Nääs Castle is a 17th century mansion near Gothenburg, Sweden. In the later half of the 19th century Nääs became world renowned through its Crafts College and for more than 50 years it was regarded as 'Swedens window to the world'.
According to legend, King Kristian II built a castle for hunting parties at Näs. The first historical evidence on Nääs Estate however, derives from record dated 3 October 1529. The first known owner, Joen Småswen, constructed a large manor on the promontory in Lake Savelången. At the end of the 16th century the estate was owned by the governor of west Sweden, Göran Eriksson Ulfsparre. It was subsequently owned by Ulfsparres family members and the noble families Lilliehöök, Natt och Dag, Cronsköld, Oxenstierna, Göthenstierna, von Utfall and Reenstierna.
1824 the estate was sold to Peter Wilhelm Berg, a wholesaler from Gothenburg. After his death the property was divided between his surviving children (only 3 out of his 10 children survived childhood). Bergs’ son Theodor and his daughter Nensy were allotted Nääs factories. The youngest son, Gottfrid, received the rest of the estate, including the mansion. A memorial stone to the 7 dead brothers and sisters was raised in the Castle gardens at the northern side of the mansion. In 1868 the mansion and associated land was sold to August Abrahamson, yet another wholesaler from Gothenburg. Abrahamson founded the famous Crafts College and donated the entire property to the State after his death in 1897, in order to secure continuity for the Nääs educational programme.
The main building on the cultural heritage site of Nääs estate, Nääs Castle, is now museum open to the public, daily between May-September (only guided tours) as well as for pre-booked group-appointments outside of the tourist season.
The estate exists of a number of historic buildings open to the public. In addition to a restaurant, café, art & crafts shop and west Sweden’s very own heritage foundation, byggnadsvård Nääs, a range of exciting public events are organized each year (more information and Nääs Castle and Crafts College home page). Art & Crafts courses, though in a far lesser extent, are still practiced in one of the buildings.
The old stable is now home to a horse riding school and Nääs horse association. Beside several nature and walking trails, Nääs estate also provides Bed & Breakfast as well as conference accommodations. During the summer several craft courses are held at the ’Slöjdseminariet’, the crafts college official building.
Nääs Castle and Crafts College is administered and maintained by August Abrahamsons foundation, a Swedish government administration.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.