Welcome to the town where trolls apparently wear hats.
Trollhättan is a small Swedish town near Göteborg and its name literally translates to troll’s hat or troll’s bonnet. Since I was on a hunt for trolls in Scandinavia in the summer of 2019, I naturally had to stop there as well.
The town was founded at the site of huge waterfalls formed by the Göta Älv river. For centuries, the waterfalls were an obstacle for boat travel, but today they’ve been tamed with an intricate system of locks and hydropower plants. There are three locks and two hydropower plants altogether and you can take a nice circular nature trail around town to see all of them, which was obviously the highlight of Trollhättan for me as an engineer. The first lock was built in the 1800s to enable boat passage from the North sea to the inlands, while the last one was completed in 1916 when Trollhättan also received its city rights. The lock system is still in use by cargo and tourist vessels today and you can even take a boat trip through the canals and to the Canal museum to experience the locks for yourself.
The waterfalls are quite strong and during the summer months they release the water from the dams a couple of times per day, so you can watch 300.000 litres/second crash into the riverbed below (here‘s a video). With so much hydropower, it’s not surprising that Trollhättan became an industrial hub, so they also have some pretty cool tech sights: there’s the Saab car museum and the Innovatum Science Centre with one of Sweden‘s oldest hammer forges from the former NOHAB company.
Impressions of Trollhättan
On the other hand, Trollhättan is also known as Trollywood, because a major Scandinavian movie studio, Film i Väst, is located there. They have their own Walk of Fame in the centre of town, but to be honest I didn’t really know any of the actors. Another of the major attractions is also the King’s cave, a small grotto formed by a large ice age rock, which somehow became the royal guestbook. No one is entirely sure why kings and queen started signing their names there when visiting Trollhättan, but the oldest signatures date back to king Adolf Fredrik and queen Lovisa Ulrika in 1754. The spot does offer a rather nice view at the waterfalls, so perhaps it’s not surprising that so many royal personages have visited Trollhättan since then.
All in all, Trollhätan is an interesting little town with very nice cafes and it’s definitely worth visiting as a day trip from one of the nearby cities. It can be easily reached by train and since it relies mainly on hydropower, it’s a very nice example of symbiosis between nature and engineering.