I visualize the subject of this photograph often, because it represents one of the loveliest streets I think I’ve ever seen. Cool hues of lilac, pink and green combine with the ornate black Germanic lettering of Odalgatan’s pocked, decaying street sign. The old-fashioned style of lettering is a reminder that this medieval city of Visby, a UNESCO protected site, was also once under the control of the Hanseatic League, who were famous for a particular style of architecture.
In the States, we’d probably call this street corner an example of ‘shabby chic,’ but residents are fortunate enough to come out of their houses and see this scene each Spring. I wonder if they think about replacing this sign, or if they like it the way it is.
I found out that ‘odal’ comes from Old Norse Adal (PRIMITIVE GERMANIC * óþalan ), which means head to mean the main yard – or the best part of the yard at the family’s homestead. Odaljord was thus the main yard, or if there was just a yard, the best soil on this. ‘Gatan,’ by the way, just means ‘street.’
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