Karlskrona and the Southern Coast of Sweden
Swept Away HR46 at anchor Second Wind at anchor Northern Exposure at anchor

On the south coast of Sweden

Our itinerary for the season took us around the bottom of Sweden. Then we head up the coast to Stockholm, and then east to Finland and Saint Petersburg.

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Ystad was settled by fishing families in the 12th century. The Saint Maria church shown here dates from the 13th century and stands adjacent to what is probably the oldest schoolhouse in Scandinavia. A night watchman -- a real person -- still sounds the horn every fifteen minutes between 9:15pm and 1:00am, a tradition that began in the 17th century. The purpose of the horn is to signify that "all is well". That's especially true for the watchman; it's said that in times past, the watchman who fell asleep and didn't sound the horn was beheaded.
We visited the sleepy island of Hanö (only 35 people live there year-round.) Hanö boasts the brightest lighthouse in the Baltic. There's a legend for that. A dragon used to fly to Hanö every night. Then the townspeople built the lighthouse. It was so bright that it blinded the dragon, who fell to the ground, making a mark on the rock that is still visible, and is still called the dragon-mark.
Karlskrona main square
Karlskrona was designated as a World Heritage site for its well-preserved 17th- and 18th-century architecture. Sweden was a major European power at the end of the 17th century and needed a navy base to control the Baltic Sea, so Karlskrona became the base for Sweden's formidable navy. It still is, and until recently, pleasure boats couldn't even visit the harbor. The Great Square at the center of town (and the highest point of the island) was designed to compare with the finest squares in France and Italy.
Blekinge Museum
The Blekinge Museum tells the story of the region. It includes displays of everyday activities common to the area: boatbuilding, ropemaking, even cutting of cobblestones. Museums in Scandinavia creatively merge the old with the new, adding modern art to the walls of old castles, for example. Note here how this museum merged the ancient with the new. This display of ancient jewelry is coupled with a Mercedes hood ornament (dated 20th century) to signify that showing off our wealth is always part of our culture. In the display case depicting tools, along with the ax heads and sharpened rocks, there was a Swiss army knife.
Old Town
The old town consists of narrow streets lined with wooden houses, many dating from the founding of the navy base.
Maritime Museum model room
A large maritime museum contains room after room of Swedish naval history. In this room are dozens of ship's models. Naval architecture in the days of the wooden ship involved building a model or a half-model of the proposed vessel first. These models were, understandably, highly-protected trade secrets, either by the sponsoring military, or by the architect himself. The architect often kept the designs a secret even from his government, in order to assure that his sons could make a living continuing his work.
Boat builder
This shed in Karlskrona houses the work of boat building in the traditional manner. These wooden boats have an unusual rig that resembles a gaff or lanteen rig, and the wood is overlaid along the hull in a pattern called clinker building. This technique was developed in Northern Europe and was used by many boat builders in history, including the Vikings.
Admiralty Church and Rosenbom
With all those seamen running around the new town of Karlskrona, the local authorities became concerned that heavy doses of religion were required. They built several churches in town, including this one, the Admiralty Church near the navy base. It's made entirely of wood and can seat 4,000 people. The legend of Rosenbom, the statue out front, is that Rosenbom was having trouble supporting his family, possibly because of an affection for drink. The church elders allowed him to beg for help outside the church, and on a cold holiday (maybe Christmas Eve or New Year's), he stood with his hand outstretched, awaiting alms. In the morning, he was found right there, with his hat pulled over his head and his arm outstretched, frozen to death.