken, Heby, Tierp and Älvkarleby. Twenty kilometers west of Gävle lies Sandviken.


Gävle has a similar climate to the rest of central Sweden, with an average temperature of around −4 °C (25 °F) in January and 17 °C (63 °F) in July. Yearly rainfall is around 600 mm (23.62 in). Under the Köppen climate classification Gävle is classified as humid continental,[3] in spite of the significant maritime influence. It is also one of the northernmost cities by significant size in the world with this climate type, since areas north of the 60th parallel for the most part is dominated by various subarctic climate types. Under the 1961-1990 normals, Gävle's fourth warmest month was just around the isotherm of 10 °C (50 °F) to not be classified as subarctic, but temperatures did go up sufficiently to be clear humid continental since.

Climate data for Gävle
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 11.0
Average high °C (°F) −0.7
Average low °C (°F) −7.5
Record low °C (°F) −30.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 48.0
Source #1: SMHI precipitation average 1961-1990[4]
Source #2: SMHI climate data 2002-2014[5]


View of the harbour, approx. 1940-1959

Trade from the port of Gävle increased markedly during the 15th century when copper and iron began to be exported from the port. In order to ensure that all trade was via Stockholm, sailing to foreign ports from Gävle and a few other ports was forbidden.

During the 16th century, Gävle was one of the most important port and merchant towns with many shipping companies and shipyards.

In 1787 Gävle was awarded "free and unrestricted sailing rights" to and from foreign ports. This led to an increase in trade, which in turn led to an increase in buildings, industrial developments, trade and shipping.

Today there are few shipping companies or shipyards left, but an important port remains. It has over 1000 ships calling per year and is among the top ten common ports in Sweden.

Major companies


Gävle has, considering its size, a large and well nourished cultural life, being a cradle for many musicians such as The Deer Tracks and The Sound of Arrows. The city applied for becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2014.

Arts and museums

Gävle concert hall, home of the Gävle Symphony Orchestra

The prison museum of Sweden, the county museum of Gävleborg, and the national railway museum are the three largest museums in the city. The prison museum is located near Gävle Castle and depicts the history of crime and punishment in Sweden. The county museum (located downtown) hosts an art collection spanning from the 1600s to present time and well as a section dedicated to cultural history. Finally, the Swedish Railway Museum (Rälsgatan 1), hosts a collection that began to accumulate in 1906 in Stockholm and which was moved to Gävle in 1970.

Gävle has a theater dating back to the 1800s. It is still used for performances today, including classic theater, opera, variety and stand-up.

There is also a concert hall in Gävle which was inaugurated in 1998. It is home to the 1912 Gävle Symphony Orchestra, whose principal conductor is Jaime Martín.


Gefle Dagblad founded in 1895[6] and Arbetarbladet are the two leading media outlets covering Gävle in the papers. Both have a long history dating back to the early 1900s and the late 1800s, respectively. Aside from this, the Swedish national public TV broadcaster, SVT, has an editorial office in the city and the national public radio Sveriges radio broadcasts from the city.


Gavlerinken, home of Brynäs IF

Gävle has teams competing in the highest national league in football (Gefle IF) as well as ice hockey (Brynäs IF) and Floorball (Gävle GIK).

Ice hockey



  • Gävle KK
  • Gävle BWK
Speed skating
  • Hagaströms SK


  • Gefle baseboll



The University College of Gävle currently enrolls 14,500 students.[7] It offers over 800 courses and 45 degree programs in technology, social- and natural sciences and the humanities. Its research profiles are "Built Environment" ("Byggd miljö") and "Health in working life" ("Hälsofrämjande arbetsliv").[8] Some courses are offered in English and are taken by both international and Swedish students.


Gävle is known for being the birthplace of the Gevalia coffee brand, which is produced by Kraft General Foods Scandinavia and exported around the globe. Gevalia is particularly popular in the Americas and produces dozens of unique flavored coffees for the United States that are not available to its customers in Europe. However, visitors who come to the factory in Gävle can sample many of the premium blends. (Gevalia is the Latin name for Gävle).

Other brands from Gävle include the throat lozenges Läkerol and the car-shaped sweets Ahlgrens Bilar.

Gävle preserves the memory of the Swedish-American labor activist and martyr Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, better known as Joe Hill, who was born there in 1879. The Hägglund family home still stands in Gävle at the address Nedre Bergsgatan 28, in Gamla Stan, the Old Town. As of 2011 it houses a museum and the Joe Hill-gården, which hosts cultural events.

Gävle goat

Main article: Gävle goat
The Gävle Goat in 2009.

The history of the Gävle goat began in 1966. Stig Gavlén came up with the idea of placing a giant version of the traditional Swedish Christmas goat of straw in Slottstorget (Castle Square) in central Gävle. On 1 December the 13-metre tall, 7-metre long, 3 tonne goat was erected on the square. At midnight on New Year's Eve, the goat went up in flames. The goat has since had a history of being burnt almost every year, 2005 being the 22nd time it was burnt. Burning the goat is an illegal act and not welcomed by most citizens of Gävle, but undoubtedly this is what has made the goat famous. In 2006 the goat was covered in a flame-resistant coating to prevent arson, enabling the goat to remain standing throughout that winter. On December 27, 2015, the goat was burnt for the 28th time.

Notable people

European Cooperation


Gävle Hospital has approximately 300 physicians, and serves an area of approximately 150.000 people.[11] It has a centre for clinical research in cooperation with Uppsala University.[12]

Twin towns – Sister cities

Gävle is twinned with 5 cities:[13]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Localities 2010, area, population and density in localities 2005 and 2010 and change in area and population". Statistics Sweden. 29 May 2012. Archived from the original on 17 December 2012.
  2. "Gävle stads privilegier - Gefle från A till Ö" (in Swedish). www.gd.se. 2012-09-10. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  3. "Gavle, Sweden Climate Summary". Weatherbase. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  4. . Swedish Metereological and Hydrological Institute (Gävle code 10 740) http://www.smhi.se/klimatdata/meteorologi/nederbord. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. . SMHI. March 25, 2015 http://www.smhi.se/klimatdata/meteorologi/temperatur/2.1240. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. Gustafsson, Karl Erik. "Gefle Dagblad". www.ne.se. Nationalencyklopedin. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  7. About the University of Gävle
  8. Om Högskolan (Swedish)
  9. Andreas Rudman and his Family (by Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig. Swedish Colonial News, Volume 2, Number 1. Winter 2000)
  10. "Eurotowns".
  11. Gävle sjukhus at jobblanken.se, part of Internetmedicin. Updated 2012
  12. Centre for Clinical Research – Gävleborg (CFUG) from Uppsala University homepage > Medicine and Pharmacy > Centres. Updated: 11/29/2011.
  13. "Vänorter, partnerskap och nätverk". gavle.se. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  14. "Sadraudzības pilsētas". jurmala.lv. Retrieved 26 April 2014. (Latvian) (English)
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