Kristianstad, in Scania, Converts a Risk Into a Major Opportunity

Vattenriket Visitor Centre LR 2

Weather Conditions Challenges in Kristianstad

In 1617 Kristianstad served as a protective bastion that safeguarded Danish interests in north-eastern Scania before Sweden annexed the county in 1658. The bastion was built on a peninsula that provided for a natural protection against any approaching enemy. Today this location has given the city specific problems in times of heavy weather conditions, with risks of becoming flooded. With a growing population, draining of land areas became necessary in the 19th century and walls were built to keep the water off the city centre. Effective pumps have also been installed. As a result the lowest point in Sweden, 2,41 meters below sea level, can be found in Kristianstad. The present city hospital with neighboring areas is situated on a former sea floor. Only in 2002 a critical situation emerged when the water level rose 2,15 meters above sea level and the protective wall at Hammarslund was close to collapsing. To save the situation 50.000 ton of rock was transported to the critical section over five days. The water flow in river Helge and the sea is now controlled with the help of Flood Watch that gives ten day prognoses to the authorities. If required, a siren called “hesa Fredrik” (hoarse Frederic) will alert the citizens to any danger.

Converting a risk into an opportunity

This lowland next to the sea carry its risks but at the same time, through its rich and varied nature, offer opportunities that the officials decided to make use of. An application was sent to UNESCO proposing to form a Biosphere Reserve in the area now called Vattenriket. A biosphere area is “designated to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and the nature”. Kristianstad Vattenriket was granted this status only in 2006 and the present Naturum Visitor Center was opened as recently as 2010. Vattenriket has been a success from the beginning with more than 100.000 visitors in its first year.

The recent action plan has included e.g. protection of sandy grasslands, expansion of the knowledge of the ecosystems in river Helge and the lakes, development of ecotourism on land and sea as well as specific projects e.g. concerning the eels and forest management. The development of the Visitor Centre as the gateway into Vattenriket has produced many activities including eagle and crane watching, water safaris, exhibitions, hiking, bird watching, fishing to mention some. In Sweden many public sights, including Vattenriket, are accessible for people with disabilities.

The Carl von Linné Walk

A visit to Kristianstad also gives an opportunity to walk the footsteps of well known botanist Carl von Linné. He visited this area some 250 years ago to make his observations of the surrounding nature. The six kilometer long route starts from the Visitor Centre and makes a full circle returning to the same spot. Along the route are remnants of an old fortress, Härlövsborg, from the days of King Karl XI who lay siege to Kristianstad during the Danish-Swedish war in 1675-1679 when the city was under Danish rule.

The following interesting spot is Lillöhus that was a sizable medieval stronghold owned by the Tott family. It was also attacked and destroyed by Swedish troops in 1658 to be excavated only in the 1940’s. Today it carries an exhibition about the medieval lifestyle at Lillöhus.

The Linné Walk is very well designed and easy to follow. Resting places along the route allows one to enjoy a cup of (picnic) coffee while observing the surrounding nature. Towards the end of the Walk the route follows river Helge and reaches a small museum, Kanalhuset, before ending at the visitor centre.

Spring time will bring large amount of cranes to the area (mainly to Pulken). The regional news reported more than 2000 cranes landing in 2013 that were offered special feeding to protect the surrounding fields.


Kristianstad, with its city center nominated as the center of the year 2014, can today offer a major tourist attraction to serve Northern Europe. It can be reached in less than two hours from Copenhagen international airport.

Kristianstad now also holds valuable know-how in handling flood situations.


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