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The history of Jönköping

Between the City Library (Stadsbiblioteket) and the Archive House (Arkivhuset), a journey through Jönköping's history begin. Here, we'll find out what the city looked like as early as in the Stone Age. At the exhibition, you'll find everything from old skeletons to Jönköping's first steem engine, the 1870's fire truck. Join us on an exciting journey, one century at a time!

The name Jönköping means "trade in Junebäcken". The name comes from ´jun ', which is the original name of Junebäcken, and' köping ', which means trading place. Before the Middle Ages, the city was called Junakøpung.

The Middle Ages

The place where Jönköping would come to be formed was already populated in the Stone Age, and in the Middle Age it had become a functional society that thrived on the good hunting access, fishing and cultivation. There were also lakes, red soil and mosses, but the most important access was the iron ore that came to lay the foundation of the city. Today we would have called Junakøpung a village, and not a city. The village consisted of elongated wooden houses that were located inside the workshops and the small trading houses facing the street. North of ´Stora gatan´ (which was located close to what we now call Västra Storgatan) there was a stone church that rose above the city's low wooden houses. A monastery with gray monks could also be found close to lake Munksjön.

In 1284, Jönköping was considered a growing trading area as many roads crosses here. On May 18th of that year, King Magnus Birgersson Ladulås wrote a letter of privilege that gave the city the right to hold two annual markets. One was held in January, and the other one in October. It was now prohibited to buy and sell things on the countrysite, as the King wanted to gain control of the trade and thus be able to collect taxes and dutie levies. Trades were now only allowerd to take place in merchant towns, and this is when Jönköping truly became a city.

The Castle of Jönköping

Jönköping's Castle was built west of Munksjön. The castle was a result of Gustav Vasa introducing Protestant Christianity in Sweden in 1536. The building of the castle meant that Jönköping's monastery buildnings had to be rebuilt to a fortress that would defend the city. Jönköping's Castle was built in stages during the 1500s, 1600s, and 1700s, but it then burned down in 1737. The castle's central buildings were demolished, and a prision was built from most of its ruins. The last parts of Jönköping's Castle disappeared for good in the 1840s, when the last ruins were converted into a park.

Through the centuries

In the showroom, the current century is clearly marked on every stand. The exhibition is designed in such a way that the visitor can go straight to the big map on the wall from 1855, and then go around the room counterclockwise to see the order from the Middle Ages to the 2000s. But of course you can start in any order.

The 17th and 18th centuries

In 1612, Jönköping burned down and the king decided that the city should be moved so that it lay between Munksjön and Rocksjön, east of where it was located before. The bare ground in the new area meant that the residents had to find a new way to build their houses. A port pool is also excavated where Östra Torget is today, as well as a canal that we now call Kanalgatan. During this time, Sweden is involved in many different wars and Jönköping makes a lot of money in manufacturing and selling both weapons and uniforms. In the 1630s, the population grew to about 2000 inhabitants.

In the 18th century, a lot happened in Jönköping. The previously so rich and constantly growing city burned down and diseases ravaged, which led to a slowdown in the development. The time around 1710, Jönköping was hit hard as more than 800 people died from the plague. The city was also greatly affected by the peace agreement of 1721, which meant that the revenue from arms smithing disappeared. The residents of Jönköping therefore went from forging weapons to starting to create things that the locals needed. Various office jobs also appeared, as well as professions in, for example, pottery and tile stove makers.

19th century until today

The railway reached Jönköping and although the city's inhabitants were still farmers, trade and craftsmanship also grew in the 19th century. A new neighborhood was also built - the suburb. In addition, Jönköping began to pay salaries to city doctors, midwives and so on. But the sums differed greatly between the professions and those who received the lowest salary were the executioner and the nightman.

In the mid-19th century, Jönköping developed when factories and various workshops were founded. The best known are Munksjö Paper Mill, Jönköping Match Factory and Jönköping Mechanical Workshop. The next few decades were filled with experiments, new products and inventions that can be seen at the exhibition.

The industrial society continued to grow during the 20th century. More and more professions were also added when the health care was expanded, as well as when the shopping centre A6 was formed. In 1971, Jönköping became the central city in a municipality instead of city, and now consisted of several agglomerations with extensive sparsely populated areas. The city developed more and more into what Jönköping we know today. At the beginning of the 2000s there were 52,480 inhabitants in Jönköping's urban area, and more than 177,000 inhabitants in Jönköping municipality!

... learn more in the Archive House!

Come to the Archive House at Jönköping County Museum to learn more about Jönköping. Why not check out the skeleton of Jönköping's “oldest” man, crafts from the 18th century, or read about the forbidden objects ´Nkisi´? Here you can learn a lot about the city you are in!