The municipality of Kristinehamns Kommun is the south-easternmost municipality in the central Swedish province of Värmlands Län. It stretches along the north-eastern shore of Lake Vänern, Sweden's largest inland lake. The central town is the old harbour town of Kristinehamn, situated at a bay of the Vänern.
Displayed on the map as an elongated outline, Kristinehamns Kommun has a maximum extension of about 52 kilometres in a north/south direction and about 23 kilometres in an east/west direction. With a total area of 1,385 square kilometres, it ranks in the middle compared to the other 15 municipalities in the province, but its land area is only about 755 square kilometres, while the rest consists of water areas.
The Vänern, whose north-eastern archipelagos are part of the municipality of Kristinehamn, is a major contributor to this, but so are the 40 or so other lakes spread across the municipality. The largest of these is the 132-square-kilometre Skagern in the far south of the municipality, where Kristinehamns Kommun borders the municipalities of Gullspångs Kommun in Västra Götalands Län and Karlskoga Kommun in Orebro Län.
Over two-thirds of the municipality is forested and about 15 percent of the land area consists of fields, meadows and pastures. Topographically, the landscape is predominantly flat and interspersed with rolling hills. On the shore of Lake Vänern it is very rugged, sometimes rocky, and not far from the shore it is blessed with a picturesque archipelago consisting of numerous islands.
Sights in Kristinehamns Kommun
15 nature reserves spread across the municipality offer numerous opportunities to get to know the different features of the regional nature and landscape. Most of the nature reserves are between 30 and 200 hectares in size, but also reach sizes of up to more than 2,000 hectares, as in the case of the Nötön-Åråsvikens Naturreservat. In addition, several marked hiking trails with lengths between 1.5 and 100 kilometres offer further good opportunities to discover the different regions within the municipality.
During the summer months, various boat tours offer the opportunity to explore several of the islands in the picturesque archipelago of northern Vänern. A special highlight are tours on the bojer Christine af Bro, a replica of a historic Dutch flat-bottomed ship. It is no coincidence that such a ship is depicted on Kristinehamn's coat of arms, as it was the type of ship used when the town on Lake Vänern became the most important port of disembarkation for cast iron from the Bergslagen mining and smelting region in the 17th century. From there, the ships sailed across the Vänern and then down the river Göta älv to the seaport in Gothenburg.
The cultural-historical centre of the municipality is the small medieval town of Kristinehamn. Initially, the town was known as Bro (Bridge) as a manor and trading centre since the 13th century and was granted town privileges in 1582. The privileges were withdrawn again in 1584 and given to Karlstadt, as the town was chosen as the provincial capital. Due to its increasing importance for the iron trade, Bro was given back its city rights by Queen Christina in 1642 and the new name Kristinehamn was assigned to it.
A good insight into the region's cultural history is provided by the exhibitions at Kristinehamns Historiska Museum, a visit to the local history museum Björneborgs Hembygdsgård or a walk through the picturesque old town of Kristinehamn. With Kristinehamns Konstmuseum the region has a good address for both national and international art exhibitions. Not to forget the 15-metre-high Picasso sculpture, a work of art of international rank standing on a small headland on the shore of Lake Vänern since 1965.
Kristinehamns Kommun in figures
About 24,000 people live in Kristinehamns Kommun, which results in an average population density of 32 inhabitants per square kilometre. However, this slightly higher population density compared to the national average is put into perspective by the fact that about 19,000 people live in the immediate urban area of the central town of Kristinehamn alone. The rest of the municipality is therefore rather sparsely populated; for example, Björneborg, the second largest town in the municipality, has only about 1,200 inhabitants.