Since childhood I was very fond of history, studying and researching it all my life – this is why most of the museums I spot or pick are usually one way or another linked to history. So, along with the Armoury and other museums, of the Royal Palace complex, which I wrote earlier about, one of my favorites is the Museum of the Middle Ages or Medeltidsmuseet in Swedish. To my surprise, I found out about its existence relatively recently and very accidentally, during the Night of Museums in Stockholm. It is very tricky to find this museum, just by walking around in the Old Town – it is located under the bridge between the Royal Palace and the Opera (see the map below). Funny, but this is one of the only museums in the world without an address.
Medieval Museum appeared in Stockholm pretty much by accident during archaeological investigation from 1978 to 1980 under the building of the Riksdag, which was originally aimed for the construction of underground garages, and scientists have found a part of the city wall, built during the times of famous King Gustav I Vasa (years of life 1496-1560) in the first half of the XVI century, as well as the remains of a medieval cemetery located near the “House of Charities” (house for the poor, homeless, orphans and sick people), which held the name of “House of the Holy Spirit” (Helgeandshuset). Of course, all of this was recognized as a cultural heritage and historical monuments, necessarily to be preserved. In 1986, the doors were opened to the public, and the museum welcomed its first visitors.
Probably everyone has heard about “Skansen” – a museum in the open air, where you can visit real Swedish houses of bygone days, get acquainted with the traditions, see utensils, household, clothing, taste food cooked according to old recipes, etc. The medieval museum is very close to “Skansen” in its approach but is placed under a roof. Architects have tried to embody the image of medieval Stockholm inside the museum, dividing its entire area into various subjects: children’s play area, life in the city, craft, food and more. It’s like travel in centuries, walking through the cobbled streets, enjoying the slowness of time, while an unobtrusive smell of leather and dried fish are spread all over the city, and from the windows of the houses, you can hear a quiet medieval music and the sound of its former life.
By the way, from time to time the museum hosts concerts of medieval music, where musicians play on real vintage instruments, and other events related to the Middle Ages (program in Swedish can be seen here). Of course, almost everything here is a modern construction, made looking old, but this does not detract from the value of exposures.
I truly recommend to visit the Medieval museum with children – everything can be touched, kids can climb everywhere, guides and museum employees can answer on all your questions, and in between watching the various parts of the museum, you can try a real medieval dish. Also, the museum has a separate room for children’s creativity, where experienced teachers and artists will keep your children’s attention with interesting stories from history and teach them to make some medieval craft (for example, to make a tool, a piece of tissue or a small pot).
Like in all museums, traditionally at the exit (same as entrance) is a small gift shop where you can find a big variety of books about Middle Ages, paintings and engravings, maps, quills, toys, design products, traditional soap made by old recipes, tea, sweets, postcards, jewelry and even plastic armor for children.
Address of Medieval Museum (Medeltidsmuseet):
Strömparterren 3, island Norrbro (under the bridge between the Royal Castle and the Opera House).
How to get there:
You can walk from the metro Kungsträdgården (7 min)
…or from metro Gamla Stan (10 min)
Tuesday, Thursday-Sunday 12:00-17:00
Monday – closed
Tickets: Free entrance
Audio guide: available in Swedish, simplified Swedish, English, German, French or Russian (20 SEK)
Phone: +46 8 508 316 20
Official website: http://medeltidsmuseet.stockholm.se