Founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius, Skansen was created as a result of Hazelius’ idea to create a miniature living Sweden. Today, the museum occupies 75 acres on island of Djurgården. Hazelius’ goal was to showcase complete environments, that is, historically accurate buildings, period costumes and natural landscapes including animals, from across the country in order to allow visitors to experience living history. The museum is created from both recreations of historic structures and farmsteads as well as functioning workshops. The Town Quarter is designed to re-create a Swedish town in the 1800’s through aspects of daily life such as the grocery store, bakery, Ironmonger’s house, post office, pottery workshop, the printer’s house and family homes. To experience how life was lived in the countryside, head northeast of the Town Quarter to the Mora Farmstead, which features a cottage from the village of Östnor that has been at the museum since its opening in the 1800’s. It is also where visitors can find the House of Pagans, which has been dated back to the 1300’s, making it one of the oldest houses at Skansen. Nearby the Mora Farmstead, close to the Midsummer maypole, there are two traditionally painted orange Dala Horses, one large and a smaller one for the kids that make for a great photo opportunity.
Two of the museum’s most popular attractions are the Zoo in the northern area of the park, where Nordic animals including the brown bear, lynx, wild boar, European bison and wolverines among many others are kept and the Glassworks studio, located in the Town Quarter, which features a viewing balcony from which visitors can watch see skilled glassblowers use traditional tools to create a myriad of objects from molten glass pulled straight from the ovens.
The property also houses several “museums within the museum” including the Museum of Tobacco and Matches and the Skansen Aquarium.
The aquarium’s largest draw seemed to be the “living” Amazon rainforest, which is the first feature you come upon once inside. Being the most appealing feature of the aquarium and likely due to its close proximity to the entrance, you’ll first have to navigate past visitors crowding the narrow and dark stairway that leads into to the exhibit before actually entering the rainforest area. While maneuvering along a confined and wet pathway through the hot and muggy rainforest, all while enduring the effects of a simulated thunderstorm, you will have the opportunity to view stingrays and piranhas before ending your trek via a suspended wood bridge that leads you back into the main area of the aquarium. Once out of the rainforest, various sea life ranging from sharks to sea horses can be seen swimming in tanks located along the walls and even in open, shallow pools of water in the floor, so watch your step (and your kids), especially since the aquarium seems to be the biggest attraction for younger visitors.
Falkenbergsgatan 2, Djurgården
A popular and widely available Swedish pastry, the chokladbollar (traditionally, the negerbollar, a name more or less abandoned in contemporary society) is made from oatmeal, sugar, coffee, cocoa, and butter, which is formed into a ball and then rolled in either shredded coconut or thick sugar sprinkles. The consistency and sweetness is a lot like fudge but the addictive quality seems to be much, much higher. They are available in candy shops and any of the many 7-Eleven’s located throughout Stockholm.
Widforss Jakt & Natur has been dealing in hunting accoutrement since 1729. The shop is unquestionably unique amid the other retailers in central Stockholm. Taxidermy mounts, showcasing the successful hunts of the store’s own staff are intermixed with the merchandise. Widforss specializes in traditional hunting clothing and accessories for men and women, which can be found on the ground floor, while the lower floor holds a large variety of hunting accessories, including knives and hunting rifles. Even if you are not ready to head out with a hunting party, it is definitely worth popping in to chat with the staff about the hunting tradition in Sweden.
Fredsgatan 5, Stockholm
Stockholm’s underground transit system, known as the Tunnelbana, is commonly referred to as “the world’s longest art exhibition.” The system opened in the 1950’s with a public art initiative kicking off in 1957. As a result, today, ninety of the system’s one hundred stations feature artwork produced from over 150 artists. With each passing decade, a new approach to improving the Tunnelbana’s art emerged. The 1950’s saw the development of the green line, which featured tiled wall displays. The red line was developed in the 1960’s when the tunnel design shifted from square, bathroom tiles to rectangular, earth-toned tiles. During the 1970’s a shift in design led to the application of sprayed concrete to give the illusion of a cave. The 1980’s gave rise to the development of “trumpet” stations, which featured only one entrance with a shape that goes from wide to narrow. The 1990’s and the present decade have largely been dedicated to revamping the current stations, adding tiling and design to ticket areas and stairways as well as adding sculptures throughout the stations.