I usually give musems a miss when I travel because I like to be outdoors, just observing life in the city streets exploring, popping into boutiques or the occasional off-beat gallery, skipping down graffiti-scrawled alleyways, taking photos and walking until I can walk no more and then stopping for tea and a bite to eat in a random cafe.
But on our recent trip to Stockholm, Jorge and I made an exception for Skansen, which was recommended to us by quite a few people before we left. Being the world’s oldest open air museum meant we were walking around in the fresh air of a sunny Summer afternoon and it didn’t actually feel much like a museum at all. It reminded me a bit of Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts.
This little microcosm of Swedish history and culture is on the beautiful island of Djurgården, not far from my favourite place we visited in Stockholm – Rosendals Trädgård.
We spent a few hours one afternoon walking the grounds of Skansen which are set up and lovingly maintained with beautiful gardens and old farmsteads and rural homes that span the 16th – early 20th centuries, before industrialisation took over.
Employees wander around in period costume and in the town center you see silversmiths, shoemakers, tanners, glass-blowers, cornershop owners and bakers selling their goods in shops that look as if nothing has changed in a few hundred years.
There’s also a manor house with rooms set up as if someone had just left them. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos in this area, but it was interesting to see the tiny beds and the sewing machines, the old desks and chairs and tables. There’s a church too, but again no photos allowed.
On one side of the huge property is a zoo, but it’s not what you’d expect. They keep mostly Skandinavian animals on site but they’re placed in areas that are set up to look a bit more like their natural habitats instead of the barren cages that you see in most zoos. There are wolves, lynx, elks, brown bears, goats, sheep, pigs, cows, etc.
We didn’t spend so much time with the animals though. It’s something families with kids would enjoy and we saw quite a few of them, so we carried on walking through the twisting paths until we eventually came to an exit and carried on for a lovely lunch at the stunning Rosendals Trädgård.