Fun things to do in Östergötlands Län

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    Läckö castle
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    Läckö castle on Lake Vänem
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Östergötlands Län

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    Rök, Swedens most famous Rune Stone

    by sim1 Updated May 30, 2008

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    Rök is just a tiny dot on the map in the middle of nowhere. A tiny little curvy road brings you to the village. You'll drive through nice open landscape and in the distance you can see a lovely white church. But there is more to Rök than only that. Maybe it is hard to believe, but this little place is famous! Why? It is the village where you can find the most famous of rune stones. The rune stone is called the Rök Stone or in Swedish Rökstenen. It has the longest known runic inscription in stone and it is also considered to be the most beautiful of rune stones.



    You can read much more about this Rune Stone on my Rök page


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    The Rune Stone at Rök

    by sim1 Updated Apr 22, 2006

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    Rune stones are standing stones with runic inscriptions on them dating from the Iron Age (Viking Age) and early Middle Ages found in most parts of Scandinavia. Most stones are put up as memorials for a dead person, like this one at Rök as well. On the stones you can find writing in runic, a distinctive sort of alphabet.

    The rune stone at Rök is extra special because of its inscriptions. No less than 7 different rune types have been used on this stone, which makes it very difficult to decipher. The stone is unique in that it contains a fragment of what is believed to be a lost piece of Norse mythology. It also makes a historical reference to Ostrogothic king Theodoric the Great.

    If you are interested in Vikings, history or Rune Stones, this is a place you might love to visit!


    You can read much more about this Rune Stone on my Rök page


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    From the old to the new times.....

    by sim1 Updated Apr 22, 2006

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    Old and new times go side by side in Rök and for that matter in whole Östergötlands Län. In the field next to the church and the rune stone, stand these modern type wind mills. It is such a sharp contrast with the rune stone.

    These days you see more and more of these wind turbines in Sweden. Although often I can't appreciate the view of them in the open landscapes, I do have to admit that they do have something special at times. They can in a way be rather beautiful against the clear blue sky, like here in the picture.

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    Lake Tåkern

    by sim1 Updated Apr 22, 2006

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    Some of the best times to visit Lake Tåkern would be May/June and September/October. These are the seasons when you can see all the migrating birds passing through this area on their way from and to the warm south. During the autumn passage about 2000 Mute Swans and several thousands of Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Pochards and Coot collect on the lake. The Bean Gees population will build up to an amazing of 20,000 by the mid-October. This must be an amazing site to see. Unfortunately I only visited here during the very early spring, but even this time of year it was full of bird-life.

    During the year about 270 species of bird visit Lake Tåkern and about a 100 species breed here. There are so many species to see that there is no use in naming them. So I like to refer you to this website instead: Lake Tåkern. I also can recommend you to look at this page (birding in south of Sweden). This is a beautiful website (PDF.file) about birdwatching in the south of Sweden in general.


    You can read much more about Lake Tåkern on my Omberg page


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    Tåkern, ideal for birdwatching

    by sim1 Updated Apr 20, 2006

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    After lots of culture it is time for some more nature! And where better to find that then at Lake Tåkern! A bird watchers paradise! Lake Tåkern is a nature reserve and about 5400 hectares big. About half of it is open water and the rest is devided by woodlands, meadows and reedbeds. The aim of the reserve is to protect nature and preserve it for the future, as it is one of the most important nesting and resting places for wetland birds in the country. The area is rather easy to reach with two visiting areas in the south (Glänås and Dagsmosse) and two to the north-eastern part of the lake (Svällinge and Hov). As this a bird protecting area the area is closed during the from 1 April until 30 June, with the exception of specifically marked roads, visiting areas and footpaths.

    In the photo you can see a nicerview over Lake Tåkern, taken from the viewpoint at Omberg.


    you can read more about Lake Tåkern and surrounding area on my Omberg page

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    Vadstena Slott

    by sim1 Updated Apr 20, 2006

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    A total surprise for me during my visit to Vadstena was the Vadstena Slott (slott = castle). Maybe I should confess that I didn't know there was a castle in Vadstena in the first place and seeing this huge castle came almost as a shock. But a good one! It was great to take a nice stroll around the castle, looking at this rather unusual building with its thick walls and picturesque moat.

    The castle was build by King Gustav Vasa in 1545 as a defence again the Danish. It didn't take long though before it was remodelled (in 1555) and made into a residence for the king's son. In 1716 the castle ceased to be a royal palace and got many other uses. It even has been a storhouse for grain! The castle now is partly in use by the provincial records office and parts of it is open to the public. I didn't go in, so I can't tell you how the interior is, but I got the impression that it is rather bare.

    Opening hours:
    2/5 - 31/5: daily 10.00 - 15.00
    1/6 - 30/6: daily 10.00 - 18.00
    1/7 - 31/7 daily 10.00 - 19.00
    1/8 - 13/8: daily 10.00 - 18.00
    14/8 - 31/8: daily 10.00 - 18.00
    1/9 - 30/9: daily 10.00 - 15.00
    1/10 - 30/4: daily 10.00 - 14.00

    Entrance fee:
    50 SEK (around 5,40 euro / 6,65 USD)
    7-15 years 10 SEK



    you can read more about this place on my Vadstena page

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    The Abbey Church at Vadstena

    by sim1 Updated Apr 17, 2006

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    Next to the Vadstena Kloster is the Vadstena Abbey Church. The building of the abbey began around 1369 and it was consecrated in 1430. The church was built by the directions of St.Birgitta, although some alterations were made on her original instructions. The material they used to build this church is blue-grey limestone from Omberg.

    From the outside the church looks a bit boring, but maybe that is also due to the large trees that surround the church and hiding it rather well. But the inside is well worth the look. The whole feel of the church is that it is light and big and there are lots of nice sculptures and art treasures, for example the Saint Birgitta altarlocker and one of Sweden's most beautiful triumphal crucifixes. One of the things that cought my eye and that I loved is this glass stained window depicting St.Birgitta.

    Time hasn't stood still in this church though, lots of changes have been made since the Middle Ages. There used to be a gallery for the nuns, a Mariaaltar , a procession gallery and a barrier that separated the abbey people from ordinary people. In the abbey there were also about sixty altars.



    you can read more about this place on my Vadstena page

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    Impressions of Vadstena Kloster....

    by sim1 Updated Apr 17, 2006

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    Inspired by the light in the photo I wrote a little poem about Vadstena Kloster. A moment of thinking back to my visit to Vadstena and feelings I had by being there. I decided to publish it here so you get some idea of what visiting Vadstena Kloster can be like.



    The long hallway
    Doors on either side
    And then there is that light
    Almost blinding the eye
    And drawing you to the end

    Sounds and images in my head
    I can just imagine them here
    The black dresses
    The hollow echo
    A door closes
    Their silent whispers
    And their ongoing prayers

    This is a place where history was made
    Where history feels so present
    It's all gone now
    But the light is still here
    And the feeling
    Vadstena Convent
    Silence
    Thoughts
    So peaceful


    Impressions of Vadstena Kloster, by Sim1, 2005

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    Vadstena Kloster

    by sim1 Updated Apr 17, 2006

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    The King's Palace was donated to the St.Birgitta in 1346 by king Magnus Eriksson and his queen Blanche for the purpose of building her own convent. St.Birgitta died in Rome in 1373 unable to see the finished work on her Monastery. The monastery is now the final resting place of St.Birgitta. But what is the Vadstena Kloster like these days?

    The Vadstena Kloster has now turned into a museum mainly devoted to the life of St.Birgitta and how life was during her era. They did a lot of work creating this museum and the endresult is a great mix of history, displayed through old artifacts but with help of modern technology. This sounds like a crazy mix, but it is excellently done. The whole gives a lively display of life during that time and a fascinating insight into the life of St.Birgitta. I think this is one of the best museums I visited in Sweden and I can absolutely recommend a visit. You can join a guided tour or explore the place by yourself. Or do like I did, make a good combination of the two.

    Opening hours:
    Late May - middle September, daily 11:00 - 18:00
    Middle of September - Beginning of October: Saturdays and Sundays 1:00 - 16:00

    The entrance fee is 50 SEK (around 6,50 USD / Euro 5,40)
    students 20 SEK and children 0-10 years can get in for free.


    you can read more about this place on my Vadstena page

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    The King's Palace

    by sim1 Updated Apr 17, 2006

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    This is the King's Palace in Vadstena, and at the same time the Vadstena Kloster. Confusing isn't it? Hahaha, I guess a little bit. This building was built around 1250 as a royal palace. And that makes the palace the oldest and best preserved profane (= not belonging to the church) brick building in Sweden! And of course that made me want to see this building for myself.

    But the King's Palace hasn't been in use as a royal palace for ever. The building has had several purposes over the years. It started all of as a royal castle but was donated to the nuns in 1346. After some radical changes in the building (like lowering the roof) it was turned into a monastery: the famous Vadstena Kloster (read more about that in the next tip). The nuns lived in the former palace until 1595. But history doesn't stop there, once again the palace got new 'visitors'. In the seventeenth century the palace was used as a prison and after that as a mental hospital. In the 1950's the hospital got a new location and the Royal Palace was restored to its former glory. The present state is a mixture of the Royal Palace and the old Monastery. The door you can see in the second photo dates back to the times of the Royal Palace.



    you can read more about this place on my Vadstena page

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    Vadstena, what a wonderful surprise!

    by sim1 Updated Apr 16, 2006

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    I visited Vadstena to see the Sancta Birgitta Convent, but what I found was not only that, but much more! Vadstena was a true surprise for me. It is a lovely old town with around 5,500 inhabitants, and in each and every street you can feel history.

    I will highlight a few of its historical places in the next few tips, like the Vadstena Kloster, the Vadstena Slott and the Abbey Church but there is more to see. Like the lovely harbour located at Vadstena Slott and the the town hall from the 15th century, which is Sweden's oldest. I loved to stroll around in the little streets and in many of the little shops you can buy handmade lace from Vadstena.



    you can read more about this place on my Vadstena page

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    St.Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373)

    by sim1 Updated Apr 16, 2006

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    St. Bridget of Sweden / St.Birgitte or in Swedish often called "Den heliga Birgitta" is a name you will come across often when travelling through this area. In many of the places I mentioned previously on this page (Alvastra and Vreta Kloster for instance), St. Birgitte played a role in their history. There is really no escaping the name when travelling here, especially when travelling to the next stop on my trip: Vadstena. And that's why I wanted to share a bit of background information about her. So who is she? And why is she such an important figure?

    Birgitta Birgersdotter was born in 1303 in Sweden in the region of Uppland. She grew up in a family of high nobility and influence. As a thirteen year old, Birgitta married Ulf Gudmarson from Östergötland, a knight, chief judge and council of the realm. Birgitta had eight children.

    Following the death of her husband and in her forties, Birgitta had a series of spiritual revelations (more then 600). Her mission in life was to reunite the church with the meaning of God. Birgitta was not afraid and criticised convents in Sweden and abroad, and reminded the king of his duties. She also became involved in international politics and attempted to negotiate peace between France and England in what would later be called the "Hundred Years War". Birgitta often expressed opinions on political issues. She criticised kings and demanded that the Pope, who was living in Avignon, France, move back to Rome. She also started a convent in Vadstena, but more about that in the next few tips.

    Birgitte died in Rome in 1373. In the year 1391 Birgitte was recognized as a saint and in five years later she was exclaimed the Patron Saint of Sweden. In 1999, the Pope declared Birgitte one of the Patron Saints of Europe.

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    The history of Alvastra Kloster

    by sim1 Updated Apr 16, 2006

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    In my previous tip I gave you a little impression about what Alvastra looks like nowadays, and now it is time to tell a bit more about its history. The monastery was founded by French monks of the influential Cistercian order in 1143. These monks came all the way from Clairvaux in France, bringing modern methods of administration, technology and archaeology to this part of Sweden.

    This part of Sweden played an important role in the development of the Swedish Kingdom during the Middle Ages. This was the home of the powerful Sverker dynasty. Sverker the Older for example has was seen as the ruler of the Swedes at those times. The story goes that the Sverker dynasty bought the land and gave it to the monks to build this very monastery.

    The building material of the monastary is limestone from Omberg, and its architecture is simple, as still clearly can be seen. This simplicity makes sense as it is in accordance with the order's decree against extravagancies. French masters, with the assistance of people from nearby, build the monastery.



    you can read more about Alvastra Kloster on my Omberg page

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    Alvastra Kloster

    by sim1 Updated Apr 16, 2006

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    Just a few steps away from Omberg you can visit the ruins of the Alvastra Kloster (Kloster means "monastery"). And it really is a few steps! So close really that you combine a walk at Omberg with a little detour-walk and visit the ruins at Alvastra at the same time, just like I did. The entrance is for free, so don't miss out on these beautiful ruins.

    Alvastra was Sweden's largest monastery and it dates back to 1143. The monastery was founded by the the influential Cistercian order and it flourished for almost 400 years. After its decay the construction materials were used in the making of Vadstena Castle and Per Brahe's buildings along Lake Vättern. But luckily some of Alvastra Monastery survived and the ruins have been restored and preserved. I found it a fascinating place to explore and I can recommend a visit if you are in the area. You can walk around freely here, having a good look at the architecture of the ruins. There is some information about the ruins available at the site, like for instance a little model showing how the monastery used to look like.



    you can read more about Alvastra Kloster on my Omberg page

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    Kaga church: a little gem!

    by sim1 Updated Apr 16, 2006

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    My original plan was to visit the little church of Risinge, which is famous for its beautiful fresco's. Unfortunately this early in the season (early May) the S:ta Maria Church in Risinge isn't open to the public, so you can imagine my disappointment. But I stumbled upon some good news while doing research for this trip! I discovered that the little church of Kaga was decorated by the same painter as the Risinge church. So without hesitation I added Kaga to my travelplans. And I can say I wasn't disappointed! This church is a little gem!

    the Kaga church was built by King Sverker (d. 1156) on the old pagan cult site of Allguvi. On the outside it is a small white church, quite elegant with it's high tower. On the inside you will be surprised by the painted valves giving this little church a special atmosphere. The church itself dates back to 1156, but most likely there has been a church previous to this one. The present spire was added later to the church, most probably in the 15th century.

    Kaga church and is one of the best preserved churches in Östergötland from the Middle Ages.

    For more information about the Risinge Church take a look at this website (only in Swedish): S:ta Maria Church in Risinge



    you can read more about this little church on my Kaga page

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