Gotland: Ferry to Gotland
Gotland is an island in the Baltic Sea, almost half way between mainland Sweden and the Baltic states. Territorially and politically, it’s part of Sweden, while historically, culturally and geographically it’s an an entity of its own. Gotland changed many hands throughout history – from 10-13th century its capital Visby and the rest of the island was the most important city-state of the Hanseatic league. Sweden took control of the island in 1288. Denmark invaded and took over in 1361. In 1394, the Guild of Victual Brothers, loosely organized Baltic Sea pirates made Visby and Gotland their sovereign state. Then a decade later, German Teutonic Knights invaded, got rid of pirates, nearly wrecked everything and took control. The Teutonic Knights then sold Gotland to Sweden, then reoccurred it back and sold to Denmark. A couple of centuries later, Sweden took control of the island again. Interestingly, in 1806 Sweden offered the island to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who had just lost Malta as their home. The Order of Malta chose to move to Rome instead, which turned out to be a good trade, since Gotland was invaded and occupied by the Russians. It took several years for Sweden to dislodge Russia and take the island back. What a mess!