Does Vikings' Kattegat Exist? Real World Location Explained (2024)

Summary

  • The city of Kattegat in Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla is not a real city in Norway; it is actually a sea area located between Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
  • The real Kattegat in Norway is a shallow area with reefs and dangerous currents, unlike the portrayal in the shows.
  • While the character Ragnar Lothbrok is said to be from Kattegat in the series, the real Viking legend does not specify his origins, making it unclear if he even existed.

The Kattegat Norway location is central to Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla, though the truth of whether Kattegat is a real place isn't simple. Created by Michael Hirst, Vikings debuted on History Channel in 2013 and was originally planned to be a short miniseries. As Vikings season 1 was very well received, there was a change of plans, and it was renewed for season 2 and beyond. The Vikings' spinoff series Vikings: Valhalla brought audiences back to the titular location during Valhalla, season 1, episode 1 "The Greenlanders." Viewers had to have noticed the major changes that took place in Kattegat, Norway, over the 100-year gap between Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla.

After Vikings season 6 marked the end of the historical epic, the spinoff series Vikings: Valhalla hit Netflix and the characters of Valhalla return to Kattegat at the behest of King Canute (Bradley Freegard). Many viewers of both shows have wondered whether the city of Kattegat is real or not because it has served as the main setting for Vikings since the start. Kattegat Norway will continue to be an important place until Vikings: Valhalla ends — but whether Kattegat a real location or created for the show has an interesting answer.

Related

Vikings: Valhalla has different references to Vikings as well as some characters directly related to some of the protagonists of the main series.

Is Vikings' and Vikings: Valhalla's Location Kattegat Real?

There Is A Kattegat In Norway That's Nothing Like The Show

As it turns out, there is a real Kattegat in Norway, though the location is not the same as how it's presented in Vikings. In Vikings, Kattegat is a city located in Norway. In reality, Kattegat is not a city at all, though it's still located in the Scandinavian area. Kattegat is actually a sea area located between Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The area is bounded by the Jutlandic peninsula (part of Denmark and Germany) in the west, the Danish Straits islands of Denmark to the south, and the provinces of Västergötland, Scania, Halland, and Bohusländ in Sweden to the east.

What makes it quite a risky trek across its waters is the fact that Kattegat is fairly shallow, consisting of plenty of reefs and dangerous currents: a problem shown in Vikings: Valhalla during Leif Eriksson and Freydis Eriksdotter's (Frida Gustavsson) journey to Kattegat. The location of Kattegat is better represented in Vikings: Valhalla, as the small town is now a massive trading port that's ruled over by Jarl Haakon. Approximately 12,000 square miles, Kattegat, Norway has major ports surrounding it, among those Gothenburg, Aarhus, Aalborg, Halmstad, and Frederikshavn.

Because of its watery location, Vikings’ version of Kattegat was filmed in Lough Tay, County Wicklow, Ireland, which gives the appearance the production was looking for. Although Vikings takes many elements of Norse myths and history, it’s not completely accurate, changing many things to better fit the story it wants to tell. But it also takes inspiration from real-life places, such as Kattegat, which is a central place to both Vikings and the real-life Scandinavian area in general. Vikings: Valhalla uses the same filming location as Vikings for Kattegat, despite the incredible changes that have taken place to the port.

Given the importance of the city not only in Ragnar and Lagertha’s story but in Vikings in general, it has a special place in the hearts of Vikings fans even after the series has ended. Vikings: Valhalla, which is set 100 years following the events of Vikings returns to a very different version of Kattegat Norway, and Kattegat remains a crucial location to the shared universe and its history. While Vikings showed Kattegat's humble beginnings, Vikings: Valhalla showcases the expansive trading port that Kattegat one day will become.

Did Ragnar Lothbrok Really Come From Kattegat?

The Real Ragnar Lothbrok's Origins Still Aren't Known

Does Vikings' Kattegat Exist? Real World Location Explained (2)

Vikings character Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) is said to be from Kattegat and Norway in the series, but the real Viking legend isn't known to hail from there — although there's equally nothing to say he didn't, either. Since Vikings did not technically record any of their travels, it's questionable that Ragnar Lothbrok even existed. While his name does appear in some accounts, sources like The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok see the figure doing fantastical things like slaying a dragon.

What's more likely is that the legend of Ragnar Lothbrok is a conglomeration of different real historical figures such as King Horik I of Denmark, King Reginfrid​​​​​​​, and Viking leader Reginherus, who was mainly known for the siege of Paris in 845 AD. Therefore, the histories don't really explain where Ragnar Lothbrok came from, nor whether the Vikings character was a real person. Unfortunately, Vikings: Valhalla faces some of the same obstacles with its characters, but at least the trials of Leif Eriksson are better recorded.

Related

Vikings True Story: How The Real Ragnar Lothbrok Died

Vikings has done its best to be as historically accurate as possible – so, how accurate was Ragnar's death? Here's how the real Ragnar died.

Was Kattegat Really Ruled By Jarl Haakon?

Kattegat's Ruler In Valhalla Was Mostly Fictional

Does Vikings' Kattegat Exist? Real World Location Explained (4)

Jarl Haakon (Caroline Henderson) is introduced as the leader of Kattegat Norway during Vikings: Valhalla season 1, and is the first Black ruler within the confines of the Vikings universe, but did she actually rule Kattegat? Unfortunately, there is no historical evidence of a female Viking ruler. Despite this, women in Viking culture were given much more regard than other cultures of the time.

In Valhalla, Haakon was given rule over Kattegat after her husband was killed by Christians for refusing to give up his pagan beliefs. In Viking culture, women were often allowed to be head of the household if their husbands faced certain death. Jarl Haakon is technically a creation for Vikings: Valhalla, but the Kattegat ruler probably got her name from Haakon Sigurdsson, who ruled Norway in the late 10th Century, meaning a Haakon would technically hold charge over Kattegat. While many characters in the Vikings universe aren't technically based in real history, the city of Kattegat remains an exception.

Does Vikings' Kattegat Exist? Real World Location Explained (5)
Vikings

History

Drama

Action

Vikings is a historical drama series created for the History Channel by Michael Hirst. Based on stories passed down in Norse lore, the series focuses on the Lodbrok family and their lives during medieval Scandinavia. The family is formally established by the rise of Ragnar Lodbrok, a farmer turned Viking who rises to power as a Scandinavian King.

Release Date
March 3, 2013

Cast
Travis Fimmel , Katheryn Winnick , Gustaf Skarsgård , Jessalyn Gilsig , Clive Standen , George Blagden

Seasons
6

Franchise
Vikings

Story By
Michael Hirst
Network
Amazon Prime Video , History Channel
Streaming Service(s)
Amazon Prime Video , Hulu
  • Vikings (2013)
  • Vikings: Valhalla (2022)

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Does Vikings' Kattegat Exist? Real World Location Explained (2024)
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