The history of Maria Magdalena Church dates back to the 1350s when King Magnus Eriksson with the permission of Pope Clement VI had a funeral chapel built on the location and dedicated it to Mary Magdalene. When Gustav Vasa liberated Stockholm in the early 1520s, his troops led by Peder Fredag encamped in the chapel and suffered severe losses when the troops of Christian II of Denmark attacked from the city. This might have been one of the reasons Vasa had all churches, monasteries, and chapels on the ridges surrounding the city destroyed after the introduction of Protestantism in 1527, including the chapel of Mary Magdalene. However, his son King John III started the construction of a new church on the location in 1588. His death in 1592 caused construction work to halt, and the church remained uncompleted until 1634.
Both Nicodemus Tessin the Elder and the Younger gave the church its Baroque appearance. The spire of the former, however, inaugurated in 1676 and according to himself the most beautiful spire in Stockholm, was destroyed in a fire in 1759 together with some 300 buildings in the neighbourhood. Superintendent Carl Johan Cronstedt was commissioned to rebuild the church and had his task completed in 1763. An interior restoration was made in 1927 and the exterior yellow colour was ameliorated in 1986.
The church has a nave but no aisles. The painting of the high altar is the Adoration of the Shepherds by Louis Masreliez from around 1800. The pulpit, the Baroque design of Carl Johan Cronstedt, was inaugurated in 1763 and carries a medallion with the portrait of Mary Magdalene. The front of the organ was designed by Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz in 1774 while the present 50-stop organ is from 1927. A second organ was added in 1986 and in the choir is a third smaller organ.
The baptismal font dates back to 1638 and among the sacramental vessels which survived the fire in 1759, is the oldest effects of the church - a sacramental pan in copper with capital inscriptions. Among the epitaphs in the church are one dedicate to Christopher Polhem and another to Carl Michael Bellman. Under the church are older sepulchral chambers, the burial chapel of which today serves parishes of the Estonian-Finnish Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.References:
Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.
The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.
In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.
Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.
Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.