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  • Timo Kiviluoma

The Vasa Museum tells a sad story

The Vasa Museum

The Vasa Museum in Djurgården, Stockholm, tells a sad story about the king who wanted to be the greatest of all. The Vasa ship was built on the orders of the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus, as part of the military expansion he initiated. She was constructed at the navy yard in Stockholm and armed primarily with bronze cannons. Richly decorated as a symbol of the king's ambitions for Sweden and himself, upon completion she was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world.

The Vasa Museum

However, Vasa was dangerously unstable and top-heavy with too much weight in the upper structure of the hull. The king's subordinates lacked the political courage to openly discuss the ship's structural problems or to have the maiden voyage postponed.

On 10 August 1628, the captain ordered Vasa to depart on her maiden voyage. The day was calm, and the only wind was a light breeze from the south-west. The gun ports were open, and the guns were out to fire a salute as the ship left Stockholm. A stronger gust forced the ship onto its port side, pushing the open lower gunports under the surface, allowing water to rush in onto the lower gun deck. The water building up on the deck quickly exceeded the ship's minimal ability to right itself, and water continued to pour in until it ran down into the hold; the ship quickly sank to a depth of 32 m only 120 m from the shore.

An impressive museum building

The wreck was salvaged in 1961 after 333 years under the sea. From the end of 1961 to 1988, Vasa was housed in a temporary structure called Wasavarvet. The new building of the Vasa Museum was officially opened in 1990. The Vasa Museum is a very impressive sight. Just after the entrance gates, the huge size of the ship is visible. The main hall contains the ship itself and various exhibits related to the archaeological findings of the ships and early 17th-century Sweden. My son is interested in history and he was very impressed by everything inside the museum building.

Take a ferry to Djurgården

The best way to arrive in Djurgården is by ferry, either from the centre or from the old town. The voyage itself is a fun way to see Stockholm’s skyline. There are several interesting attractions in Djurgården. For instance, for adults there is ABBA The Museum and the Museum of Spirits while for families there is the amusement park Gröna Lund and Skansen natural park. During your day in Djurgården you will probably want refresments too; there is a very nice café called Blå Porten next to ABBA The Museum.

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