The Vasa was built in the 1620s to help Sweden wage war against the Polish, and support their war efforts to strenghten their power in the Baltics. Ordered by King Gustavus Adolphus and built by Dutch shipbuilder Henrik Hybertsson, the ship was supposed to be the largest warship in the 17th century world. Novelty on the ship was the two gundecks. This was also to be the downfall of the ship, since it was impossible to carry sufficient counterweight to the guns, masts and sails. The ship capsized and sank in the harbour of Stockholm in 1628 without ever having been to open seas, under the incredulous eyes of Swedes and foreigners on the shores of Stockholms harbour.
For more than 330 years, the wreck remained on the seabed, only to be found in 1956. It took several years to prepare the ship for being lifted, since it had to be prepared carefully. Then, on April 24, 1961, the ship broke surface, and was brought to shore in one piece. It was a historical day in Sweden, where life stopped for a moment as the whole nation was following this event. Many finds were saved as well, and remains of the victims who died in the accident. It took the Swedes decades to make it all into a museum, which finally opened in 1990, 362 years after the Vasa started her fateful voyage. I first saw it before the official opening, in 1989, and was keen on seeing it again.
Now, you just step into a warm museum, purposely built for it, to see the ship. While it seems dark brown, it actually was painted with bright colours after it was built. It is richly decorated with statues depicting gods, figures from Greek mythology, the Bible, and other sources. Walking around the ship (you are not allowed in), soaking in the history of it, and especially the enormous efforts to salvage the ship, makes you quiet in admiration for what man can achieve. The museum is extremely well done, and it is easy to spend hours studying the finds, models, explanations, and the ship itself of course, which can be seen from different levels.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Vasa Museum (Sweden). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Vasa Museum.
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