One of the experiences in my recent Scandinavia trip that truly amazed me was being in the presence of the mighty 17th century Vasa ship in Stockholm, Sweden. Though the Vasa Ship falls in the historical category and is varied from my usual nature-based blog articles, nature’s influence on the ship’s preservation and the interesting history attached to it, warrants this to be a special exception.
Sweden was our second country of the visit in our Scandinavia trip after Norway, and we were planning to spend a good two days in the city of Stockholm.
A beautiful set of fourteen islands, the city of Stockholm exudes a sense of history and culture as you stroll along the narrow cobbled pathways. While you visit, make use of the public transport system as it’s quite convenient, with boats and buses making it easy to island hop within the city.
Our travel tradition usually entails that we note down a list of places of interest to the whole travel group, and the popular Vasa Museum was at the top of our list for Stockholm.
The Vasa Museum
It was a bright sunny morning when we caught a ferry to the island of Djurgarden, and made a 10-minute walk to the eye-catching Vasa museum- a building replication of the ship it housed inside, complete with tall standing sails.
Inside the museum, the mighty Vasa ship stood at the center, pulling all eyes towards it and photos do not really compare to the reality. Standing there, I was awe-struck by the actual size of the structure and intricacies of craftsmanship on the ship’s exterior.
A lovely young lady accompanied us for a tour of the museum and her passion for Swedish history and slight nudges of humor during the tour, kept the visitors engrossed through the tour of the different levels of the ship.
The Vasa ship is the only almost completely preserved seventeenth-century ship in the world. As explained by the guide, the 69 meters long and 50-meter high war ship was a product of the then ruling King’s vision and was built to instill fear and portray power in the region. However, all did not go to plan and due to defects in design and imbalance of weight, the massive ship sinks a few minutes into its maiden voyage in 1628, as residents watched in shock from the shore.
Years of efforts were taken to salvage the ship that was sunk to the bottom of the sea and firmly buried on the sea bed. Finally in 1961, after 333 years of being submerged in the sea, the Vasa is pulled up to the surface in a surprisingly preserved condition. The preservation was denounced and suspected to be due to the position of the sheltered harbor and oxygen free, high salinity water that eliminated the presence of microbes and ship-worm. So, the perfect conditions of the ocean provided a suitable canopy to protect the beautiful war ship from erosion.
Post the salvage, the weapons, and articles used in the ship, the bodies of the dead and their possessions all helped to provide a reliable insight into life in the 1600s in Sweden. The museum is a vast reflection of what remained on board the ship. With commendable efforts taken by the country to preserve the wood from external conditions such as humidity, 98% of the original structure still remains as was in 1628, making the Vasa a unique historical monument.
The visit was truly intriguing and highly recommended, if you travel to Sweden. Some other places to visit while in the city include The Royal Palace, City Hall, Strandvagen street and Skansen museum.
Visit Vasa – https://www.vasamuseet.se/en