My boyfriend is not the most religious of folks, so it’s a rare day in Sweden that he says he wants to go to church. Because of that, I didn’t really argue with him when he said he wanted to go to Feskekörka (a phonetic* spelling of “Fish Church”) when we were in Gothenburg last weekend.
Of course, it wasn’t really a church.
Instead, it’s a big fish market, selling seriously the most beautiful fish and sea food I have ever seen in my whole life. Not to mention the amazing, fanciful displays at one stall.
The Fish Church was established in 1874 after the wives of the fishermen at the time said they needed some sort of building to sell their fish from. I can only imagine how cold it must have been handling cold, dead fish outside in Sweden in the fall. Yikes.
In response to their request, the city architect at the time, Victor von Gegerfelt, built them this market hall. According to Gothenburg’s website, he was inspired by both the Norwegian stave churches and Gothic stone churches. As a further note, since I know nothing about churches, apparently “stave churches” are Medieval wooden churches with a post-and-beam construction (obviously this is all coming from Wikipedia…), and they got their name from the wooden weight-bearing poles, or staves. Gegerfelt wanted his church to be totally without poles on the inside, though, and you can see the result a few picture down.
When Feskekörka was built, it was a pretty futuristic experiment and quickly got the name “Fish Church” because of the way it looks from the outside.
Even though it’s not a real church, people have gotten married there—the first couple in 1970. Our guide did not say whether it was a common occurrence or not. Apparently they also have a lot of other events there, too, like wine tasting and the national oyster-opening competition…
It’s pretty big inside. There are four vendor stalls and two restaurants, and even if you are staying in a hotel it would be well worth stopping by before lunch to pick up some ready-made food for a picnic in one of the three thousand parks nearby. (Seriously, Gothenburg had a ton of parks.)
We hadn’t had breakfast yet when we passed through, so the idea of fish or seafood at that hour was not that appealing in comparison to my hopes for a giant cinnamon bun. Even so, I noticed that one of the stalls offered made-to-order baguette sandwiches. MMM. It sounded really good.
I had to take a picture of the “lyxig” smörgåslängd (“luxury/gourmet” long sandwich) below. It’s meant for three people, and it looks fantastic. It’s also a pretty good illustration of what luxury sandwiches look like in Sweden: slices of lemon, various greens strewed on top, and the obligatory cucumber slices everywhere. I guarantee you that there’s either butter or mayonnaise somewhere in there, too, to balance out all the freshness.
Swedish people also like it when you take one kind of food and wrap it around another kind of food and then garnish it with some sort of berry. As seen below.
Next time I’m in Gothenburg and I’m feeling particularly rich and fancy, I would love to go to one of their restaurants in the evening and have some fantastic seafood overlooking the canal. Actually, I just looked it up, and I don’t even have to be that rich and fancy. Maybe the next time we’re in Gothenburg we actually will have dinner there.
Address: Rosenlundsgatan, 41120, Göteborg (Gothenburg)
Open hours: Tuesday to Thursday, 9 am-5 pm; Friday, 9 am-6 pm; Saturday, 9 am-6 pm; closed Sundays and Mondays
Telephone: 0046 313 684 200 if you’re calling from another country, 031 368 4200 if you’re calling from within Sweden
*Phonetically, you’d pronounce Feskekörka like “FEH-skah-SHUR-kah” if you’re American and understand the way I’m writing these vowels…