The Maiden's Tower – Visby, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

The Maiden's Tower

Known locally as the Jungfrutornet, this Medieval tower hides a dark legend.  


When visiting Visby it is very hard not to be impressed by the sheer largeness of the town’s medieval city wall. It is largest on the land side so people typically don’t pay too much attention to the seaside wall. However, there is one small and unsuspecting tower there with a dark story attached to it. 

It is said that the tower was called the Jungfrutornet or Maiden’s Tower because it was used to punish the daughter of Nils Guldsmed by walling her inside and letting her slowly starve to death.

This cruel and unusual punishment was the result of a simple crush that Guldsmed’s daughter got on a visiting traveler. Little did she know that this traveler was, in fact, King Valdemar IV of Denmark, disguised so that he could gauge the cities defenses. Valdemar wooed the girl and promised to marry her when he next returned. And return he did, with a large army that slaughtered over 2000 Gotlanders on the first day alone. 

The city surrendered and the Danes took over Visby. People were not happy, but Guldsmeds daughter was overjoyed and proclaimed that Valdemar would marry her. Unfortunately, the king had already married in Denmark and had no more need for this girl. Leaving her behind when he left the island. 

Needless to say, the townsfolk was not happy with her and decided to wall her in a tower and let her starve. These days it is no longer believed that the girl died in this tower as it seems to stem from about 40 years after this war. Historians believe that the name instead stems from the fact that this is the smallest tower of the city and is named after the smallest unit of volume of the time, the Jungfru. (8.2 Cl or 2.8 US fl. oz.) However, the legend still exists.

Know Before You Go

The tower is freely accessible on both the inside and outside of Visby. You can walk up to it via the beach side and the city side. Access inside the tower is not allowed.  

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October 11, 2018

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