The heart of Halmstad is this large square, dominated by its central fountain and flanked by two buildings with signs of medieval times - St Nicholas church and the restaurant "Three hearts", the former hospital.
An impression of the courtyard of Halmstads Slott, a 17th century castle that was built under the auspices of the Danish king when this part of Sweden was a Danish province. The style is said to be 'Christian IV Renaissance'.
What about a medieval church with nowadays stained glass windows? Looks crazy? No! It's only a matter of taste and quality.
The only unusual event was, when entering, being invited to Camile's wedding.
Sorry, Camile, we were only passing by, not conveniently dressed, and couldn't accept. But, of course, we thank you, and wish you the best luck and happiness
By the river there's a park called Picasso park, where I guessed that would be something from the artist. Well, there is at least one statue, but we didn't have time to find it. The park seems to be a good relaxing area, in the rare days of warm weather.
Europa and the Bull is a famous statue in the fountain in Halmstad’s main square, Stora Torg. The sculpture was created in 1926, in a competiton won by the sculptor Carl Milles, using Greek mythology.
Mandel Karlsson, or 91:an Karlssson is a comic soldier born in Swedish literature. I read nothing about it and were surprise by my friends familiarity with him (I think they were confusing him with Schveik, from Prague).
Anyway, 91 didn't bother, and accepted the company of the portuguese ladies in a couple of familiar photographs.
I noticed that we were not the only ones (we had to line for picture) but the other were Swedish, and those, maybe, some of his real friends.
Hallandsgården is a delightful oasis in Halmstad. Set on Galgberget, the "Gallow Hill", where the last execution happened in the 1850s, there are no traces of this today. Instead, there is since 1925 a gathering of old houses from all over Halland in the form of old crofts, farms and mills here. In high season (mid June to mid August) the buildings are open and have staff in them telling you how people might have lived in them. The small croft with its grass roof housed eight people at most which is incredible when looking at it. The dark brown farmstead is gorgeous and a very special design to save heat. There is also a tiny playground and a cafe here (see tip) and great views down to Halmstad below, and even as far as the Bjäre peninsula in Scania if you see it for all the trees. Best is to climb all the way up to the 19th century viewing tower further up if you have a good camera. It is open summertime only I think.
The hill was not always as forested but that happened in the 19th century and these days, the forest acts as a recreation area for runners. Approaching it from Lilla Torg via the stairs further on gives a great walk through an old part of Halmstad full of cottages with nice gardens. See the travelogue below for many more pictures of Hallandsgården houses and views. If you want to visit Hallandsgården off season, get in contact with the Halmstad museum which runs it. Hallandsgården is also the place for Halmstad's official Midsummer celebrations should you be in town (second pic gives a reminder).
Church in Halmstad within walking distance of the central market square. Inside the church we found a decorated pulpit. The text on the pulpit read 'Ligesom Moses ophojede Slangen...', which puzzled me a bit, but turned out to be a reference to the Gospel of John. Whosoever kept his eye fixed on the (copper effigy of a) snake, upheld by Moses, would not die. See pictures.
Over the years Halmstad has had a lot of players who then have sold to bigger clubs in Europe. The most famous one is without doubt Fredrik Ljungberg, who was a star for Arsenal over a decade. Magnus Svensson, midfielder who played in the World Cup for Sweden in 2002, have been choosen among the best players ever in his norwegian ex-club Viking Stavanger, and Niclas Alexandersson (now in IFK Göteborg) started his career in Allsvenskan for Halmstad, before going on to Göteborg, Sheffield W, Everton and West Ham. Markus Rosenberg, now at Werder Bremen, kickstarted his career during a season on loan at Halmstad.
The latest addition to ex-Halmstadplayers in Europe is midfielder Dusan Djuric, who in the beginning of 2008 was sold to FC Zürich.
The supporters of Halmstad, known as Kvastarna (The Brooms), are among the friendliest in Sweden. They have, as far as I know, never been involved in any fights or other trouble but instead tries to support their team as good as possible.
Their problem is that they are so few, but still they are trying their best to create some atmosphere at Örjans Vall. Something that is hard to do, since it seems to be a tradition in Halmstad to be silent during football games.
It happens way too often during every season that they home supporters must see themselves outsonged by the visiting supporters.
The supporter club was founded in 1995 and has been about the same amount of people since then. They stand in the middle of the second tribune, right under the sitting area.
The future for the club is somewhat in doubt, according to their homepage. News will come during the winter 2008.
Last year they met before the games at the local pizzeria, Gamletulls Pizzeria.
The away supporters in Halmstad have plenty of space, as the whole curva is made for them. Three sections are set up for the away supporters, who most of the time just needs one. IFK Göteborg, AIK and Malmö FF I would say are those who the last years have filled all three sections. And Djurgården of course, when they won the league here 4-5 years ago.
The stadium in Halmstad is said to be one of the most beautiful in the country. With the river Nissan right next door, and green trees all around the stadium I can see the point, but I still can't really see the beauty of it. Would change it for San Siro or Camp Nou eight days a week.
It holds about 16 000 spectators, while there are just about 5000 seats. The standing places aren't the best, so on big matchdays one must come early to get a good view.
The stadium was built in 1922, but has been rebuilt a couple of times after that. Its name "Örjans Vall" it got from the saint Örjan, and that it on the location was a hospital named St Örjans during the middle age.
During the World Cup in Sweden 1958 two games were played at the stadium.
Best seat is on the biggest stand, while also the other tribune is good. But there only the upper part of the stand has seats.
Most of the stadium are therefore for standing spectators. On a normal matchday the crowd isn't so big, so one can sit also on in the curva, but when Halmstad is going well in the league, or are playing IFK Göteborg or Malmö, you might have to stand up there too.
Tickets you can buy through www.ticnet.se, or outside the stadium on matchday. It's very rarely sold out.
Halmstad isn't one of the classic clubs in Swedish football, but close by. Founded in 1914 the club has since won four swedish championships, the latest one back in 2000.
The club is famous for finding young talents from small clubs in the third, fourth, division, make them good football players, and then sell them on to bigger clubs for a lot of money.
Very good for the economy, but worse for the manager and the team who wants to win titles.
In Europe Halmstad has played ten times, the first back in 1976/77, in what later would become the Champions League. Their biggest victory so far though is reaching the group stage of the Uefa cup in 2005/06, after beating the current holders Sporting from Portugal in the qualification round.
In the group stage they lost four games out of four though, with the emberassing goaldifference of 1-12.
In 2007 Halmstad ended 7th in the swedish league. During the winter they have also sold their big star Dusan Djuric to Swiss side FC Zürich.
One of the most famous beach resorts in all Sweden, Tylösand is sometimes nicknamed Sweden's St Tropez, and whilst I certainly agree that the beach is good and so is the nightlife, I guess it is still a bit more relaxed than the real thing. Oh, and water is cooler too - but don't let that stop you from visiting this great village, just less than 10 kilometres outside the city itself and with frequent bus services all days if you don't drive. The beach is loooong so it doesn't feel that crowded even on a busy day but you are sure to find a spot. It has the only lifesavers' school in the Nordic countries so there is a hint of Baywatch in a corner of the beach too, towards the cliffs where you can sunbathe if you don't like sand. Above the dunes is the village itself with several restaurants and then the famous Tylösand Hotel which took off when Tylösand was first discovered for its spa qualities and which has now been altered a lot and expanded into a marvellous spa hotel with several restaurants, partly owned by Per Gessle just so you know what he has done with his Roxette money :) In fact one of the restaurants has loads of Roxette gold records on its walls. Personally, I prefer to sit in Bettans Bar and just sip a beer and look at the sea below. For those of you into golf, there is a famous and very beautiful golf course here too, even hosting Solheim Cup (see tip).
There are several half timbered houses in Halmstad, even if many of the really old ones have been lost in the 19th century city fire. I have not got photos of them all which is why I have bundled them together into one tip for now but you should try to see as many as you can as Halmstad is the northernmost town in Europe with a visible half timbered architecture still left rather than just the odd house. After the 1619 fire, many houses were rebuilt as the impressive half-timbered houses you can now see, such as:
Kirsten Munk's House (Storgatan 32)
Mellgrenska Huset (Klammerdamsgatan 20)
The Picasso Park on the eastern side of the river, has as its main focus a sculpture carried out by the Norwegian artist Carl Nejsar in 1971 but after a model by Picasso which you cannot fail to recognise. The sculpture is known as "Woman's Head" or Kvinnohuvud and Picasso used his wife as model. There is a similar one in Kristinehamn in County Värmland. The park itself is small but nice since you have the river nearby and also lots of people to look at since they often walk past from the nearby bus station. You can rest in a Halmstad variety of the park bench (fourth pic).