Bergslagen is a vaguely defined area in Svealand in central Sweden. It is known as the historical heartland of Swedish mining, metallurgy and industry. During the 20th century most mines closed down, and as of 2020, only three mines are operational in the district. However, several industrial and mining heritages remains including the two UNESCO World Heritage sites in Falun and Fagersta.
The area contains large parts of Västmanland, Dalarna (called Dalabergslagen) and Värmland (called Värmlands bergslag). More inclusive definitions also tend to include adjoined parts of Närke, Södermanland County, Östergötland, Uppsala County and Gävleborg county.
The most productive Swedish mining district today is Malmfälten in Kiruna Municipality.
Traditional mining and industrial sites
- 1 Fagersta — An iron works in Västmanland, home to the world's oldest oil refinery and the UNESCO World Heritage site Engelsbergs bruk.
- 2 Falun — A copper mine in Dalarna. By far the largest mining town and mine in Bergslagen. Its mine is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- 3 Filipstad — An iron mine in Värmland.
- 4 Hällefors — A silver mine in Västmanland, known for the culinary academy and restaurant in Grythyttan.
- 5 Kristinehamn — An iron works and steel industry in Värmland.
- 6 Ludvika — An iron works and sawmill in Dalarna, today known for the ski-resort Säfsen.
- 7 Nora — An iron works in Västmanland, famous for its well-preserved wood architecture.
- 8 Sala — An underground silver mine in Västmanland, today available for guided tours.
The oldest traces of mining in Bergslagen have been found in Röda jorden (the Red Earth) in Skinnskatteberg, Västmanland, and dates to the bronze age around the 8th century B.C. During the middle ages the area was increasingly populated in order to utilize the easily available ore. Bergslagen is first mentioned in written sources in the 14th century as royal mining charter's. Every charter was designated to a collective with their own jurisdiction called "Bergslag", hence the name for the area. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries the mining expanded and Bergslagen became the "iron basket" of Europe, supplying most of the ore for guns and cannons used in European warfare. Falu mine alone produced as much as two thirds of Europe's copper! While ore could be found in many places around Europe, the forested Bergslagen also had the timber needed for efficient ore processing. During this era many skilled laborers from Europe, most notably from Wallonia, migrated to work in Bergslagen.
During the 19th century industry was concentrated to the largest industries, leading to "Bruksdöden", the death of several smaller works. During the 20th century Bergslagen lost many of its competitive advantages. For example, Bergslagen's water power became less relevant as alternative sources of energy where adopted, and with reduced transportation costs Bergslagen's location in central Sweden became less of an advantage. With the international steel crisis in the 1970s most of the remaining mines where closed down, making Malmfälten in Kiruna Municipality the largest mining area in Sweden. Today Garpenberg mine, dating to the 14th century, is the only remaining mine operating in Bergslagen.
Stockholm Arlanda Airport ARN IATA, while located outside of Bergslagen, is by far the largest airport in Svealand. 1 Dala Airport (BLE IATA) (outside of Borlänge). and 2 Stockholm Västerås Airport (VST IATA) (just 4 miles/6km from the centre of Västerås). are smaller but closer to the heartland of Bergslagen.
The European highway E18 connects Stockholm in the east with Oslo in the west and passes south of Bergslagen. To reach Bergslagen, turn north onto Route 70 in Enköping, Route 56 or Route 66 in Västerås, Route 50 in Örebro, Route 26 in Kristinehamn or Route 63 in Karlstad.
Highway E16 also connects Oslo with Gävle, and passes through the northern edge of Bergslagen.
- Mora–Borlänge (–Avesta) (timetable 50)
- Gävle–Storvik–Falun–Borlänge–Ludvika–Örebro–Hallsberg–Mjölby (53)
- Gävle–Storvik–Avesta–Örebro–Hallsberg (54)
- Ludvika–Fagersta–Västerås (also known as Bergslagspendeln) (55)
- Örebro–Hallsberg–Laxå (64)
- Ekomuseum Bergslagen, Nils Nils gata 7 Ludvika, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A decentralized open-air museum about the history of iron industry in western Berslagen. Started in 1986, today it has some 60 sites, making it the largest ecomuseum in the world. Notable sites include:
- 1 Engelsbergs bruk, Ängelsbergsvägen 4 (Fagersta), ☏ . A traditional ironworks and UNESCO World Heritage site.
- 2 Nya Lapphyttan & Karlbergs hembygdsmuseum (Lapphyttan & Karlberg Homestead Museum) (Norberg), ☏ . A reconstructed medieval village. Lapphyttan, dating to somewhere between 1150 and 1350, is considered the type site for the Medieval Blast Furnace.
- 3 Röda Jorden (The Red Earth) (Skinnskatteberg Municipality, Västmanland). The oldest known traces from metal working in Bergslagen comes from this site, dating to the 8th century BC.
- 4 Falun Copper Mountain, Gruvplatsen 1, ☏ . A copper mine and UNESCO World Heritage site, closed down December 8, 1992. It is however still open for visitors during guided tours and an adjoined "Mining museum". 220 kr for adults.
- 5 Garpenbergs gruva (Garpenbergs mine). Dating to the 14th century, this is the only remaining mine still operating in Bergslagen.
- 6 Sala Silvergruva, Drottning Christinas väg, ☏ . A silver mine closed in 1962. Today open for visitors during guided tours.
The food most commonly associated with Bergslagen is "Falu sausage" (Swedish:Falukorv), traditionally made from draft oxen operating the Falu mine. The land is also great for foraging (which can be done freely, due to the right to roam), fishing (which usually requires a license) and hunting (which is very restricted). Filipstad is home to the world's biggest baker of crisp bread, Wasabröd, and the snacks producer OLW. NoraGlass is a local manufacturer of ice cream in Nora. The area between Norberg and Köping in central Västmanland County is known as "Sweden's pizza belt", with about one pizzeria per thousand inhabitants!
Grythyttan, outside of Hällefors, is known for its culinary academy and restaurant Måltidens hus.
- See also: Mining tourism#Stay safe