Ystad´s history in a nutshell


12th century

Bishop Absalon, Bishop of Roskilde and Archbishop of Lund, brought peace to the area. Fishing families began to settle the mouth of the river Vassa, near where the Tourist Office is today. Herring fishing became the main source of trade.

Klostret i Ystad

13th century

Saint Maria church, Ystad’s oldest building and one of Skåne’s oldest brick churches was built. Ystad was mentioned for the first time in 1244 when King Erik and his brother Abel visited the town.

Gråbrödraklostret, the Abbey, was founded by the Franciscan order in 1267 following archiepiscopal intriguing between the church and the royal authorities, Ystad remained a royal town.

This is substantiated by the town seal which bears a lion.


14th century

Ystad joins the Hanseatic League and was annexed by the Swedes on a number of occasions.

Queen Magaretha, Queen of the Union, visited the town in 1387 and spent some time staying at the partially completed Franciscan monastery.

15th century

The southern part of Scandinavia’s oldest half timbered house, Pilgrändshuset, was built in 1480 and the four wings of the Franciscan monastery were completed.

There were four wells on Stortorget as well as the town hall – complete with beer cellar.


16th century

Many houses built at this time are still standing. These include Änglahuset and Kemnerska garden, Latinskolan, Brahehuset and Birgittahuset.

In 1532, the monks were thrown out of the monastery during the Reformation.

The abbey’s northern and western wings were demolished and the remaining buildings were used as a hospital and poor house.


The earlier town hall with the city’s archives had been burned to the ground by the Swedes in 1569. Saint Nicolai church on Stora Östergatan was pulled down in 1572. The material was used to build a Town Hall on Stortorget.

Herring fishing went into decline but the trading of horses and oxen with north German towns continued. A charter giving Ystad the right to export oxen was granted in 1599.

17th century

Ystad grew in importance as an export port for oxen; they were loaded onboard at Packartorget just in front of where the Hotell Continental stands today.

The tower of St. Maria church collapsed in 1648 and Ystad was finally annexed by the Swedes in 1658. The population of Ystad was approximately 2000. Post yachts began sailing from Ystad to Stralsund.

Valven under rådhuset - Numera Restaurang Store Thor
Ystads hamn 1901

18th century

The tower of St. Maria church was rebuilt.  Karl XII visited the town on a number of occasions as he travelled to and from the Continent. The wooden defence wall was replaced by an embankment but the city gates remained.

19th century

Napoleon’s blockade of the Baltic heralded a boom in (smuggling) trade for Ystad and many merchants made a fortune; this is reflected in the grand houses they built such as Hembergs hus, Siriushuset and Nya Rådhuset.


Skeppsbron is central to the history of Ystad; the harbour breakwater was begun in the early 19th century.

Coastal woods were planted to help prevent shifting sands, this helped to establish Ystad as a resort at the turn of the century.

The Ystad-Eslöv railway was completed in 1866 and the Ystad-Malmö line (Lordship line) was opened in 1874.

In the 1890s, Ystad was established as a garrison town and barracks were built on Stallgatan. The theatre on Stortorget was destroyed by fire and replaced by a new theatre on Sjömansgatan in 1894, which is still running as one of the best preserved theatres in Sweden.


20th century

The Ystad Archaeological Society was form-ed in 1907 when the monastery was saved for coming generations.

In 1936, Ystad arranged Fritiden (Leisure), a much talked about event all over the world. The art museum was built as were playgrounds and cycle paths. Half-timbered Town became Recreation Town!

In the middle of the 20th century ferries started to run from Ystad to the Danish island of Bornholm and Swinoujscie in Poland..

Military units were billeted in the new garrison on the east side of the town – cavalry, infantry, an armoured division and anti-aircraft batteries. They stayed there until the garrison closed in 1997.

21st century

Ystad was one of the pioneer-cities in film in Sweden at the beginning of the 20th century, and it now re-establish its position as a film-city of importance.

In 2004 Ystad Studios was established on parts of the grounds of the closed garrison. This investment makes Ystad one of the three film-centres in the country.

As a special add to the touch, Ystad also has Biografteatern Scala, which is the oldest cinema in Sweden, restored to its origin, with modern equipment.

Ystad Studios Visitor Center
Publicerad 2010-12-27, Uppdaterad 2020-11-04