| Stockholm, Sweden is really BIG! I think
it's just like Manhattan because it's built up, not out, like a Chicago. Stockholm
is the 1998 Cultural City of Europe in 1998 and I can see why. It's definitely the
museum capital of the world with a gazillion just in the city. Our harbor here was
the Wasa Harbor which is right next to the Vasa museum.
The great warship, Vasa, was ordered built by King Gustavus II Adolphus between the years 1625 and 1628. At the time, the Vasa was the most expensive warship built in Sweden, consuming 4% of the country's budget. The ship was started January 16,1625 in Skeppsgarden, the navel dockyard, with 400 men and 1,000 felled black oak trees. During 1626, the casting of the Vasa's 64 bronze cannons begins along with hundreds of sculptures and statues. On January 16, 1628, the King visits and inspects the Vasa. He has determined that the Vasa will be Sweden's new flag ship and thus should be the biggest and most powerful ship in the fleet. He orders that an additional gun deck be built, above the existing one. The shipbuilders knew at the time that this was not a good idea but no one questioned the King. On August 10, 1628 the Vasa fired a salute and sailed off on her maiden voyage. The ship had four of her ten sails up when a small gust of wind heeled the Vasa over. Water rushed in her lower gunports and the Vasa began to sink. She capsized and sank after sailing only 1300 meters! Of the 100 seamen and 50 women and children aboard, 50 people went down with the ship. The women and children of the officers were allowed along on the first short voyage. The captain was promptly arrested 12 hours later her loss. He swore that none of the 100 seamen aboard was drunk and that all the cannons were properly lashed. He said the ship was too unstable. Most all agreed that the captain was right. Three weeks previous, a stability test was made on the Vasa. Thirty men ran from one side of the deck to the other. The test was stopped after the third time as the ship almost capsized!
Numerous attempts were made to salvage the Vasa at the time but all failed. In 1664, most of the Vasa's bronze cannons were raised using a diving bell like the one pictured on the right. All other salvage operations then ceased. In 1953, Anders Franzen starts searching for the Vasa in the archives and by dragging and sounding the Stockholm harbor. He locates the Vasa in 1956 with a special core sampler in 32 meters of water. The Vasa is raised in 1961 and today rests in the Vasa Museum, one of the worlds largest tourist attractions.
We toured Old Town, saw the smallest statue in Sweden, walked down the narrowest street in Stockholm and visited the Royal Palace. Stockholm is a great city that can't be seen in just a week. If you travel here, plan to spend some time here as there's plenty to see and do.