Day trip tips outside Stockholm

Uppsala Cathedral

Uppsala Cathedral is the largest and tallest cathedral and one of the most impressive religious buildings in Scandinavia. Originally built in the 13th century under Roman Catholicism and used for coronations of the Swedish monarch, since the Protestant Reformation, it has been controlled by the Lutheran Church of Sweden. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Uppsala, the primate of Sweden. The construction of the cathedral ...
Founded: 1287-1435 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Uppsala Castle

Uppsala Castle is a 16th century royal castle in the historical city of Uppsala. Throughout much of its early history, the castle played a major role in the history of Sweden. It was built during the time Sweden was on its way to become a great power in Europe. King Gustav Vasa began construction of Uppsala Castle in 1549. Kings Erik XIV, John III and Charles IX all remodeled and expanded the citadel into a representativ ...
Founded: 1549 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Sigtuna Museum

Sigtuna Museum exhibits the history of Sigtuna, Sweden's oldest medieval city. The museum is located on the site where the first royal palace was built in the late 900’s AD. The museum dates back to 1916 and the current museum has been built in the 1960s with new showrooms, reception and storage. The permanent exhibition displays Sigtuna's earliest history. Although the museum is active in many areas the archaeologi ...
Founded: 1916 | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Wik Castle

Wik Castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Sweden. The first owner was Israel And in the end of 13th century. The current magnificent castle with seven floors was built in the late 15th century. The massive walls and moats made the stronghold impregnable. During the Middle Ages, the castle was one of the sturdiest strongholds in the Mälaren Valley, and Gustav Wasa once besieged Wik Castle for over a ...
Founded: ca. 1450 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Uppsala University Botanical Garden

The Uppsala University Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden in Sweden. It was founded in 1655 by Olof Rudbeck the elder, professor of medicine. The garden was used for teaching students botany and pharmacy. By the end of the century, more than 1 800 species were grown in the garden, many of them for the first time in Sweden. Olof Rudbecks´ botanical garden was largely destroyed by a fire in 1702. The univ ...
Founded: 1655 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Gamla Uppsala Church

The stone church of Gamla Uppsala, built over the pagan temple, dates from the early 12th century. Due to fire and renovations, the present church is only a remnant of the original cathedral. Before the arrival of Christianity in Sweden, Gamla Uppsala was the seat of Swedish kings and a ceremonial site known all over northern Europe. The settlement was home to royal palaces, a royal burial ground, and a great pagan tem ...
Founded: ca. 1164 | Location: Gamla Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden

Birka

During the Viking Age, Birka was an important trading center. The archaeological sites of Birka and Hovgården, on the neighbouring island of Adelsö, make up an archaeological complex which illustrates the elaborate trading networks of Viking Scandinavia and their influence on the subsequent history of Europe. Generally regarded as Sweden's oldest town, Birka (along with Hovgården) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site ...
Founded: ca. 750 AD | Location: Adelsö, Sweden

Skokloster Castle

Skokloster Castle was built in the Baroque style between 1654 and 1676 by the wealthy military commander and count Carl Gustaf Wrangel. The castle was designed by architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder. When Wrangel died, the castle passed into the hands of the Brahe family, and then, after 1930, became the property of the von Essens. In 1967 the castle and its contents were sold by the family to the Swedish government; sin ...
Founded: 1654-1676 | Location: Skokloster, Sweden

Ulriksdal Palace

Ulriksdal Palace is a royal palace situated on the banks of the Edsviken in the National City Park. It was originally called Jakobsdal after its owner Jacob De la Gardie, who had it built by architect Hans Jacob Kristler in 1643-1645 as a country retreat. He later passed on to his son, Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie, from whom it was purchased in 1669 by Queen Hedvig Eleonora. The present design is mainly the work of archite ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Vaxholm Castle

Vaxholm Castle was originally constructed by Gustav Vasa in 1544 to defend Stockholm against shipborne attacks from the east, but most of the current structure dates from 1833-1863. The stretch of water below the building was formerly the main sea route to Stockholm. Thus, the fortress was strategically situated to defend the city from naval attacks. The castle was attacked by the Danes in 1612 and the Russian navy in 171 ...
Founded: 1544, 1833-1863 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Gripsholm Castle

Gripsholm Castle is regarded as one of Sweden's finest historical monuments. A fortress was built at the location around 1380 by Bo Jonsson Grip, and belonged to his family until the confiscation of mansions and castles by King Gustav I in 1526. The King tore it down, and built a fortified castle with circular corner towers and a wall, for defensive purposes. Of the original medieval fortress, only the façade of a ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Mariefred, Sweden

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church (Mariakyrkan) is the oldest still used building in Sigtuna. The brick-made church was constructed in the mid-13th century and inaugurated in 1247. It was, however, completed probably in 1255, when the archbishop Jarler was buried there. The church was enlarged and sacristy added in the 1280’s. Due the Reformation King Gustav Vasa ordered to demolish the adjacent abbey in 1530 and St. Mary's became ...
Founded: 1230-1255 | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Drottningholm Palace

The Drottningholm Palace is the private residence of the Swedish royal family. It was originally built in the late 16th century. It served as a residence of the Swedish royal court for most of the 18th century. Apart from being the private residence of the Swedish royal family, the palace is a popular tourist attraction. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, mainly because of its Theatre (an opera house located at the ...
Founded: 1662 | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

The Royal Mounds

The Royal mounds (Kungshögarna) is the name for the three large barrows which are located in Gamla (Old) Uppsala. According to ancient mythology and folklore, it would be the three gods Thor, Odin and Freyr lying in Kungshögarna. In the 19th and 20th centuries, they were speculated to hold the remains of three kings of the legendary House of Ynglings and where thus known by the names Aun's Mound, Adil's Mound an ...
Founded: 400-500 AD | Location: Gamla Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden

Hovgården

Hovgården is an archaeological site on the Lake Mälaren island of Adelsö. During the Viking Age, the centre of the prospering Mälaren Valley was the settlement Birka, founded in the mid-8th century and abandoned in the late 10th century and located on the island Björkö just south of Adelsö. Hovgården is believed to have been the site from where kings and chieftains ruled the area. ...
Founded: ca. 100-1520 AD | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

St. Peter's Church Ruins

St. Peter's Church have been probably built in two phases during the 12th century.The eastern part with chancel, transept and central tower were erected first during the late 1100's, while the nave and the present west tower were added later. According the tradition the church was used as a bishop’s cathedral until 1130 when the bishop's seat was moved to Gamla Uppsala. The another legend believes the church has be ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Helgö

The island of Helgö is probably best known for a major archaeological area. The old trading town on Helgö began to emerge around the year 200 AD, 500 years before the well-known Birka. The first archaeological excavaton in 1954 found not only remains of the early settlement, but also a workshop area that became of international interest. Among the finds were a small Buddha statuette from North India and a christening s ...
Founded: 200 AD | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Tullgarn Palace

Tullgarn Palace is a royal summer palace built in the 1720s. The palace offers a mixture of rococo, Gustavian and Victorian styles. The interior design is regarded as one of Sweden"s finest. In 1719, the old Renaissance castle from the late 16th century was demolished. The newly appointed Privy Councillor Magnus Julius De la Gardie commissioned architect Joseph Gabriel Destain to design the present palace, built in ...
Founded: 1720s | Location: Vagnhärad, Sweden

Vaksala Runestone

The Vaksala Runestone is one of the approximately forty runestones made by the runemaster Öpir, who signed this inscription and was active in the late 11th and early 12th century in Uppland. This runestone style is characterized by slim and stylized animals that are interwoven into tight patterns. The animal heads are typically seen in profile with slender almond-shaped eyes and upwardly curled appendages on the nose ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.