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Archive for sweden

The Key to the Kingdom

By Linda Tancs

Sweden’s Kalmar Castle traces its origins to the 12th century. Because of its strategic location it was known as the key to the kingdom, a medieval fortress protecting against pirates and other enemies. The Vasa kings Gustav, Erik XIV and Johan III rebuilt the medieval castle into a Renaissance palace, and it remains today one of the best preserved Nordic Renaissance castles. Guided tours are offered daily.

A Match in Sweden

By Linda Tancs

The next time you strike a match, think of Jönköping, Sweden, site of the world’s only matchstick museum. This southern city was a match-producing capital beginning in the 1800s; by 1858 it was churning out 12 million matchboxes a year. The factory-turned-museum explores the history of the matchstick and introduces both the people and the machines that built the industry.

Kingdom of Crystal

By Linda Tancs

The world revolves around glass in Sweden’s southern province of Småland, so much so that the area is known as the Kingdom of Crystal. Indeed, handblown glass has been made in the region since 1742. Spread across four municipalities and 13 glassworks and studios, the kingdom welcomes over 1 million visitors a year who watch and learn the basics of glassblowing. You can even partake in glass-themed accommodation at the Kosta Boda Art Hotel.

Sweden’s First City

By Linda Tancs

Hailed as Sweden’s first city, Birka is an ancient city located on the island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren. It was an important Viking Age trading center which handled goods from Scandinavia and Finland as well as Europe and the Orient. In addition to the museum, a guided tour will take you back in time to the Vikings by strolling through the ancient fields that have been excavated. Past the museum is another interesting site: the Monument of Ansgar. Known as the Nordic apostle, Ansgar was a missionary who brought Christianity to Sweden. Boats to Birka depart from Stockholm (Stadshusbron), Hovgården, Härjarö and Mariefred.

All About ABBA

By Linda Tancs

Swedish band ABBA took the pop world by storm in the 70s and 80s, arguably one of the greatest pop bands in musical history. The pride of Stockholm in particular, a museum there is dedicated to the group’s history. ABBA The Museum not only chronicles the band’s development through displays and memorabilia but also gives visitors the chance to feel like a musical icon. You can try on ABBA’s costumes (virtually) or sing, play, mix original music and become the fifth member of ABBA by performing on a large hologram stage together with bandmates Björn, Benny, Frida and Agnetha. iPad users can also choose different instruments from the studio and listen to how they sound on a recording when all the other instruments have been removed or listen to Frida and Agnetha’s voices without the surrounding music. In some cases, you can record your personal participation and download the results to your computer with your personal ticket number.

Copacabana of Malmö

By Linda Tancs

Malmö, Sweden, boasts a coastal location, which means a beach is never far away. In fact, within easy walking distance of the city center is Ribersborg beach. Known locally as the Copacabana of Malmö, this central recreational area comprises both a beach and a greenway. The shallow water beach includes open-air bathing facilities called Kallbadhuset. The greenway sports trees, ponds and lawns with several football and rugby fields. A broad promenade runs along the edge of the beach, ideal for cyclists, rollerbladers, runners and walkers. You’ll take in spectacular views of the Öresund Sound and have your pick of fantastic restaurants and cafés.

Sightseeing With a Twist

By Linda Tancs

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, encompasses 14 islands on an extensive Baltic Sea archipelago. With a city center virtually situated on the water, traditional sightseeing on foot just won’t do. That’s where the water bus comes in. Coining it “sightseeing with a twist,” the city’s Ocean Bus offers travelers an enviable way to experience the most populous city in the Nordic countries without ever having to leave your seat. The amphibious vehicle tour starts near the Royal Opera House and, once the bus dives into the water, captures both a land and sea perspective of the city’s most notable attractions, like the Royal Palace, Vasa Museum (showcasing an almost intact salvaged ship from the 17th century) and Skansen (Sweden’s first zoo).

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