Recently I visited the #1 tourist attraction in Stockholm for the very first time, which is the Vasa museum. Vasa was a great Swedish warship from the 1600s, designed to protect Sweden from their enemies and to portray a sense of wealth and power in Sweden.
Coming from a fairly young country like Canada, it always amazes me to learn about Swedish history that dates well back before Canada even existed. I’m not typically a museum person but the Vasa museum is much more than that. Not only do you learn about the culture of Sweden at the time, but you also get to see up close and personal the world’s only preserved ship from the 17th century. If you’re visiting Stockholm, this is a must for your sightseeing list.
What makes this Swedish warship so famous, you might ask? Well, after the millions of Swedish crowns spent creating such a mighty ship, it only took about 20 minutes (and a huge gust of wind, I might add) before the ship began to sink in the Stockholm harbour. After 333 years resting on the sea bed, the ship was finally salvaged and carefully preserved in what is now the Vasa museum.
When you enter the museum, the ship is quite breathtaking. It’s still very much in tact, made up of 98% original materials. We first watched a 15 minute film in the museum’s theatre. This provided a brief history of the ship, including how it was built and how it was later salvaged and preserved. Afterwards, we did a 20 minute walking tour around the ship with a knowledgable guide. Here, we were given greater insight as to why the ship was designed the way it was, the lifestyle and culture of the Swedes at the time, and how they believe it sank.
When taking a closer look at the design of the ship, the intricate details are just incredible. There are carvings of Roman emperors, lions, crowns, soldiers, and many other Swedish figures, all symbolizing the wealth and power of Sweden at the time. The Vasa was designed to be the flagship of the Swedish navy and once completed, it would be one of the world’s most powerfully armed vessels. With the tallest point reaching 172 ft, and with 72 cannons on board, you can see how the Vasa would be pretty intimidating.
Overall, I would highly recommend paying a visit to the Vasa museum if you’re touring around Stockholm. There’s a reason why it’s Scandinavia’s most-visited museum – and after you see Vasa, you’ll understand why. You can find the Vasa museum in Djurgården, an island close to the city centre. While you’re there, you can also stop by the Abba museum, the Spirit museum or Gröna Lund, the city’s amusement park. They’re all located within steps of the Vasa museum.
For more information, visit Vasa museum’s website at http://www.vasamuseet.se/en