From the very beginning, Sigtuna made a habit of being first. Founded by King Erik Segersäll around 970 AD, it became an important international trading post and Sweden’s first town.
As the first modern monarch, Erik strived to form a united country under the new religion Christianity.”. Initially this was a rather controversial concept for rivalling Lords in the region, but Erik knew how to build loyalties with the right people and soon made peace with both them and the church. At the centre of it all was Sigtuna, a bustling main street for all kinds of trade. Around this street a thoroughly planned town was built, rewarding important lords with attractive lots. The city structure is largely preserved to this day.
Some 1,000 inhabitants welcomed traders from such exotic places as Byzantium, Russia, Ukraine and the Middle East, which helps to explain why Sigtuna also introduced the first Swedish coins. Skilled coin makers were recruited from Britain to design and produce the first coin, featuring the head of King Olof on one side, and a crucifix on the other.
The area flourished, and many foreigners are believed to have settled permanently here, sharing their knowledge, crafts, and international net- work. Today, the home of Sweden’s largest airport, Sigtuna is the first place to welcome most inter- national travellers.
Sigtuna offers an immensely rich history. Take Ingegerd, daughter of King Olof, for example. She married the Russian lord Jaroslav, became a powerful advisor and peacemaker and ended up as Saint Anna within orthodox Christianity.
The wooden buildings along today’s main street were built in the 1700s and 1800s. And even today, just like a thousand years ago, the small shops, cafés and restaurants attract visitors from near and far.