Back in medieval times, Kalmar was already an important centre for commerce and politics. Many important meetings took place here, the most famous of which the Union Meeting in 1397 at which the Kalmar Union was established. Sweden, Denmark and Norway were parts of a single kingdom until 1523, when Sweden withdrew, and Gustav Vasa was proclaimed as king.
Kalmar’s original urban core grew near Kalmar Castle and Castlesfjärden (Castle Bay), the site of the major harbour. The Danish attack on Kalmar in 1611 caused major devastation. The city needed a safer location, and in 1640 a decision was made to move the city centre to its present location on Kvarnholmen. Kalmar residents were first unwilling to move, but after a fire in 1647, the decision was implemented.
Almost everywhere in central Kalmar, there are reminders of the importance Kalmar once possessed. You can see it in the carefully renovated buildings and fortifications from the period when Sweden was a major power. Many of the old buildings now host charming shops, restaurants and pubs.