|Arrive: 08/15/12 8:00 AM||Depart: 08/15/12 5:00 PM|
Today a thriving holiday resort, Visby on the Baltic island of Gotland has become famous as 'the town of roses and ruins' - a living relic of a medieval heyday when this Hanseatic port vied in riches and fame with the great capitals of mainland Europe. Now its narrow cobbled streets and ruined churches reside behind the two-and-a-half mile 13th century city wall, a haunting monument to a lost glory. Gotland and Oland are part of the Baltic islands off the southeast coast of Sweden. Gotland is a blend of old and new with its natural beauty and cultural heritage. Hoards of coins and other treasures found on the island indicate its importance in maritime trade as far back as the Bronze Age. Gotland was nominally Swedish as early as the 9th century but long remained autonomous. In the Middle Ages Visby was a rich and important member of the Hanseatic League and had many splendid churches and elaborate fortified walls. Gotland was conquered by Denmark in 1361 and returned to Swedish rule in 1645.