The Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet) is a maritime museum displaying the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged, the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. Opened in 1990, the Vasa Museum is one of the most visited museums in Scandinavia.
The main hall contains the ship itself and various exhibits related to the archaeological findings of the ships and early 17th century Sweden. Vasa has been fitted with the lower sections of all three masts, a new bowsprit, winter rigging, and has had certain parts that were missing or heavily damaged replaced. The replacement parts have not been treated or painted and are therefore clearly visible against the original material that has been darkened after three centuries under water.
The new museum is dominated by a large copper roof with stylized masts that represent the actual height of Vasa when she was fully rigged. Parts of the building are covered in wooden panels painted in dark red, blue, tar black, ochre yellow and dark green. The interior is similarly decorated, with large sections of bare, unpainted concrete, including the entire ceiling. Inside the museum the ship can be seen from six levels, from her keel to the very top of the stern castle. Around the ship are numerous exhibits and models portraying the construction, sinking, location and recovery of the ship. There are also exhibits that expand on the history of Sweden in the 17th century, providing background information for why the ship was built. A movie theatre shows a film in alternating languages on the recovery of the Vasa.
The museum also features four other museum ships moored in the harour outside: the ice breaker Sankt Erik (launched 1915), the lightvessel Finngrundet (1903), the torpedo boat Spica (1966) and the rescue boat Bernhard Ingelsson (1944).References:
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.