Stockholm: Skansen

It’s been a few weeks since I have been able to post again on this blog. After last semester of uni I have been quite burned out haven’t had the motivation to keep up with my usually hobbies. This post took me a longer then usually as I have had plenty of trouble with the new editor. Anyone else had issues? Hopefully the bugs will be fixed or I will just get use to it.

Anyway, today I continue our adventure to Skansen, which we visited on our first day in Stockholm, Sweden. We probably were there for about 4 hours, but we could have easily spent a couple of more hours. I was probably my favourite open-air museum on this entire trip. There was just so much to do and see and its is the perfect destination for families and couples alike.

Skansen is an open air museum, which is thought to be the first one of its kind, founded in 1891. It presents five centuries  of Swedish history in a fun and interactive way. The museum contains over 150 historical buildings and dwellings and many contain towns people, dressed of the period. Within the Skansen you can also find shops, many cafes and restaurants, the Children’s Zoo and playground, gardens and Skansen Zoo, which houses both domestic and wild Nordic animals. If you luck enough to visit during the holiday season you can enjoy special traditional celebrations, food and much more.

As you can see by the map below, Skansen is just massive, but its quite easy to get around. If you have little ones you definitely need a stroller. Unlike other musuems, there was very little cobbled streets, so we didn’t struggle pushing the stroller. From the ferry stop it is only a 5 minute walk and their are other attractions and museums nearby to do after if you have time in the afternoon. See my previous post for more information on the Island.

Skansen map


When we first arrived at Skansen it didn’t take long to get through the ticketing. From there we took a left up to the escalator up to the Town Quarter/Stadskvarteren. You can see on the map these buildings are all numbered, as they contain towns people and shops.


Town Quarter

So our first stop in the Town Quarter was the Stockholm Glassworks/Glashyttan (3). This was build at Skansen in 1936 for public demonstrations of traditional glass-blowing. It is modelled as a 19th century small glassworks. The higher end of the building contains a shop with many beautiful glass items to buy and the lower end is the workshop. Glass has been made in Sweden since the 16th century and the same technique has  been used for the last 2000 years. In the workshop you can see professional glass workers using the same techniques to create glass objects.


Next door we came upon the Furniture Factory/Snickerifabriken (4 ). This building is from Virserum, Småland and resembles a small furniture factory from the 1920s. Småland was the centre for furniture manufacturing in the early 20th century. The typically wood they used was oak, birch, and elm. New machinery made it possible to mass produce furniture, which was then sold by mail order. Inside this factory was a man who works her building typically items that would have been made during this period.

Across the courtyard is the Engineering Works/Mekaniska verkstaden (5). This building is resembles a typically engineering workshop and office from the 1920s. The engineering industry was well established by the 1870s in Sweden, as new iron-making technologies, steam and later electricity became available. The worker in this building explained to me that just about anything was possible to make with these machines and he showed me some samples of shapes that can be manufactures with these machines.


Further down the road we came upon the Ironmonger’s house/Järnhandlarens hus (14). This is a typically 19th century small-town wooden home, which was built in Skansen. It has two holds two shops and a modest apartment. We didn’t get a chance to speak with the vendor but we did find the little store interesting. I’m not sure if the apartment was viewable, since we didn’t see a door leading to another room.


These are a few buildings that we saw from the exteriors. Unfortunately they weren’t all open for the day. The Charle’s Tottie Residence/Tottieska (16) was owned by a welathy Scot, who became one of Sweden’s wealthiest merchants. It was built on Stockholm’s southern island during the 1770s and has some expensive panelling in the interior from the West Indies and Cuba. You can actually have a virtual Tour.

The House from Bondegatan/Huset från Bondegatan (13) is from the Södermalm district in Stockholm, which is where our accomodation is. It dates ffrom early 18th century, but it wasnt until the 19th century that it was weather-boarded and painted red. This house contained three city craftsmen, the bookbinder, the engraver and the saddler, as well as an old shop and workman’s home. The Old Shop/Kryddboden is a example of a small ‘spice shop’ which were the forerunner for modern day grocery stores. They sold non-perishable goods like coffee, flour, spices, sweets, paint, tobacco, wool, buttons and china. The Workman’s Home/Arbetarbostaden is an example of a working-class familiy home from the end of the 19th century. Typically they lived in one room, which held around 10 or more people. They would eat and sleep together and often they would take lodgers for additional income. The tiled stove was used for cooking and heating and the sowing machine was often used by the wives to help generate additional income.

Nearby, the Tannery/Garveriet (10) is from Vimmerby in Småland, was home to three day labourers. They would treat animal skins to make leathers and hides. The Goldsmith’s Workshop/Guldsmedshuset (15) is from Stockholm in early 18th century. It was  goldsmithing and silversmithing workshops of Master Goldsmith Gustaf Möllenborg. He is known for being the first goldsmith to use machinery.

The last building in the Town Quarter that we visited was the Little Cafe/Petissan (17). This was a popular cafe for students at the end of the 19th century. Inside it has the most delicious looking sweet treats. If only we hadn’t just had breakfast, we could have ordered one of everything.

Swedenborg’s Pavilion

Just north of the Town Quarter was the Swedenborg’s Pavilion. It was here that we came across the beautiful Rose Garden. As we entered we came across the Swedenborg’s Summerhouse/Swedenborg’s lusthus, which was built in 1740’s for the famous scientist/author/thinker, Emanuel Swedenborg. It was originally located in his garden at Hornsgatan in Södermalm. It is such a tiny little home, that I’m not sure how it can be called a house, it seems more like a man cave or she shed. In the garden there was a sculpture of another Swedish scientist, Carolus Linnaeus/ Carl von Linné (1701-1778). This is a replica of a wooden carving by Arne Bergh, which was originally presented for the Swedish pavilion in 1992 for the World Expo in Seville Spain. At the end of the Rose Garden is the Sagaliden building. This is a summerhouse, which was built by the merchant John Burgman in the 1810s. It has a great view of Stockholm and for many years it operated as a restaurant. In 1927 it was converted into the residents for Skansen’s Managing Director has also has reception rooms and offices. For this reason you can not visit inside. However you can get a great view from the King’s Oscar’s Terrace beside the building.


Nearby, the Red Row/Röda längan, is one of the buildings which predates the open-air museum. It was also built by John Burgman in the 1810s, as living quarters for his servants and gardeners. When the museum was first opened in 1891, it operated as lodgings for the Dalecarlian girls, who worked in the museum buildings and today is used as offices. Adjuacent to the Red Row is The Lodge/Vaktstugan and Herb Garden. The Lodge was built in 1880s to house the caretakers and gardeners for Skansen. But it wasn’t until 1891 that Artur Hazelius purchased the land to open the museum. Across the road is the Pear Park/Lekplats Päronparken, where children can play and parents can have a little break. Just near it I found this rune stone, Lingastene,  from Södermanland. The inscription on it reads “Helgulv erected this stone in memory of Torfast his brother in the law, Disa in memory of his brother.” This is just one of over 2,500 rune stone in Sweden, erected by the Vikings. Most date from the 11th century and towards the end of the Viking period. They were used as memorials for close relatives, who had died in foreign lands or make imporant events. I did come across a few more of these Runestones as I travelled across Skansen.

The Älvros Farmstead

The Älvros Farmstead/Älvrosgården was to up to the right of the Rose Garden. It was probably the largest homestead we would visit today. It is an example of an early 19th century from north Sweden and the building are taken from various farms in Härjedalen. These forest districts area relied heavily on livestock, as well as foresty, hunting, fishing and trade. This farm consists of twelve buidlings, which are made of hewn logs roofed with birch bark and wood. The oldest building is the storehouse from 1470s. The most valuable property was kept in the storehouses, which are a distance from fire risk of the smithy and sauna buildings. The Summer pasture farm would have been a distance from the main farm, to allow the livestock to graze elsewhere. You can get an idea of the layout of the farm from the last picture below.


At the back of the Älvros Farmstead we came upon the Bakehouse/Bagarstugan, which was originally from Jämtland, northern Sweden. Bakehouses during this time traditionally made thin, unleavened bread, made of barley flour. This is because little grain could grow in the north adn barley was the only one that woudl ripen in the short summer months. We got to try this barley bread, which tasted really nice with the butter. This was the only building with free samples that we came across.


Nearby we could see the Tingsvallen stage and a couple more runestones. The first stone was Ölstastenen and it came from Uppland. It boar the signature of Äsmund Kåresson. It reads “Bjõrn, Õdulv, Gunnar, Holmdis erected this stone in memory of Ulv Ginnlõg’s husband and Åsmund carved it.” The second one, Hanstastenen, is also from Uppland. It reads Gärdar and Jorund erected this stone in memory of their nephews Ärnmund and Ingemund.

Market Street

The next place we came upon was the Market Street, which is located in the centre of Skansen. There were only a couple stalls opened on the day we visited. However during holidays like Christmas, Easter and Midsummer, this stalls would all be open.

Just behind the Market Street, is the Bird Pond. Its is dominated by a seagull-looking bird. Its not very interesting, but kids may enjoy looking at the birds or its a nice place to sit and have lunch.

From the Market Stall we decided to go south east, but before we did we came across the Seglora Church/Seglora kyrka. This church is from Västergötland and was built in 1730, however the tower was built in the 1780s. The exterior is timber with oak shingles roof and painted with tar and traditional read paint. The interior has a whitewash walls and barrel-vaulted ceiling. We were not able to see inside in, but apparently you can follow the scenes of the life of Jesus across the ceiling. You can see a picture of interio here.

Just adjacent to the church is a small building called The Smithy/Smedjan. It comes from Uppland and was built at the end of the 18th century. It was used to make locks, hinges, door fasteners and repair machinery. They were usually build far from the other farming buildings to reduce fire risk.


Just behind the Smithy is the Hornborga Cottage/Hornborgastugan, which had some towns people working outside. Before this cottages was brought to Skansen in 1898, it was a home of a poor, landless family. They would have lived by selling simple crafts and done casual work. The last known residents were fisherman and shoemaker.


Väla School

Further south is the Väla School/Väla skola, built in Västergötland in the early 20th century. Schools usually contained a school room and lodging for teachers. Compulsory school for children was introduced by parliment in 1842 and went for at least 6 years. Teachers were not paid a high wage, so they would often keep bees as a additional source of income and they were provided with a vegetable patch. In the teachers lodging in this school was pretty nice and more spacious then I would have imagined.

Just behind the school is the The Virserum Storehouse/Virserumsboden, which is from the southern province of Småland. This two-storey building is fromthe 16th century and was used as a storeroom and privy. In the summer months, young people and servants would have used the upstairs for sleeping. This is one of the first buildings that arrived at Skansen. Near this building I came across a Milestone/Milstolpe, also from Småland. It shows has King Gustav 111’s monogram and is from 1779. In the 17th century the government declared that milestones would  be placed at regular intervels on all major roads. It was their role to build the roads and milestones, but the farmers responsible to maintain the roads. Very lagom!


The Skåne Farmstead and Garden

At the south western corner of the museum is the Skåne Farmstead/Skånegårdenand the Garden of Skåne Farmstead/Skånegårdens trädgård. This farmstead is represents during the 1920’s when the Åkesson family resided there. It was a small farm, that produced crops of grain, green fodder, potatoes and beets and a few live stock animals. The farmyard is actually encased in the middle of the building. The house is made of timber and board and the roof is made of straw-thatched. The house was quite large inside compared to other farm houses we visited and had very interesting interior.

Surrounding the farmstead is a beautiful garden, which represents the gardens in the region. These were a result of the 19th century land redistribution reform, who saw many villages split up and more land was available for farmsteads to have gardens of herbs, medicinal plants, orchards, and ornamental plants.


The animals that are on the Skåne and the Orkorp Farmstead are the same traditional breeds, which appeared on farms in southern Sweden in the early 20th century.

Lambgift and russgift are farmhouses from Gotland, which houses the Gute sheep and Gotland pony. Since sheep and ponies can live outdoors all year around, these farmhouses act as shelter and food source during the winter months. The Gotland pony/Gotlandsruss have been on the island of Gotland since the Iron Age. They are strong and durable breed, with a good resistance against diseases. The Gute sheep/Gutefår also originates from Gotland and are the only Swedish breed of sheep that has both male and female have horns. In the spring these sheep shed their wool, which allowed farmers to pull it instead of cutting it off. Their wool is gray or brown and is great for felting.

The Linderöd pig/Linderödssvin is the only native breed of pig that exists in Sweden today. It is originally an ancient forest pig and it has more body shape, hair and coloration then modern pigs.

Through out the museum there are Swedish Flower Hen/Skånsk blommhöna walking freely. they are the largest native breed in Sweden, however they nearly were existinct in 1800s. They were saved by villages in Skåne. In the museum their are many more varieties of chicken walking around such, Öland Chickens/Ölandshöna and Hedemora Chickens/Hedemorahöna

The Skania goose/Skånegås are a large breed that grows quickly and males can weigh upto 15kg. They geese are raised for both their meat, down and eggs. Their wings pens were used for ink pens and making arrows.

The Swedish yellow duck/Svensk gul anka is a domesticated since the mid 1500s and were raised for both meat and eggs. They produce alot more eggs then other breeds, up to 150-200 per year. In the museum, you can also see Swedish Blue Ducks/Svensk blå anka

The Swedish Lowland Cattle/Svensk låglandsboskap have only been in Sweden for the last 100years. They originate in Germany and Holland and were brought in the 1870’s to increase milk production. The Swedish breed has shorter legs and wider bodies then the original.


The Oktorp Farmstead

The Oktorp Farmstead/Oktorpsgården is a replica of a typical Halland farm, in southern Sweden from the 1870s. It was resided by the Lundqvist family,  Åke and Christina, daughter Hanna, an aunt, grandmother and a couple of farmhands. The land was quite arable, so they had to large barns for grains storage. The buildings are made with planks slotted with posts and the roofs are made of thatched straw. The family would have slept and ate in the lower part of the Dwelling house/Bostadshus. The other part of the Dwelling house was used for weaving, storeroom and summertime bedrooms. This is the oldest part of the building, which is from the mid-18th century. 


Nearby is the Norse Mill/Skvaltkvarnen, which is from the Halland. In the mid-19th century farms typically had their own mill for grinding grains into flour in the spring and water would drive the waterwheel in autumn. There was also a Milestone/Milstolpe from Halland. It is dated to 1666 and it has the King Karl XI’s monogram.


The Finn Settlement

The Finn Settlement/Finngården is located on the eastern side of the museum and we passed it on our way upto the Zoo. These building are from the forests of Värmland. Since Finland was part of Sweden for many centurys, the Finn’s were invited to settle in the crown forests in the 16th century. To create suitable land to grow crops they would slash and burn, which is an ancient form of cultivation. However in the 17th century this method was outlawed, as the forests were need to produce wood and make charcoal for iron foundaries. This particular settlement was used for threshing corn. The family would have lived in the smoke hut. The original village would have also had a sauna, stable and shed for livestock. 

Skansen Zoo

Next we made our way to the Skansen Zoo. This zoo has both domestic and wild Nordic animals. We didn’t have time to do the guided tour, but it is offered in the summer months. They animals all have quite large enclosures, but since you are up quite high, you can see the animals pretty well. We didn’t have time to see all the animals, but here are the highlights. 

The first animal we came across was the Wolf/Varg, which is the largest predator in Sweden. They live in packs and primary hunt elks. A pack can kill between 110-120 elks per year. The next animal, that we saw was the Wild Boar/Vildsvin. I only got a shot of one of the babies. These animals were nearly exitinced in Sweden, however after a lot had excaped from capitvity in the 1970’s their numbers have grown. They are a shy animal, which are quite dangerous if they feel threated. They do cause alot of damage to farm land, by troddle on and eating plants. However they are important to the forests as they eat harmful insects and help root land for seeding. In the same exclosure are the European Bison/Visent. They are massive beast, which we could still see pretty well from a distance. Back in  5000-3000 BC their were wild European Bison in Sweden. However, they were nearly brought to extinction in Sweden, Russia and Eastern Europe during WWI. They are not being reintroduced into the wild in other European countries. One animal we were able to see quite well was the Lynx/Lodjur. These are the only wild cat found in Sweden. They are nocturnal and stealth hunters, but they don’t have the stamina to travel long distances. They primarly eat roe deer, but also sheep and lamb. We did get to see some Gotland Ponies in the Zoo, which I mentioned above.

We also saw a few interesting birds. The Great Grey Owl/Lappuggla or Lapland Owl is quite large in size. They have amazing eyesight, hearing and are able to fly almost silentlyl. They primarily eat small rodents and shrews. A smaller bird we saw was the White-backed woodpecker/Vitryggig hackspett, which is an near extinct bird in Sweden, however they are more commonly found in Baltic countires. Since they primarly eat wood-dwelling insects, the changing forest landscape has caused their decline. Another beautiful bird we saw in the zoo was the Peacock/Påfågel, as they roam free in the summer months. 

The favourite animal of the day was definately the Brown Bear/BrunbjörnThe adult bears were in their own enclosure and there was only two that we could see. The little bears where in a much smaller enclosure and they gave us quite a show. I think there was about four of them and three decided to have play fight in the pond, which was very entertaining. These animals are the largest predator in Sweden. They are agile, fast runners and good swimmers. They primarly eat ants, berries and plants, but they also kill elks and other smaller animals. 

At this point we went for lunch but we did come back to see these animals straight after. Firstly, saw the majestic Reindeer/Rangifer tarandus, which are found in the Swedish mountains and across the north of Scandinavia and Finland. The reindeer in Sweden today belong to the Sami people who have been rearing. However, did become extinct in Sweden in the 19th century. They mostly graze on moss, lichens and green plants. Interestingly, they are one of the only species of deer that both male and female have antlers. Another interesting large animal we saw was the Moose/Älg. It is known as the king of the forest and similarly many large animals in Sweden was almost extinct in the early 20th century. However, the species have been rehabilitated in the wild forests. The last animal we saw was the Grey Seal/Gråsäl, which live in the Baltic and are the largest of three Swedish species. They are very fast swimmers like most seal so it was hard to capture a good look of them.


Balderslunden food court

By this time we had been at the musuem quite a few hours and we were getting hungry. So we headed down to the Balderslunden Food Court/Balderslunden mattorg. Here you can find Balderslunden (burgers), Cafe Nyloftet (sandwiches, coffee, fika), Pannkakshuset (pancakes, BBQ) and Glasslunden (icecream, coffee). We decided to have burgers at Balderlunden. Marco and I both ordered the Balder’s Burger, which had a beef pattie, creamed mushrooms, onion, Västerbotten cheese, parsley and it comes with French fries and Dip Sauce. For Octavia we ordered the Lilla Kott’s Menu, which was a smaller beef burger with cheese and came with French Fries and an Organic Juce and fruit. Our burgers were pretty good. The beef wasn’t the highest grade, but the other fillings made it really delicious. Octavia didn’t eat much of her burger, but then we should of known she wouldn’t eat it. She mostly ate the chips, which were also nice. 

There were some other interesting buildings around the food court. The Nora Market Building/Noraboden was from Västmanland and was used as a warehouse for transmen from Arboga. The Bredablick Tower was built in the same location in 1870’s, by a doctor who wanted to start a spa. This spot was ideal due to its high altitude and was surrounded by woods. The bright blue and red building is the Brage Hall/Bragehallen, which was built as a beer hall for the 1897 Stockholm Exhibition. It is an octagonal hall, which was designed by Carl Westman. It was donated to Skansen after the exhibition and is now used for theatre and circus performances. 


Children’s Zoo

The Children’s Zoo/Lill-Skansen is conviently located just near the food court. It has an indoor and outdoor zoo and playground and has about 30 different species of animals. Octavia had so much fun exploring animal exclosures and play area on the inside. She spent even more time outside riding down the large snake slide. 


Summer Pastures & Sami Camp

Afterwards we went to see the last parts of the museum that we had missed on the western side. We didn’t see it all since we had to go meet our cousin, but we did see the Summer Pastures and Sami Camp. The Summer Pasture Farm/Fäboden is where the grazing animals would be taken during the summer months. The Sami Camp/Sámisiida is an example of a mountain camp, sued by the Sami people during the spring and autumn months in early 20th century. Unfortunately these buildings don’t tell much of a story about the Sami. However, there are more museums in Sweden and Finland that are dedicated to the Sami people.

Skogaholm Manor

The last building we saw on our way out was the Skogaholm Manor/Skogaholms herrgård, which is just near the southern exit. This is an example of an 18th century manor in central Sweden, in the Swedish Rococo style. Unfortunately we couldn’t see inside but you can see the interior here. The main building is from Skogaholms bruk, Närke and is dated to the 1680s. However, the exterior was rendered and painted in the 1790s.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Next we will be exploring more of Stockholm.


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