In addition to simply strolling through Eksjö’s old town, taking thousands of photos and eating cake, the city has several museums and old merchants’ and early manufacturers’ houses to visit. That’s something I found fascinating in Sweden anyhow (it is not limited to Eksjö, I saw it also in Sigtuna and at the west coast): whole houses with the interior furnishings have been converted into museums in a way that one could believe the residents just went for a walk and will soon be back. These are houses mostly of the turn of the centuries (19th to 20th = end 18xx to early 19xx that is). In Eksjö there is the museum (Museigården, where the first tannery was once located) opposite of the tourist office, and several houses such as Aschanskagården (the first pharmacy of Eksjö and later home of Aschan family, the tanners) and Fornminnersgården (copper smith and other workshops), Forsellskagården (once home of a uniform capper). When I was in Eksjö, it was late afternoon or early morning and the museums and houses were already or still closed, so I didn’t have the chance to visit. But I saw the courtyards and these are already a pleasure to look at. Eksjö’s website has a brochure to download which describes the locations and gives more information of these very interesting points to visit. And make sure to visit Charlotta’s (@sjalen) page about Eksjö. It was her who made me aware of this gem town in this part of Sweden. She has an extensive page with more photos and information than I can give from my some hours only visit.
Eksjö Museum: July&August: Mon-Fri: 11-18, Sun&Sat: 11-15; Sept-June: Tue-Fr: 13-17, Sat&Sun: 11-15; free entry,
Aschanskagården: only open July&August: daily, 13-16; entry: 50 SEK.
This canyon is amazing! I cannot stop to recommend this to anyone interested in hiking and spectacular landscapes. It is not big though, but that does not take the fun away once you are “inside” – you will stop many times and wonder how this all did form. No one really knows, that’s what the leaflet says. I imagined something like a crack due to water and ice expanding in this round rocky hill, but this is of couse bare any knowledge… It is approx. 800 m long, 7-24 m wide and the walls are up to 35 m high (again, says the leaflet). It is fascinating inside, almost as if it is a gigantic natural recycling spot. Trees and rocks once fell into the canyon and are lying there now. Of course no one will remove them, they will eventually find their “destiny”, rot and erode. That’s also why it is absolutely not a good idea to come here with sandals or street shoes. Moss is overgrowing the rocks on the walking path and when it rains it all will turn into a big natural slide. It is also cold inside the canyon, no matter how hot the sunshine outside is. Warm clothes, at least a sweater, is a good idea to carry, in addition to water. That said about the sun, I arrived at the canyon entrance at approx. 11 am (August 2009) and the sun was already high up. This made taking photos quite difficult, too much contrast. Come earlier when you like to get clean and spectacular photos. At 11:30 it became quite full and when I was back at the parking lot, it was jammed with cars where I was almost alone when I arrived. So that’s another advantage of arrving early: it will be silent inside the canyon (no screaming kids and echoing voices) and there won’t be any “hiking jams”. The paths can be quite narrow in places, mainly in the middle section where it is climbing up and down.
There are two cute and lovely local customs in and around the canyon, but these are part of the local custom section. How to get there and path marking is part of the sport section.
Oh, I must mention that when I came home from Sweden and read Glenn’s (@Bwana Brown’s) new page about Canada’s Province of Ontario, I had a deja-vù when I saw his description and photos of Ouimet Canyon. It looks almost the same as Skurugata, but much bigger.
Skurugata (Canyon) on Google Maps
Eksjö’s old town is such a delight to wander around and admire all these beautiful wooden houses. According to the information at the explanatory boards the town grid is almost the same as it was laid out in Medieval times. Most of the wooden houses are (protection) listed buildings. A little river runs through the northern part of the old town with cafes and restaurants to sit outside. This part of the town is almost car free (except for delivery vans and guests of the little hotel) and no parking allowed on the narrow streets. What I also liked was that the shops in these old houses are normal daily shops and no souvenir shops (something that destroyed my perception of Sigtuna). It does not take long to walk through the old town, but it will take longer to make a stop here and there for a coffee or tea and cake or for something to eat. Many of the cafes and restaurants have outside seating. Make sure to look at the little descriptive plaques at many of the houses, and even if they are only in Swedish, they show the date when the house was built.
Diretions to the old town (gamla stan):
From the train station, walk north until you reach the church. That’s the southern end of the old town. Parking is available east of it, just follow the signs for gamla stan. The road leads via a roundabout to the north and then it is near the actual police station. Parking, by the way, is free of charge.
Eksjö old town on Google Maps
At the 1st parking place that I came to, and which seemed to be the closest to the old timbered town that I was coming to Eskjo to see, was a big map and information board with the layout and info of the sights to see.
This was a good map but there is also a handheld map available from the Tourist office which is also shown on the information board map.
The Tourist office was very helpful with pointing out the must sees around the old town, and also great for low priced good quality postcards and interesting other souvenirs, and also loads of brocures and maps for other towns and sights to see in the region and other Swedish regions.
Eksjö having such a strong military history, of course there has to be an army museum and this is today adjacent to the town museum and with the same entry fee. Amongst things you can see are what life was like for the soldiers in their barracks, various uniforms and standars from throughout time and where Sweden or Swedes fought in battles.
The town museum has permanent exhibitions on wooden houses (of course) and also the danger those have faced throughout history with fires raging through town. Local artist Albert Engström gets a corner of the museum and there are also various temporary exhibitions on both general art and local history.
Apart from Aschanska, this town house is the most famous. Would you believe that it was threatened by demolition in 1945 to give way to a department store!?!?! Luckily, the citizens protested and managed to save it, and today the lush yard sees many gatherings in summer when musical evenings and history walks take place here. Its history is one of tradesmen and craftsmen since it lies close to the main hub of town where trade took place.
The "Historical Heritage" yard is also one of the more famous set of wooden buildings in town. The building itself is from at least 1655 and has been used as workshops for coppersmiths until 1910. Since 1923 it is housing the Heritage Museum with bikes, furniture, tools, a copper smithy in its yard and other things such as memories from Eksjö's first cinema and its film posters. There is also a bookbinder in the yard with 19th century machinery. I have more pictures in the travelogue.
The Aschanska House is one of the most famous wooden houses in Eksjö. It was first built as Pukegården in the 16th century and the 18th century saw Eksjö's first pharmacy here, but later it was bought by the wealthy Aschan family (in the 1760s) - a family which influenced the town a lot and lent the house its new name. Today, there is a museum in July and August, where you can visit the Aschan apartments with their magnificent furniture. There are more pictures of it in my travelogue.
One of the most spectacular canyons in Sweden, created during the ice age. It is 800 metres long and 35 metres deep and varies in width. Dress warm for a walk in between the bedrock, deep in the spruce forest. Thanks to the kind people of Sävsjö for this picture.
Hult is a common village name on its own, or ending of village name, in this province (Småland) but this is probably the most famous one as it is where author and artist Albert Engström was born. There is also a good example of a typical old House for the poor here. I am so glad I didn't live when it was used...
Eksjö has a very special church in that its tower has an unusual onion dome. It is visible from several roads approaching Eksjö, making it look an inviting town.