An hour’s trip along the coast from Sundsvall, HÄRNÖSAND is full of architectural delights, including a number of old wooden cottages dating from the 1730s, and is definitely worth a stop on the way north. The town’s highlights are the architectural treasures around the harmonious main square, Storatorget, and winding Östanbäcksgatan with its eighteenth-century wooden houses painted in gentle pastel shades. A short walk from the town centre, the extensive open-air museum at Murberget showcases vernacular architecture from around the country. Härnösand also marks the beginning of the stunningly beautiful region of Ångermanland – one of the few areas in Sweden where the indented, soaring coastline resembles the fjordlands of neighbouring Norway.
Härnösand was founded at the mouth of the Ångerman River by King Johan III in 1585. In 1647, the town was selected as the capital of the second most northerly diocese in Sweden and, accordingly, the new bishop decreed that the old stone church, which already stood in the town, be enlarged into a cathedral. The town has since had more than its fair share of disasters: in 1710, flames tore through it after drunken churchgoers accidentally set fire to a boathouse; just four years later, Härnösand fell victim to a second great fire, started by a group of school students. Newly rebuilt, the town was razed by a third blaze in 1721, during the Great Northern War, when invading Russian forces burnt every house to the ground, bar one.