Stockholm is a city of islands, where its 2 million residents live on 14 islands which are interlinked together by numerous bridges, thus giving Stockholm the nickname – the Venice of the North.
Today, the island that we are visiting is the green island of Djurgarden, also known as Stockholm’s park island and home of the Vasa Museum.
A pretty sight as we alighted from bus 76. For information on how to get to the public bus stop, read our previous article.
From the bus stop, the Vasa Museum is a 7 to 10 minute walk, part of it across a bridge.
Walking across the pedestrial bridge to get to the island of Djurgarden, home of the Vasa Museum. This was where we got our best scenery shots of Stockholm city.
Today, even the clouds conspired to give us such stunning shots from the bridge.
Taking in the beautiful architecture and sights along the way.
Admission tickets to Vasa is about SGD$22 each. At 10am, we were one of the earliest birds at the museum, so there was no queue for the tickets. In case you are wondering what the fuss is all about in Vasa Museum, it actually houses the only most intact ship built in the 17th century. And you got it – that particular ship was named Vasa.
There are free guided tours in English, and we strongly recommend taking them for an overview of the museum. Each tour takes about 30 mins and is sufficient to educate us clueless tourists on Vasa.
The Vasa was one of four new ships commissioned to be built in 1625 by the Swedish King, Gustav II Adolf, who wanted to build Sweden into one of the most powerful nations in Europe.
This was what Vasa was supposed to look like with its sails. The Vasa was then expected to dominate the Baltic Sea, but due to the poor design of the ship, it sank on its maiden voyage a short distance away from the ship yard where it was built. It was perhaps the shortest maiden voyage ever.
Vasa remain immortalised, preserved in the brackish Baltic sea for 330 years before technology finally rendered it possible for an excavation of the ship, which is what we see in Vasa museum today.
The Vasa measures 69 metres long and more than 50 metres tall from the keel to the top of the main mast. Almost the entire museum space is dominated by the Vasa. What is seen here is only the bow side of the ship.
It’s hard to imagine how impressive the size of this ship is, unless you are standing next to it.
To be honest, to me, Vasa looked more like a ghost ship than anything else. Somehow, it was the combination of its colour, design, various levels of decay and morbid history that came together to give me goose bumps when I looked at it.
The most intricate part of Vasa lies at the back of the ship which was heavily ornamented with sculptures symbolising authority, wisdom and martial prowess meant to intimidate the enermy.
Back in its days of glory, those sculptures were actually painted in bright colours, evident from the traces of paint found on the ship.
Vasa, being a war ship was once fitted with large amounts of arms and cannons, which were fired out of these windows on both sides of the ship.
Being able to explore the re-creation of the gun deck of the ship was one of the highlights of the tour! But mind the head, because some parts of the ceiling was way too low!
The Vasa took down the sailors which were operating the vessels the day it sank. When the Vasa was eventually rediscovered earlier this century, the bodies of those sailors andtheir belongings were also recovered.
The most exciting exhibition in the entire Vasa Museum was located at its basement where a collection of the remains of the people who perished on the Vasa were found when the ship was excavated.
I’ve never viewed, or perhaps a more accurate term was ‘examined’ real skeletons this closely before. It’s an activity that was hugely morbid – me walking around the place comparing which skeleton was more fully assembled, reading the history of where and how each of these remains were, and feeling sorry for those whose skeletons were largely incomplete.
Bust figures of two of the sailors, their face reconstructed by computer technology, and reconstructed so life-like that it looked as real as life. The fact that you only discover that they were not alive when you find their heads on half a chest which makes it all the more eerier.
The Vasa Museum became a living nightmare when more and more group tours started pouring in!
We were glad we were here early and had finished looking at most parts of the museum by this time. And could retire to a quiet corner for lunch.
There’s only one food-court like eating place at Vasa, and truth be told, prices are quite steep.
At least the food looked appetising.
Our sandwich to share, coffee and juice! Unfortunately, the Swedish make their coffee diluted and not at all to my liking.
Wow, a sandwich, a cup of coffee and a bottle of juice cost us about SGD$20. I began to miss the free food on the Caribbean Princess.
On our way out of the Vasa Museum, we began to count our blessings when we saw the insane queue for tickets! Can’t imagine that people had to queue up until the outside of the museum under the blazing sun!
Join us next as we visit the The Royal Palace of Stockholm.