Ratan – Idyllic village by the sea

Address: Ratan, 91597 Bygdeå Show map

Address: Ratan, 91597 Bygdeå

Ratan is a multidimensional village. It offers beautiful countryside with short walking trails and interesting heritage. It also has a natural, deep harbour that made the village an important trading hub in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Ratan is a small, historic, coastal village of around 50 residents. Its history lives on today in a rural idyll of tranquillity. The village had one of the best harbours between Stockholm and Torneå. Centred on this harbour, an unusual village, a “mini-city”, developed. Ratan’s history is one of the former importance of harbours when all transport was by sea.

The glory days of Ratan as a harbour were in the 18th century. Vessels left here with goods destined for other parts of Sweden and then onwards to the rest of the world. Harbour, piloting and customs operations were carried out here into the 20th century. Many reminders of the maritime epoch remain. As a marker and pilot’s vantage point, a mighty beacon was built on Rataskär in 1820. Rataskär’s lighthouse was constructed in 1889.

Ratan also has reminders of the 18th century interest in the falling water levels of our seas. To measure the apparent “reduction” (actually a phenomenon of isostatic recovery), water level marks were carved into the steep coastal rocks. In the 1890s, to improve the recording of water levels, a tide gauge was set up. This can still be seen in the harbour area.

Another harbour feature is the old sea huts where Hantverk i Ratan has its summer shop. The harbour is a guest harbour. It has a “quick stop” facility for motorhomes and a services block for guests.

Ratan is also the site of the last battle on Swedish soil. This was in 1809, during the Finnish war of 1808 – 1809. Defences, war graves and bullet holes in buildings remain as reminders of the battle. The battle was between Russia and Sweden. On the 19th of August 2009, during the centenary commemoration of the war, Her Majesty the Queen of Sweden dedicated the “tactile map” in Ratan.

Kulturum Ratan (Ratan cultural information centre) is located on the upper floor of Tullgården, a house built in 1861 as the offices and residence of the customs officer. It is now home to, amongst other things, an exhibition. This gives details of land upheaval, the harbour epoch and the 1809 battle. Tullgården also has a restaurant and a café. Open daily throughout the summer.

Outside the harbour, there is the island of Rataskär. This offers more ancient and cultural remains such as mazes, compass roses, net drying stands and the stone circles of dwelling foundations. These stone circles are the remains of 17th century huts used by fishers and seal hunters for overnight stays. The older of the two mazes dates from the end of the 16th century. Rocks and pebbles make up the island’s beach area. The highest point is 21 metres above sea level. Rataskär otherwise comprises rocky soil with spruce, pine and juniper as its trees. The island can only be reached by boat (can be hired in Ratan).

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