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Kalmar is one of Sweden's oldest towns, and was originally a Viking stronghold. It was a center of power for many years during the medieval period as well, and boasts one of the finest castles in Northern Europe.

In the 17th century, the warship Kronan, the largest ship in the world in her time, sank nearby, killing nearly all of the 800 crew members. The ship used gun ports, a technological innovation, and when the vessel turned sharply and heeled over, water rushed in and capsized the ship. An explosion of gunpowder didn't help. The huge treasure recovered recently from the wreck (in an ongoing salvage operation) is on display at a local museum.

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Kalmar Castle
Construction for what is now Kalmar Castle began as a defensive tower. This castle, sometimes called "the key to the kingdom" because of its strategic position, was the site of the historic Union of Kalmar in 1397, orchestrated by Queen Margaret I, unifying all of the Nordic countries under a common ruler. This union lasted until 1523.
Lilletorget, or Little Square, overlooks what was once the royal harbor, and many of the homes have historic significance. One was owned by Judge Palme, whose great-grandson Olof was the Prime Minister of Sweden. Our visit coincided with Sweden's National Day, similar to our July 4. Lilletorget hosted some of the festivities, recreating life in Kalmar during its heyday. Here, someone is forging metal items.
The big square, Stortorget, also hosted some holiday activities, such as flag ceremonies and a military band. Until recently, this 400-year-old town square had fallen into disrepair. Buildings such as the church and the seat of government, which once defined the center of power, had become nearly irrelevant and the square had degraded to being simply a parking lot. An extensive refurbishment has made the square a center of life in the city once again.
This cathedral dominating one side of Stortorget is the largest baroque church in Sweden and was built during the height of Kalmar's importance.
This water tower from 1900 was replaced in 1970. The old building has been converted into high-end apartments. The residents have discovered, though, that it's no small task to decorate a room with no straight walls.