Thursday, 10 August 2017

Stockholm and Uppsala – in the footsteps of Gustavus Adolphus

This summer, we visited Sweden – Stockholm and Uppsala, to be more precise. Since the 17th century happens to feature strongly in our current interests, there were a couple of places that we particularly wanted to see.

One that I recommend to anyone interested in history is the Royal Armoury, Livrustkammaren, the oldest museum in Sweden (established by Gustavus Adolphus himself). Their collection features dazzling suits of armour (from various centuries)...




...gorgeous weapons...


(Above, Gustavus Adolphus' rapier)







...splendid suits and gowns, literally fit for kings and queens...



 






 (and their servants)

 (and their horses)



...and fairy-tale carriages.






I must also note that there was no entry fee – you could see all this and much more for free!

One cannot truly claim to be a 17th century enthusiast and not see the Vasa ship – the grand ship commissioned by Gustavus Adolphus that, unfortunately, sank as soon as it launched on its first voyage in 1628. The entire ship is housed in the Vasa Museum. There it hulks, this enormous, dark thing. The smell of old wood is everywhere. Although the museum also features a large exhibition with various other, related items, I couldn’t help it: my gaze was always drawn to the ship, and even when it wasn’t, I could just feel its presence. However, the rest of the exhibition is very interesting indeed, and it took us hours to tour the whole place.
(A more detailed post has appeared in my DH's blog; to see that, go here.)



 







(Our hero playing... um... not quite sure what... the role of an ancient Roman hero, I suppose. ūüėĀ)

Last but not least on our list was Uppsala and the university museum Gustavianum, built in the 1620s (and named after our hero, of course, whose donation helped construct the building).


Right across the street, Uppsala Cathedral, the coronation site of Gustavus Adolphus:



Gustavianum itself was a very pleasant surprise: I expected something in much smaller scale, but the museum had a nice little section about Egypt and ancient world. Ancient Egypt being one of my interests, this was a particularly lovely surprise – and our daughter, who had always wanted to see sarcophagi, was thrilled! A mummy that was also on display both terrified and fascinated her.



There were sections about the history of the university and, of course, a whole room dedicated to the time of Gustavus Adolphus, where the main attraction was the cabinet of curiosities he received only a little before his death. The enormous cabinet has various parts, some of them detachable, and houses a great number of all sorts of strange objects.







But there was more! I especially loved the old anatomical theater dating back to the 1660s, the kind you see in movies (but more beautiful):



 




In addition, there was a small but interesting Vendel and Viking Age section, but I will return to that in a later post.

The museum shops were all worth a visit as well, and thanks to this trip, our book collection grew quite a bit...