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#AdventCalendar: Is this Sweden's oddest tourist attraction?

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
#AdventCalendar: Is this Sweden's oddest tourist attraction?
The enormous Chinese-inspired hotel complex has never welcomed a guest. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman / SvD / TT

Each day of December up until Christmas Eve, The Local is sharing the story behind a surprising Swedish fact as part of our own Advent calendar.


When you think of Swedish architecture, you probably either imagine the classic red wooden cottages of Dalarna or perhaps the sleek and chic buildings of central Stockholm and Gothenburg.

But along the E4 motorway stands one of the country's most surprising tourist attractions, a huge Chinese-inspired building named Dragon Gate.

Originally a hotel, the site also had a stint as a refugee centre before it was bought by a Chinese billionaire in 2004, who had ambitions to turn it into a Chinese-Swedish business centre. Later, the plan changed so that Dragon Gate would become a cultural hotspot, with a hotel, museum, restaurant and gift shop. 

The museum hosts 200 replica terracotta soldiers, while owners have previously talked of plans to build the world's largest Buddha and even bring a live panda to the site.

Dragon Gate overlooks the E4 motorway, some 140 kilometres north of Stockholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Things haven't quite gone as hoped and the site has faced a string of problems. The companies that ran Dragon Gate went bankrupt at one stage, there have been huge fines for poor working conditions, and in 2008 an architecture magazine named the site "the worst building of the year".

For years, only the museum, restaurant and gift shop were open to the public, despite the project costing around 250 million kronor.

But in 2018 the bizarre spot changed hands again and got a new owner.

Dragon Gate's hotel finally opened, though it is only available as an event venue or for group bookings of at least 15 people.

In the owners' words: "This mysterious place has for many years intrigued people. It has made them ask themselves; what is a Chinese built venue is doing in the middle of nowhere, yet close to everything?"

"Dragon Gate is up for rent and you can pretty much turn it into whatever you want," it promises.

Each day until Christmas Eve, The Local is looking at the story behind one surprising fact about Sweden, as agreed by our readers. Find the rest of our Advent Calendar HERE and sign up below to get an email notification when there's a new article.



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