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The Splendour of Stockholm

semi-overcast 12 °C

The grandeur of Stockholm is inescapable as we gaze across the cityscape from the deck of our ship ā€“ the Rygerfjord. However, the view won't change much over the next few days because we are not going anywhere. We are staying aboard one of the hotel ships permanently docked in Stockholm harbour. These smaller, older, Baltic cruisers have been converted to provide comfortable accommodation in the very heart of the city and everyone has a great sea view...
Stockholm sprawls over fourteen islands and has masses of scenic waterfronts lined with historic buildings including the parliament and the somewhat austere royal palace that was rebuilt starting in 1697 following a major fire. However, the interior of the palace is anything but austere...
The palace has nearly 1,500 rooms and many of the state rooms and royal apartments are as sumptuously decorated and furnished as those at Versailles. The Great Hall was modelled on the Hall of Mirrors in Louis XIV's flambouyant palace and can comfortably seat 170 for dinner...
The Swedes have long been peace-loving people to a fault, (it is even an offence to shout at your own child in Sweden). However, that has not always been the case. The Kingdom of Sweden was a great regional power between 1600 and 1800; ruling Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and even parts of Russia, Norway and Northern Germany. In order to keep control of such a large domain the Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus, needed a powerful navy and in 1628 his battleship, the Vasa, was launched in Stockholm. This is a model...
The Vasa was magnificent; the biggest and best armed ship ever built in its day. It took the timber from a thousand mature oaks and its decks were lined with 64 heavy bronze canons. It would have been a formidable foe for any enemy. But, how do we know this? Because, on August 10th 1628, decked out in bunting with thousands of onlookers and dignitaries cheering from the Stockholm quayside, the massive 1200 ton Vasa set sail on her maiden voyage. She sailed exactly 1,300 yards before she turned turtle and sank. In one of the most complex salvage operations ever undertaken, the almost intact wreck was raised from the seabed in 1961. It was so robustly constructed that when it was pumped clear of mud and water after more than 300 years of submersion it floated without assistance. Now fully restored, the Vasa is an awe-inspiring sight, (although difficult to portray in photos because of the enormous size)....
Here's a view of the main deck from above...
The wood was almost perfectly preserved in the mud and some of the rigging and sails survived underwater, as did the carpenter's chest complete with all his tools. Unfortunately the carpenter, along with just twenty nine others, died when the ship sank. An enquiry found that the ship was top-heavy due to the king wanting double the number of guns ever put on a ship before, so no one was punished for the disaster.

Stockholm has a wealth of history and interesting architecture, but we couldn't leave without visiting the museum dedicated to Sweden's best known export ā€“ Abba.. Who knew that Sheila was one of the founding members?...
Another well known export is the open sandwich, smorgesbrod, so we had to try some - delicious!...
Our few days in Stockholm are coming to end. Next stop the southwestern city of Gothenburg where we hope to meet up with a very grand old lady of the sea.

Posted by Hawkson 11:03 Archived in Sweden

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Loved reading about The Vasa, how interesting!

by Pippa Flack

So glad heads did not roll, drowning not a better ending. Beautiful ship and loved the history. The food looked sumptuous as well.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Ah, the foolishness of Kings. Now where are some modern examples of that?
Great bit of engineering to raise a wooden vessel of that size.
Nice "light" lunch but looking forward to pictures of full Swedish dinner.

by R and B

What a wonderful city. The photo of Sheila looks like she is posed in front of a diorama of a group in a park in the 1960/70sā€™ (no iPad, still print even). She still fits right in!

by Tom

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