The city of Kattegat is a setting for the shows Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla, but is Kattegat a real place? 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, allowing viewers to keep exploring the stories of Ragnar, Lagertha, Rollo, Floki, and more. 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). Now that Vikings season 6 is completed and Vikings: Valhalla returns to the once-small city, many fans are taking a look back at Vikings and searching for answers to some of their biggest questions about it. Among those is whether the city of Kattegat is real or not because it has served as the main setting for Vikings since the start of the show. 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: Valhalla: Every Vikings Character Reference & Family Connection Explained

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

Vikings boats sea

As it turns out, Kattegat Norway does exist outside of Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla, 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.

Related: Every Valhalla Reference & Connection To Vikings Characters Explained

Did Ragnar Lothbrok Really Come From Kattegat?

Vikings Ragnar Lothbrok legend

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.

Was Kattegat Really Ruled By Jarl Haakon?

Vikings Valhalla Jarl Haakon Caroline

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.

Next: Everything We Know About Vikings: Valhalla Season 2

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