Stockholm: Skansen

Skansen is a large (approximately 75 acre) open air museum and zoo located on the island of Djurgården (as is the Vasa Museum). During our half-day visit, we did not expect to see it all, but we were able to walk around most of it.  Skansen has buildings, exhibits, and activities that show what Swedish life was like in different parts of the country at various points in the past.  Actual buildings from the times and places represented have been transported and kept in their historic state.  The countryside areas include farmsteads, cottages, animal shelters, a manor, a flax mill, a fulling mill, a chipping house, a bakehouse, a blacksmith’s workshop, village halls, a church, and a school.  In addition, there is a Finn settlement and a Sami camp in the countryside area.

The photo left shows a traditional stone barn with thatched roof. Such buildings were used to shelter animals during harsh winter weather.  Many of the cottages and farmhouses we saw in the countryside area  also had thatch or turf roofs.  If you’re interested in learning more about the construction of traditional Swedish farmhouses, you should check out a webpage on The History of Swedish X-joint Log Houses by Hans Högman.

The photos above show the interior of a countryside cottage.  As you enter, you are in a room used for cooking and laundry.   This room contains a small table, used for food preparation, and a large laundry cauldron that is heated from below by a wood file.  Behind the laundry cauldron is a large, wood-fired oven.  The middle room, a bit of which can be glimpsed through the first doorway, functioned as a sitting room and bedroom.  Through the next doorway is a workroom with a floor loom.

The town area is reconstruction of a Swedish town from mid-19th century, again with original buildings, most of which are occupied by working craftsmen or guides in historic costume and role.  To the right and below are photos from an historic bakery, where bread and rolls fresh from the oven were available for sampling.  Within the town area, we also saw work underway in the pottery, glassworks, and furniture factory.  In addition we visited the engineer works, the goldsmith’s shop, the ironmonger’s house, the tinsmith’s workshop, the herb garden (where tobacco was being dried), and the general store.

Stockholm: Vasa Museum

Located on the island of Djurgården, this museum was built to display the Vasa, a Swedish warship that sunk in 1628 and was then recovered in 1961.  In addition to being the only ship of its era still in existence, the fascinating stories of its sinking and recovery make the Vasa a unique attraction.  The architecture of the museum and it’s well-designed exhibits further enhance the experience. 

The museum is built around the recovered ship, which was too large for me to take in with a photograph.  The action of water and time have aged the timbers and worn away the paint which once decorated this ship.  Much of the rigging has been reconstructed, but not the sails. The photo above shows a small model of the Vasa reconstructed with sails intact and painted as it might have looked on the fatal day of its launch and sinking.  There are exhibits explaining the research that went into determining the composition and coloring of the paint originally used on the Vasa, as well as descriptions of the materials and construction techniques used for shipbuilding and sailmaking during the period.

If you want to learn more about the Vasa and its stories, I encourage you to visit the Vasa Museet website.

Stockholm: Gamla Stan

The city of Stockholm began as a settlement on the central island of Stadsholmen.  The area comprising this island and several smaller adjacent islands is now known as Gamla Stan.  Walking along the cobbled streets of the “old town,” with their interesting shops and restaurants, was one of the highlights of our trip.  We also enjoyed visiting the Royal Palace (Kungliga slottet), which houses several museums, and the historic church Storkyrkan.

The photo above left shows a side entrance to the Royal Palace.  The photo above right is of a side chapel in Storykyrkan featuring Ljusgloben (Light Globe) by Torolf Engström and a stained glass window that is modern in comparison with the others found in the church.