I am actually not sure why Halmstad got the honour when this fabulous sculpture by Carl Milles was created. It was finished in 1926 and now stands in the middle of the main square where you can study it from all angles (but it is hard to get good photos). It is of course based on the Greek legend where Zeus, disguised as a bull, kidnappes Princess Europa. If you look at the sculptures surrounding Zeus and Europa there is no way you can miss that it is a Milles with his typical distorted faces, similar to Poseidon in Gothenburg and others.
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).
The castle is one of the first things you come across in the centre if you walk from the railway and is instantly welcoming with its wonderful rich red colour. Originally, there was a large farm on the site which the County governor bought as his residence but then he also needed somewhere to entertain the Danish king Christian IV when he was in town, and bought out the remaining properties on the site and had the castle built in the form of four buildings centred around an inner courtyard. It is designed by a Flemish architect called Hans van Stenwinkel from Antwerp since the then Dutch style was very much in fashion in Denmark at the time. Van Stenwinkel also worked with Tycho Brahe, the astronomer, on Ven so it is thought he was well scholed in mathematics and such that came in handy. The king's residence was the southernmost building which you cannot visit today, but you can visit the eastern building next to the river which houses the tourist office but which also has a small (free) exhibition on Christian IV and the general history of Halland with a timeline which is quite fun if you read Swedish and can see the comments on the modern years. When Halmstad became Swedish in 1645, the Swedish governor of Halland of course made it his residence. Behind the castle is one of the better parts of the city ramparts still standing.
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.
This impressive gate is the only one left of Halmstad's old city gates. It is also the one with the most impressive ramparts still surrounding it. Walk through it and marvel at the fact that the main road ran through here up until the 1950s! In fact it even had Halmstad's first traffic lights at one stage and the thin gate must have been quite congested. The reason the gate is at a funny angle to the main street itself is so the enemy wouldn't be able to shoot into the city. Halmstad got its defense system in the early 17th century but then never used it for very long once the wars with Denmark came to an end and it quickly became old fashioned. Norre Port itself was finished in 1601 and in the 1870s the town council wanted to tear it down but one man thankfully resisted and in 2007 it has finally been made a listed building. It might not be the prettiest city gate in the world but we really are not spoilt for choice in Sweden and it is a great part of Halmstad.
The Halmstad branch of the county museum of Halland is set in a great park along the river and was specially built in 1933 after a Ragnar Hjort drawing. It shows you a bit about Halland's history as you would expect. There are pictures and information from old Halmstad and notably a section on the Danish-Swedish wars raging here since Halland is an oblong county with just a short distance from Halmstad to the Swedish border in those days and the Swedes kept attacking. There is also a floor dedicated to local art, especially the Halmstad Group which introduced surrealism to Sweden, and I even found a painting by my mum's old colleague's famous father :))). If you want to see much more of them, you should head to the tiny village of Mjällby to the north where there is a museum about the group.
Halmstad's city library has to be seen simply for its architecture. Where else do you have a library practically IN a river. It opened in 2006 and the architect company is Schmid, Hammer & Lassen from Århus in Danmark which was also responsible for the new Copenhagen library known as the Black diamond. Inside the library you can appreciate its light and also of course read papers from all over the world as well as check your e-mail.
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
Follow a hike called 'Prins Bertil led' 'Prince Bertil trail'
This trail will let you see the best of Halmstad, the sea and nature surrounding Halmstad. Pack your backpack and enjoy the view. Bring coffe and food with you along with swimsuites.
Start in the morning and finish in the evening by taking a evening swim in the sea by the beach and take the bus back to your hotel.
The heart of Halmstad is this 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.
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.