Eighty kilometres northeast of Ystad, quiet KRISTIANSTAD (pronounced “cri-SHAN-sta”) is eastern Skåne’s most substantial historic centre and a convenient gateway to Sweden’s southern coast. With an elegant cathedral, a beautiful little park containing a fine Art Nouveau theatre, and boat trips into the local bird-rich wetlands, Kristianstad can easily detain you for a relaxed day-long visit.
Kristianstad dates from 1614, when it was created by Christian IV, Denmark’s seventeenth-century “builder-king”, during Denmark’s 44-year rule here. The earliest and most evocative of the king’s Renaissance towns, it was a shining example of Christian’s architectural preoccupations, with beautifully proportioned central squares and broad, gridded streets flanking the wide river. Christian nurtured plans to make the fortified town one of Denmark’s most important, and it wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that the fortifications were finally levelled, allowing the town to spill beyond the original perimeter. The late-nineteenth century saw the creation of Parisian-style boulevards, pleasant to wander through today, though the many bland buildings erected during the 1960s and 1970s have left the town with a rather dull appearance.