Top Historic Sites in Scania

Malmö Stortorget

At the heart of Malmö lies the Big Square (Stortorget). There is a statue of King Karl X Gustav of Sweden, who took the city from Danish dominion. The ornate Malmö City Hall (built in 1546) is on the east side, and in the northwest corner is Kockska Huset, the house of Jörgen Kock, a German immigrant who became mayor of the city and achieved wealth simply and directly: by taking control of the city mint. In ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Malmö, Sweden

Lund Cathedral

Lund Cathedral was consecrated in 1145, and contains many well-known artefacts and features of considerable historical interest. Since then service has been held here every day for almost 900 years. Today over 700 000 persons visit the church each year with some 85 000 who attends a service. The first cathedral was built in Lund before 1085, but it is difficult to know if the present building was built in the same place. ...
Founded: 1080-1145 | Location: Lund, Sweden

Kärnan

Kärnan is a medieval tower, the only part remaining of a larger Danish fortress which controlled the entrance to the Baltic Sea. The origins of the fortress is disputed but Danish legend places its origin to the reign of the legendary King Fróði. However, this legend has not been supported by archaeological proof. Dendrochronological dating has shown that the core was built in the 1310s, when Eric VI of Denmark was Ki ...
Founded: 1310s | Location: Helsingborg, Sweden

Ale's Stones

Ale's Stones (Ales stenar) is a megalithic monument which consists of a stone ship 67 meters long formed by 59 large boulders of sandstone, weighing up to 1.8 tonnes each. According to Scanian folklore, a legendary king called King Ale lies buried there. The carbon-14 dating system for organic remains has provided seven results at the site. One indicates that the material is around 5,500 years old whereas the remaining s ...
Founded: 500-1000 AD | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Ystad Abbey

Ystad Abbey was inaugurated in 1267 by the Fransiscan Order. Along Vadstena it is the best preserved medieval abbey in Sweden. Dissolved at the Reformation, the Abbey was handed over to the towns people and soon fell into disrepair. The eastern part and gatekeeper’s house has survived to present days.. In 1912 it became home to the local museum, which holds changing temporary exhibitions in a wing of the abbey and ...
Founded: 1267 | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Glimmingehus

Glimmingehus, is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the noble ...
Founded: 1499-1506 | Location: Hammenhög, Sweden

Bosjökloster

Bosjökloster (Bosjö Abbey) was originally a nunnery, founded in 1080 by the Benedictine Order. The oldest preserved document that mentions Bosjö Abbey was written by Pope Lucius III in 1181, when he confirmed its privileges. According to local legend, the land was donated by Tord Thott, the first known ancestor of the Scanian noble family Thott. The abbey was transformed into a castle in the 16th century, a ...
Founded: 1080 | Location: Höör, Sweden

Torup Castle

Torup Castle, completed around 1540, is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Sweden. It was built by Görvel Fadersdotter (Sparre). Torup Castle was restored between 1602-1630 to the the appearance it has today. Later Torup was owned by Stjernblad and Coyet families and since 1970 the Malmö municipality. On May 21, 1775 a tragic accident occured at Torup Castle. Cornet Fredrich Trolle along with his aun ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Svedala, Sweden

King's Grave

The King's Grave (Kungagraven i Kivik, Kiviksgraven) is what remains of an unusually grand Nordic Bronze Age double burial c. 1000 BC. In spite of the facts that the site has been used as a quarry, with its stones carried off for other uses, and that it was restored carelessly once it was known to be an ancient burial, these two burials are unique. In both construction and in size — it is a circular site measuring 75 m ...
Founded: c. 1000 BC | Location: Kivik, Sweden

Holy Cross Priory

Holy Cross Abbey was an important Augustinian monastery located in Skåne's old capital, Dalby. It’s history began as a Viking Age royal manor. The buildings along with a granite chapel were donated for the establishment of a Benedictine monastery during the reign of King Sweyn II of Denmark, who gifted the old manor on which the abbey was to be built and two and a half other rented properties to fund its const ...
Founded: 1060 | Location: Dalby, Sweden

Vittskövle Castle

Vittskövle Castle (also spelt Widtsköfle) is one of the best-preserved Renaissance castles in the Nordic countries. It has had medieval precursors, but the present castle was built by Jens Brahe in 1553. It is the largest castle in Skåne with approx. 100 rooms. Location and shape were decided out of consideration for defence and the tiled four-winged castle was built on piles in the marsh and supplied with ...
Founded: 1553 | Location: Vittskövle, Sweden

Trolleholm Castle

Trolleholm Castle (Trolleholms slott) was originally named Kattesnabbe and later Ericholm. It has been known since 1424, and was a monastic estate in the late Middle Ages. Trolleholm belonged to members of the Thott family (1533-1680) and Trolle family (1680-1806). Frederik Trolle (1693-1770) gave it its present name in 1755. The castle was reconstructed in the 1760s according the design of Carl Hårleman. The presen ...
Founded: 1760s | Location: Svalöv, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.