The Omberg is situated in Östergötland on the shore of Lake Vättern. This mountain is Sweden's most species-rich forest landscape with many rare natural environments. The bold beech forest on the slope of Vättern, the giant oaks in the pasture landscape and the colourful mowing meadows are just three examples.
A mile-long steep bank characterizes the mountain to a large extent. Visitors can enjoy the fantastic view from Hjässan - Omberg's highest point -, walk among giant oaks and more than 100 years old fir trees or be enchanted by beautiful orchids in Omberg's limestone moors.
Nature and Geology
Both - Omberg's vegetation and its animal life - are as varied as its highly remarkable geological conditions. The Omberg is a so-called eyrie and is surrounded by distortions on all its sides. The mountain itself consists mainly of granite. In the southeastern part there is also some gneiss at the age of 1.8 billion years. On the side of the mountain facing Vättern, above all slate and sandstone emerges, which was formed 850-600 million years ago. North of Omberg's granite mass, near Borghamn, limestone is in an almost horizontal deposit. Limestone has been mined there for a long time, and this is still the case today. The undisturbed bearings show that the dislocations at Omberg must be younger than the Ordovician (before 485.4 - 443.4 million years between Cambrian and Silurian).
The name Omberg is made up of the old Nordic "ama" (for fog, smoke) and mountain. Its meaning is thus "mountain of fog" or mountain, surrounded by haze and fog.
The tract around Omberg has been inhabited for a long time, and the pile dwellings at Alvastra bear witness to this. Man has left many interesting traces here.
During the turbulent period of migration around 400-500 AD, three so-called "Hillfort castles" were built on the Omberg. The Hjässaborg in the south is the largest with a 450 m long and 1.5 m high wall. Borggården is the best preserved castle. It is located about 2 km north of the Hjässatorget. Drottning Ommas Borg is the smallest and is located on the northwestern tip of the Omberg.
In the 12th century the Ombergstrakt became a centre for the Sverker dynasty. At about the same time a nobleman from Östergötland, Sverker, was elected king of Sweden. During his reign, the monastery was founded by Alvastra. The monastery was abandoned after King Gustav Vasa had confiscated the properties of the church for the state. During the monastery's time, at least five farms were set up on the Omberg, including Stocklycke, Elvarum and Höje. In connection with the creation of the state enclosure Stocklycke became the seat of the animal keepers and Höje domicile of the inspector.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Omberg was one of Sweden's largest state enclosures, i. e. the king's private hunting grounds. These were difficult times for the local farmers. They were forced to maintain and guard the 15,6 kilometer long fence around the enclosure so that no wolf or lynx could enter the area. At the same time, there was great poverty and poaching was a great temptation. The punishments were harsh if one was caught: beating with the rod, imprisonment or punishment in a fortress of the crown. The enclosure was closed in 1805. The majority of the harts were transported to Stockholm's animal park - the Omberg became Kronopark.
In the spring of 1859 a state forestry school was established in Höje, and at the same time the use of the Omberg forest began. During the forestry school epoch, a number of exotic tree species were settled on the Omberg, such as silver fir and larch, in order to increase the students' knowledge about foreign tree species. The forestry school was closed in 1935. The traditional forestry on the Omberg continued until 2003, when the Ecopark was inaugurated.
Ecopark is a larger coherent forest landscape with valuable nature and great nature conservation ambitions. With its 1700 hectares of land, the Omberg is one of Sveaskog's smaller ecoparks, but at the same time one of the most visited. Every year around 150,000 people visit the legendary mountain with its bold nature and many cultural monuments.
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1. Ecopark Centre Omberg
The Ecopark Centre in Stocklycke is a good starting point for a visit to the Ecopark, nature walks, hiking trails and guided nature and culture walks start here.
2. Stocklycke äng
Stocklycke äng is a meadow with fantastic flowers. Sunroses, common milkwort (swed. Jungfrulin) and primroses grow here.
Stocklycke Youth Hostel and Café
Stocklycke Youth Hostel and Café
3. Stocklycke Youth Hostel and Café
At this place there was originally a farm, which belonged to the monastery in Alvastra. The youth hostel is one of the oldest in Sweden and is located in the middle of the beech forest of Omberg, just a few hundred metres from Lake Vättern. The hostel is Sweden's oldest and open all year round.
Staircase at Stocklycke Harbour
4. Stocklycke harbour
Until the 1950s, the port was of great importance for the economy of the Omberg region. Wood from forestry on the mountain was shipped from here to the industries on Lake Vättern. In only a short distance south of the harbour there is a visitor-friendly cave on the lake shore.
5. Rödgavels grotto
Rödgavel's grotto is the largest of fifteen caves on the steep bank of the Vättern. Water runs through the ceiling into the lake. Legend has it that Queen Omma mourns her injured suitor. In cold winters, the tears of Queen Omma freeze to long icicles in the cave. The ice formations take on the shape of the gnomes, trolls and also the medieval monks who had sought shelter in the cave. Rödgavel's grotta extends twenty-one metres into the mountain and has a ceiling height of 1.2 metres. She can only be reached by boat.
Beech forest nature reserve
6. Beech forest nature reserve
The Beech forest nature reserve is a beech and noble leaf forest on the slope to Lake Vättern. Here at the Omberg, beech tree is found its northernmost habitat in eastern Scandinavia. The nature reserve is home to the oldest and strongest specimens.
7. Västra Djurledet
In the first half of the 17th century, a state enclosure was built on the Omberg. It was surrounded by a 21-kilometre-long and about four-metre-high gärdesgård, which was maintained by the local farmers. Names such as Södra and Västra Djurledet (southern and western animal path) and Brottsledet (stone quarry path) are remnants of this period and refer to openings in the fence.
8. Ellen Keys villa Strand
Ellen Keys villa Strand is located in an inviting spot on Vättern, surrounded by beech forest. This is where the writer Ellen Key (1849-1926) lived during her last period of life. The house was a meeting place for important artists and writers of the time. Guided tours take place here from May to September.
for single visitors, max 20 persons/guided tour. Pre-booking required. For prebooked groups, special tour times apply.
Saturday-Sunday 11 and 14.
15 May–30 June:
Tuesday-Sunday 11 and Uhr.
Saturday-Sunday 11, 12 and 14.
28 June–14 August:
Tuesday-Sunday 11, 12, 14 and 16.
15 August–31 August:
Tuesday-Sunday 11 and 14.
1-30 September: Saturday-Sunday 11 and 14.
Prices for guided tour:
Youth 7-15 years 30:-
Children 0-6 years free, no booking.
Alvastra, 599 93 Ödeshög, +46-144 330 30
Ellen Keys Strand
The Sverkersgården is a medieval remnant from the time of King Sverker and the powerful Sverker dynasty that ruled Sweden in the 12th century. Here at this place were the remains of a crypt church. However, the square was used long before Sverker's time.
The Sverker Chapel was uncovered during excavations in 1917-1919. At the time, it was thought to be the burial chapel of the Sverker royal family. However, finds from modern times suggest that the building was an economic facility (grangie) of the nearby Cistercian monastery in Alvastra, which must also be seen in connection with the monastic facilities in the Ålebäcken valley.
Hundpromenad vid Ålebäckens mynning
11. Ålebäcken / Alvastra kvarn
The Ålebäcken is one of the two outflows of the Tåkern. The monks had built a dam, a horizontal water mill and a brickworks here in the valley near where it flows into Vättern. There was also a pier for shipping directly at the outlet into the Vättern. Is this where the limestone that was quarried in Borghamn and from which the monastery was built was landed?
In the 12th century, Alvastra was associated with the history of the Sverker's dynasty. This was the ancestral home of the royal family, and it was here that Sverker the Elder fell at the hands of a murderer (probably his horse boy, instigated by the Danish heir to the throne) in 1156 on his way to the Christmas service in the church of Västra Tollstad. He was subsequently buried in Alvastra Monastery. The stone commemorates this.
13. Ombergs Turisthotell
Ombergs Turisthotell is a classic hotel from 1914 and is the same age as Gyllenhammar's pension in Borghamn. Together with the former tourist hotel in Borghamn they are witnesses of the development of tourism on the Omberg.
Alvastra monastery ruin. [from Ödeshögs hembygdsbok]
14. Alvastra Monastery ruin
The monastery of Alvastra was founded in 1143 by French Cistercian monks. The Holy Birgitta received her most important revelations here. During and as a result of the Reformation in the 16th century, the monastery was dissolved after King Gustav Vasa had confiscated the properties of the church. The stones of the buildings were taken away and reused for the construction of the castle in Vadstena and Per Brahe's buildings at Lake Vättern. The Alvastra monastery became a ruin.
15. Pile dwellings
The pile dwellings of Alvastra are Sweden's only pile dwellings of the late Stone Age and one of the oldest prehistoric sites dating back to about 3100 years before Christ's birth. The pile dwellings are interpreted as a central place of ritual importance and with a relatively short useful life. Nowadays there is not much to see above the earth, but there are signs describing the complex.
16. Södra Djurledet
Here at Södra Djurledet was one of the five gates that allowed access to the state enclosure.
Pentecostal excursion to the Hjässatorget. [From Ödeshögs hembygdsbok]
17. Hjässan and Hjässaborgen
The Hjässan, the highest point of the Omberg with a height of 263 metres, is one of the most popular excursion destinations on the Omberg. It offers an excellent view over Vättern, Tåkern and the Östergötland plain. On the mountain there are remains of the Hjässaborg, the largest of Omberg's three hill forts with a massive 450-metre-long stone wall, which originally could have been several metres high.
On the way to Sweden's tallest fir tree
18. Sweden's tallest tree
Sweden's tallest tree is a silver fir. It is 49.5 m high (measured in 2016) and has a circumference of 3.30 m at the foot. The fir tree was planted by Omberg's Skogsskola (1859-1935) only a stone's throw away from the school.
19. Former forestry school
Former forestry school on the Omberg (1859-1934). The forestry school was founded in 1859 by the Swedish Forestry Commission to train forest guards on behalf of the state. The training lasted one year. The school was closed in 1934. During the existence of the forestry school, numerous experimental plantings of imported tree species were made on the Omberg.
20. Höje Lilläng
The best meadow flora of the Omberg can be found on Höje Lilläng. Together with the provincial government of Östergötland, Sveaskog restores the former meadows by traditional mowing and grazing.
21. Mörkahålkärret's nature reserve
Mörkahålkärret's nature reserve consists of a lime moor with several different kinds of orchids, such as fly orchids and marsh orchids, as well as many other plants that like calcareous soil.
The steep slope, which is well worth seeing, drops down almost vertically in the Vättern. Along a deep gorge it is possible to descend to the lake. Limescale deposits create a mosaic-like pattern in the slope.
23. Per's stone
The giant Per from Tiveden has left his trail (s) here in the form of a boulder, Pers Sten, at a curve of the Lake Road. Per threw the stone across the Vättern in order to destroy the church bells in Heda, whose ringing bells bothered him.
24. Norra Sjövägen (Northern Lake Road)
The Norra Sjövägen begins in Stocklycke and runs as a one way road to Borghamn. From it you can enjoy overwhelming views.
Trail at Borggården
The best-preserved of Omberg's three hill forts is located in a secluded location about two kilometres north of the Hjässatorget. The fort itself is relatively small and lies on a ledge facing east.
There is no scheduled service to Omberg. But at Östgötatrafiken you can book journeys between Vadstena and northern Omberg as well as between Ödeshög and southern Omberg. Read more on Östgötatrafiken - Närtrafik (In swedish only, use translation function for information in English).
26. Älvarums udde
Älvarums udde is a bold place at the Vättern with a barbecue site, wind shelter and swimming and fishing opportunities.
27. Storpissan's nature reserve
The Storpissan Nature Reserve is a forest rich in fir trees with many old trees. The forest has many deadwoods and stumps in different stages of decay, attracting a number of insects, lichens and birds. In spring, Storpissan's outflow in the Vättern forms a powerful stream.
View from Makersbergen on Dags Mosse
28. Dags Mosse
The extensive moor between Tåkern and Omberg was originally a bay of Lake Tåkern. Peat is extracted here in an ecological way. The moor is drained to the south through the Ålbäcken, which flows into the Vättern.
Makersbergen has a nice view of Dags Mosse, Tåkern and the plains. Shelter with fireplace outside the pasture.
Renstadsfällan is a flowery natural pasture landscape where primroses bloom in summer.
31. Ragels kärr
Ragels kärr (bog) is the headwaters of the Storpissan brook, which flows into the Vättern in Älvarum Bay.
View from Marbergen
Marbergen offers a beautiful view over the surroundings, for example the nature reserve of Storpissan.
33. Omberg's giant oaks
The giant oaks on the Omberg are in an area of sixteen hectares. About forty trees are several hundred years old. By keeping the area open and with the help of grazing animals, Sveaskog restores the pasture landscape that existed 150 years ago. There are numerous unusual insects living in trees, including the rare hermit beetle.
Ombergs äldsta ek
34. Omberg's oldest oak
Below Sjövägen you can see an oak tree, which began to grow in 1374. It was the same year as Hl. Birgitta's remains were sent back to Vadstena from Rome (she had died in Rome the year before).
35. Hälle källor (Springs of Hälle)">Hälle källor (Springs of Hälle)
The Hälle springs on the Omberg were probably already used as a ritual site in pre-Christian times and experienced a documented heyday in the 19th century. Nowadays, they are mainly used as a watering hole for thirsty hikers. Above the springs is a little-known wind shelter with a barbecue place and a view.
The Vitlerbäcken is a lime-rich brook, where a lichen inventory was carried out.
37. Västra Väggar
Västra Väggar offers a fantastic view over the Vättern.
38. Hålmossen's nature reserve
On the eastern slope of Omberg there is a pearl of calcareous bogs and calcareous wetlands with a very rich flora and snail fauna. Here, moving groundwater gushes forth in springs. A couple of these bogs are part of the Hålmossen nature reserve.
Winter rest until 27 March.
Book online. The café and restaurant is open 11-17 daily in the summer and at weekends in autumn and spring. +46-13-81000.
Open from Easter to October.
Winter rest in January.
Kafé på Skedet
Kafé på Skedet is a popular summer café, famous for its pastries and bread, pub afternoons, so called "middagsklubben", music entertainment and art exhibitions. Open thursday 11-17, friday/saturday 11-22, sunday 11-17. ¨46-73-702 2097.
Hotel and Restaurant. Open all year round.
Stocklycke Youth Hostel and Café
Book accomodation via homepage. The café is open on Easter weekend from 12-16 when an Easter buffet is served. Thereafter, the café is open on weekends from 12-16 until the summer holidays, open Tuesday-Sunday between Midsummer and the start of school. +46-70-531 8582
Ödeshögs Youth Hostel
Open 1 May - 15 September. Book via
+46-144-107 00, or Youth Hostel Mother Eva Gustafsson +46-72-544 7166.
39. Ostmossen's nature reserve
The nature reserve consists of a mosaic of different nature forms such as lime moor, wet meadows, dry limestone meadows, open pastures as well as deciduous and coniferous forests, often with a marshy character. The flora is rich. About ten species of orchids can be found, as well as a lot of other plants that require a calcareous environment. In addition, Ostmossen with the nearby Ombergsliden forms one of Sweden's most distinguished places of residence for large butterflies. Almost 300 different species were counted here. That is one third of all butterfly species in Sweden.
Hl. Hjärtas Kloster (Convent of the Sacred Heart)
40. Hl. Hjärtas Kloster (Convent of the Sacred Heart)
The Convent of the Sacred Heart is located on a beautiful natural slope on the Omberg hill, which was inaugurated in 1997. Here the sisters live a monastic life according to the rules of St. Benedict with the Virgin Mary as mother and example.
41. Ombergsliden's nature reserve
Ombergsliden is mainly known for its rich orchids. Here one encounters species such as fly orchid, spotted orchid, broad-leaved helleborine, marsh helleborine, listera ovata, early marsh-orchid and the rarely encountered gymnadenia odoratissima. In the bogs of the nature reserve, which are rich in minerals, unusual snails such as the vertigo geyeri can be found.
42. Ombergsliden's ski slope / Mountain Lodge
Ombergsliden is a ski area on the east side of the Omberg. It offers two pistes, two lifts, a toboggan run, Big Jump and the Mountain Lodge winter café.
The Vallgatan runs east of Sjövägen from Drottning Ommas Borg to Höje. It is closed to general traffic.
The narratives describe Omma as a very pretty woman who had no shortage of suitors and lovesickness. She was most harassed by the red-bearded giant Roedgavel. Ever since he saw her dancing with her bridesmaids in the meadow of Stocklycke early one morning, he was head over heels in love with her, but his hot feelings seem not to have been reciprocated. Once, however, Roedgavel managed to lure the beautiful queen to join him in a mountain cave. When he became pushy, Omma complained about the heat in the cave. When Rödgavel then opened the door a crack, Omma wrapped herself in a veil of mist that danced full of scorn across the bay of Hästholmen, up the Ålebäcken and over the Tåkern. The giant who tried to follow her trampled into Dags Mosse and drowned.
Anudden is a small headland with a very beautiful beach made of cobble stones.
The Marsasten is an glacial erratic which, according to legend, was rolled by the giant Mars to its exposed location directly above the Marsabäcken waterfall near Steneborg. There is a picnic table here and a view over the plain near Borghamn in spring. The blue-yellow-marked footpath that once led here from two sides has been worn away by forest clearance and is difficult to recognise. The route marked with two red dots by a local resident is a new route and does not lead to Marsasten.
Traces of the state enclosure
Here at the quarry and the old road to the Omberg, the north-eastmost opening was in the fence of the royal enclosure. The gatekeepers' houses were not demolished until 1946.
Drottning Ommas Borg
47. Drottning Ommas Borg
Drottning Ommas Borg is the northernmost and smallest of the three hill forts on the Omberg from the migration period of 450-550 AD. Thanks to the steep slope to Vättern, the castle was impenetrable from the west. A double wall with palisades provided protection on the east and northeast side. There are many legends surrounding the castle. Verner von Heidenstam (1849-1940) wrote the poems "Bygdeborgen" and "Borgen susar", which deal with Queen Omma.
The small cemetery is idyllically situated in the middle of a grove of mighty oaks and hazel bushes under the northern slopes of Omberg. The small hills conceal about 80 graves of men from the Crown Labour Corps, i.e. prisoners who worked in Borghamns limestone quarry . They quarried stone for the fortress of Karlsborg on the western shore of the Vättern. A simple wooden cross has been erected at the site: "Here, between 1860 and 1894, around 80 men from the Crown Labour Corps were buried. They quarried stone for the Karlsborg fortress." ("Här begravdes 1860 - 1894 omkring 80 man ur kronoarbetskåren. De bröto stenen till Karlsborgs fästning.")
Limestone quarrying in Borghamn
49. Borghamn's limestone quarry
Limestone has been used in Sweden as building material since the beginning of the 12th century. Here in Borghamn, the Cistercian monks began to break limestone for their monastery in Alvastra, which was consecrated in 1143. Since then, the quarry has been used continuously to this day. Other important buildings using limestone from Borghamn were the monastery church in Vadstena, the Götakanal, Karlsborg Fortress and the National Museum.
50. Former Fishing Museum
The Fishing Museum was housed in the former laundry building of the Kronoarbetskorps and displayed equipment and fishing methods from Borghamns history.
51. Borghamn's harbour
The western part of the harbour in Borghamn was built between 1813 and 1827 by the Göta Canal Company to cope with deliveries to the construction sites on the Göta Canal between Motala and the Baltic Sea. In the second half of the 19th century, the eastern part was added with the so-called Bondbryggan for the transport of grain to Western Götaland.
52. Borghamn Strand
Borghamn Strand was opened in April 2019 in the old premises of the former Borghamn School and is a popular destination for hikers and day visitors in Borghamn and on Omberg. Here you will find accomodation with hotel and hostel standard, a harbour café, sauna and kayak rental. The facility was a work station under the direction of the Crown Labour Corps, after the swedish state bought the quarry and harbour in 1842. Guided tours within the historic Borghamn depart from here. There are also tours of the limestone quarry and walks in the quarrying tracks of Borghamn.
53. Borghamnsten AB
Borghamnsten is a natural stone processing company in the tradition of the historic limestone quarry at the northern end of Omberg. The company processes limestone from Borghamn and marble from its own quarries in Brännlyckan (near Zinkgruvan) and Ekeberg (near Glanshammar).
A greeting from Omberg: Ombergs forestry school, (from Ödeshögs hembygdsbok)
Former forestry school on Omberg (1859-1934). The forestry school was founded in 1859 to train foresters on behalf of the state. The training lasted one year. The school was closed in 1934. During the time of the forestry school, among other things, numerous experimental plantings of imported tree species such as silver fir and larch were made in order to expand the students' knowledge of foreign tree species. You can experience the many tree species from the forest school days along the forest trail Skogsslingan (Forest loop, Trees and bushes), which starts at Hjässatorget. The school buildings are now privately owned.
Source: Skogsencyklopedin, published by Sveriges Skogsvårdsförbund (now Föreningen Skogen), Stockholm 2000, and Sveaskog.