There used to be a religious fervour about the town SKELLEFTEÅ, 140km northeast of Umeå. In 1324, an edict in the name of King Magnus Eriksson invited “all those who believed in Jesus Christ or wanted to turn to him” to settle between the Skellefte and Ume rivers. Many heeded the call, and parishes mushroomed on the banks of the Skellefte River. By the end of the eighteenth century, a devout township was centred around the town’s monumental church, which stood out in stark contrast to the surrounding plains and wide river. Nowadays, though, more material occupations, including computer and electronics industries, and the mining of gold and silver, support the town. Since there’s little to see in the town centre you would fare better concentrating on nearby Bonnstan, comprising an engaging collection of battered log cottages gathered together to form the kyrkstad (church town), plus the proud Neoclassical church, which houses one of Norrland’s proudest exhibits – the medieval carving of the Virgin of Skellefteå.

Nearby, the rickety Lejonströmsbron is Sweden’s oldest wooden bridge, offering elevated views of the Skellefte River. Skellefteå is also well placed for jaunts into the Swedish inland with good bus connections to Arvidsjaur and Arjeplog.

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