North of Gävle, HUDIKSVALL, the provincial capital of Hälsingland, makes for a leisurely stop en route to the bigger towns and tourist centres further north. Its wood-panelled architecture and convenience for visiting the natural beauty of the nearby Hornslandet peninsula, jutting out into the Gulf of Bothnia, are the main draws. Train services are frequent along this stretch of coast.
Granted town status in 1582 by King Johan III and accordingly the second oldest town in Norrland, Hudiksvall has seen its fair share of excitement over the years. The original settlement was built around what had been the bay of Lillfjärden, at the mouth of the Hornån River, but when the harbour began to silt up, it was decided in the early 1640s to move the town to its current location: the old bay is now a lake, connected to the sea by a small canal.
The town has suffered no fewer than ten fires, the worst occurring in 1721 when Russian forces swept down the entire length of the Bothnian coast, burning and looting as they went. Hudiksvall, at that time an important commercial and shipping centre, bore the brunt of the onslaught. A further blaze, east of Rådhustorget, in 1792 led to a rethink of the town’s layout, and so the street plan which exists today was conceived.