Sunday, November 26, 2017

A day of Vikings

As you know I have already seen Viking ships but not more historical aspects of the Viking culture so I took a tour. The first stops along the way were to see runestones and a council meeting space. Vikings were actually a pretty developed society that engaged in commerce all over the world. They spoke several languages and would travel to Constantinople to trade with all over the world. While some of their acts were savage, they were more advanced than most shows and movies make them out to be.

Runestones are basically stories about men who were Viking warriors and/or died while travelling. They can be found all over Scandinavia but Sweden as by far the most - somewhere between 1,700 and 2,500. There was one in even in the city centre but for this tour, they were all in the outskirts and countryside.

These ones were all around the suburb of Stockholm known as Täby which is also where we saw a traditional looking farm.

As mentioned, we also saw a Viking council area - based on the layout of the rocks in the area, they believe it was where decisions were taken by those that governed at that time. You can see them in behind the runestone. The site was beside a lake which in Sweden, are all public. People have the right to camp on other's property because certain distances from the water belong to everyone.

Then it was off to the countryside around Hökeriet to see another old Viking establishment with a giant runestone!

Some of the runestones are found now where churches stand, in some cases they are even embedded in the structure. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the church or where it was (again, a failing of not keeping this up to date!)

The last part of the tour was fittingly Viking burial grounds which are huge hills. Vikings were often buried with their possessions which sometimes included their ships which is why some of the mounds are so large. This site was also beside a church which had - yes - a runestone but also this super cool trunk that had a bunch of locks so that treasure was harder to steal. Those Vikings knew what they were doing!

Drottningholm Palace - the Royal Garden

I didn't mention it in the previous post but Drottningholm and its gardens are a UNESCO site. Ok, now on to the gardens. The palace gardens are immense - they include a Chinese pavilion, English and Baroque gardens.You can get sense of the size of the gardens from this picture. . .

While October is not the best time of year to visit gardens, they were still impressive to see!

On they way to the Chinese pavilion there is a tent for the royal guards.

The first pavilion was finished in time for Queen Lovisa Ulrika's birthday on 24 July 1753. The pavilion was a surprise gift to the Queen from King Adolf Frederick. 

Actually, the pictures you are seeing are not the original building. It was built so quickly it ended up falling apart in the Swedish climate and the second building was completed in 1769 and has stood the test of time.

I continued to wander through the rest of the gardens until I made it back to the beginning!

A boat ride to Drottningholm Palace

Drottningholm Palace, Queen's islet in English, is the private residence of the Swedish royal family on the island Lovön. It was originally built in the late 16th century. The boat launches from the centre of the city.

There were great views of the city, including Södermalm, as we headed towards the more suburban areas of the city.

And finally - we arrive!

There is a portion of the house that I visited but I have to say, I think the entrance/staircase was the best part!

The palace served as a hunting and summer one over the years. In the 19th century it was abandoned over 50 years. It has now served as the primary residence of the royal family since 1981. Here are some of the highlights of the rooms.

This getting a bit long so I will do a separate post for the gardens!