Kalmar Slott is a beautiful and imposing castle, that on the day we visited, mysteriously appeared out of the fog when we were almost on top of it. It is set in a beautiful location with lots of green areas, and water surrounding it. It is an exciting place for any children to visit and imagine what life would have been like with its displays of pictures, interactive activities, and a wealth of things to see and touch.
The 12th century was a period of unrest and attacks from the sea, so the initial buildings on this site were built to protect the harbour. In 1180 it consisted of just a defence tower to protect the town from pirates and gangs, and it was gradually built up from that as the times necessitated. For hundreds of years the fortress saw a LOT of action, as Kalmar was at the centre of Sweden defending itself from Denmark. The country’s borders were very different back in those days, which much of southern Sweden as it is now, actually being Danish. It was a very important and strategic military base until 1658 when a peace treaty was finally drawn up that stopped the bloody fighting.
It is now a symbol of Kalmar. Gradually it changed from being a medieval castle to a renaissance one. Weddings have been held in its church since 1276 and it is now one of Sweden’s most popular churches to marry in. It is a very lively and active place, from turning into a children’s castle in the summer, to hosting a beautiful Christmas market in the winter. There are also concerts held there as well as ghost tours. It is now the best preserved renaissance castle in the Nordic countries, after being extensively renovated in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Castle’s, their history, and the lifestyle of its past inhabitants generally intrigue children and set their imaginations racing. Our three were no different, as they marvelled at the size of the building and rooms, and imagined what it would be like to live in Kalmar Slott. There were certain rooms (for example the kitchen and great dining hall), set up as if it was being used now which immediately grabbed the children’s attention. There were interactive screens that the children (and us) could use to find out a lot more about what we were seeing. The information boards were so informative (and in English too so we could understand more).
Although everything in the castle was really well laid out and made the experience of visiting it good, there were a few areas that stood out. One was the women’s prison. The graphic picture display of the punishments, and the scribbles on the walls where the beds were, made this a very vivid part of the castle to visit. There were also displays of old robes and gowns which you could get up close to (not encased in glass) and this made the experience of seeing them more visceral. There is something about artefacts not being shut away behind glass, although don’t get me wrong, I do understand why they are! Ongoing discoveries are still being made in the grounds as well. In 2015 a burial ground was found of 10 adults and children that they think were buried between 1470-1520. They think there will be more. They were carefully excavating an area when we visited, discovering yet more building foundations.
After we had finished with the delights of the castle, we headed to one of the nearby (2 minute walk) gorgeous beaches to enjoy the view of the castle whilst playing in the sand and swimming in the sea. It really is set in a beautiful location.