Jerusalem is never far away in Sweden.
In fact, it is just next door for many Swedes.
Our long country is dotted from north to south with villages, hills, moorlands, mills, meadows, and mountains that have borrowed their names from the faraway Holy City. In all, thirty-eight “Jerusalems” are registered in the Swedish Place-name Register. There is even a “Joy of Jerusalem”. And then we have one city, the fifth largest, Jönkoping, which is known as “the Jerusalem of Sweden”, because of its many free churches and reputation as a place largely inhabited by religious people.
The Jerusalems of Sweden are – with some exceptions – situated in the four counties surrounding Stockholm. A thousand years ago this region, with Uppsala as its centre, was also a battleground for the power struggle between the old pagan beliefs and new Christian teachings. When members of the Swedish nobility embraced Christianity – not firmly established in the whole of Sweden until 1160 - the dream of Jerusalem also came into being.
The most pious among them decided not only to name a Swedish hill or settlement in honour of the Holy City but also actually to visit this cradle of the new religion, and so embarked on the long and dangerous pilgrimage to Jerusalem.