At the riverside Lilla Bommen harbour Gothenburg’s industrial decline is juxtaposed with its artistic regeneration to dramatic visual effect. To the west, beyond the harbour, redundant shipyard cranes loom across the sky, making a sombre background to the industrially themed bronze and pink-granite sculptures dotted along the waterfront.
Boats leave from Lilla Bommen for the popular excursion to the island fortress of Nya Älvsborg built in the seventeenth century to defend the harbour and the city; the surviving buildings have been turned into a museum and café. On the half-hour guided tours of the square tower, chapel and prison cells (included in the price of the boat trip) you’ll hear about violent confrontations with the Danes, and some of the methods used to keep prisoners from swimming away – check out the set of iron shackles weighing over 36kg.
North along the riverbank is Utkiken; designed by the Scottish architect Ralph Erskine (who also designed the Sydney Opera House) in the late 1980s, this 86m-high office building resembles a half-used red lipstick. Its top storey offers panoramic views of Gothenburg and the harbour, and there’s a café, too.