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Inside The Swedish Medieval Kalmar Castle
What do you do when you wake up to a drizzly rainy day and you are on vacation? My answer is to go to a castle, especially when it’s one that has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. I don’t know what it is about gray, wet days, but they seem to help capture the ambiance, the authenticity of castle life.
That’s how we ended up in Kalmar. It was pouring, and we really wanted to visit the castle. The parking lot is near the cemetery, and it’s a bit of a walk to the main entrance and ticket area, so by the time we had paid and were ready to go in, we were all a bit soggy. I imagine that many days that’s how the castle residents felt too… a little soggy.
Kalmar is a gorgeous castle, and as you walk up to it you can wander down inside the old moat, which now is a very well-manicured grassy area where there are sometimes kids shows. After buying tickets, you immediately walk on the wooden drawbridge and can see the first of many defenses that the fortress provided.
The first defense tower, which is now the main area of the castle, was built in 1180. Kalmar was built on the previous border of the Danish border so it was in a very strategic location. At that time it was ruled by King Magnus who continued to build it up. After the unification of Denmark and Sweden, thanks to the vision of Queen Margareta, the rule turned to the Vasa kings. It was the Vasa kings that kept building, renovating, and furnishing the palace into what we see today, a gorgeous palace. For a brief time, the castle was taken over by the Danes, but it was given back in 1658 and has remained Swedish ever since.
We love wandering from room to room. Many of the rooms are still full of portraits, furniture, and keepsakes belonging to the castle. In one hall, they hold a changing art exhibit and while we were there the art work on display was a series of glass pieces. Just beautiful! You also have the option of attending a guided tour in English which is highly recommended.
We really enjoyed the exhibits including many facets of Swedish history, the kitchens, some bed chambers, interactive displays, and even the old women’s prison. This is also the castle where Jim met a young ghost in one room. Additionally, children can dress up in armor and ride jousting “horse” or practice at bows and arrows in the castle courtyard, weather permitting.
By the time we’d had our fill of life from the Middle Ages, the sun was starting to make an appearance, and our stomachs were complaining. We’re always on the lookout for a cheap delicious local lunch, so we stopped by one of the hot dog stands and filled up. I’d never thought of eating mashed potatoes with my hot dog, but I must admit it is delicious!
Practical Information For Planning A Trip To Kalmar Castle
Getting To Kalmar Castle
Kalmar makes the perfect stopover spot for a road trip between Copenhagen and Stockholm, with about 4 hours driving time on either side of the trip. The route is easy and very scenic. Once in Kalmar you can drive and park at the castle or walk from the center. If you are traveling by rail (on a eurail pass for instance) travel time from either Copenhagen or Stockholm is about the same as driving. The castle is an easy 10 minute walk from the station.
Address: Kungsgatan 1, 392 33 Kalmar, Sweden
Opening Times: Daily 10 AM – 4 PM
Where To Stay In Kalmar
One good option in the mid-range category is the Slottshotellet across from the castle and the nearby museum. This beautiful and affordable hotel has rooms in some 18th and 19th century villas. Breakfast and dinner, both very good, are included in the price along with good wifi and parking on site.
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