There are a few buildings in the village that are worth mentioning and one of these is the Callanderska Gården. It is not only a house with a history, it also is a little museum (opened only during the summer months). The original house was destroyed during the big fire of Mariefred in 1682, but it was luckily rebuild. In 1947 this buidling was donated by the Sofia Nordwäger-Callander, to the local history society. The yard contains of several old buildings and a lovely old garden, filled with spices. In the little museum you can see how life was like for a dyer from the 17th century.
If you follow the Kyrkogatan and turn left you will get to the main square of Mariefred, called Rådhustorget (Town Hall Square). And as the name already says it, this square is dominated by the Town Hall. The Town Hall was built on the initiative of King Gustav III in 1784. The large stylish yellow building is nice to look at, but for me the most remarkable details are the two dormer windows on the roof, with their unusual round shape (see the third photo).
If you like you can go inside the building as this is actually the location for the local tourist office. During the summer months (from 1st June - 31st August) the tourist office is open from Monday to Saturday 10:00 - 18:00 and on Sundays 11:00 - 18:00. In Maj: from 11:00 - 15:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. And in the first half of September: Mondays to Fridays 10:00 - 15:00; Saturdays and Sundays 11:00 - 15:00. During the rest of the year the tourist office can only reached by phone: tel. 0159-297 90.
Mariefred itself is maybe nothing spectacular, but I found it such a picturesque place, it is absolutely worth a visit! Its most famous attraction is Gripsholm Castle, but even without Gripsholm Castle I would go here for just a nice stroll and look around the little village. I really love the nice little streets with all the wooden houses of this village. In the photos you can see first of all a summer view taken from Gripsholm Castle towards the village and secondly a winter photo from almost the same location. And as Mariefred is very much a rural little village, I wanted to include a picture of the local delicacies as well.
But Mariefred is not only a lovely little town, it has a bit of history as well:
It all began in 1370 when Jonsson Grip started building the castle of Gripsholm. The village of Mariefred has got his name from an even earlier date, in the tenth century, when there was a monastery at this place called "Pax Mariae", which means in Swedish "Marias Fred" ( Mary's Peace). In 1493, the then ruler av Gripsholm Castle, Sten Sture the Elder, founded a new monastery "Monasterium Pacis Mariae". In 1605 Mariefred got city rights from Karl IX. But enough of the short history, let's start exploring Mariefred!
Gripsholm castle is situated at the lake Mälaren and it has a wonderful surroundings. There are more then 4000 portrait paintings of different persons and many kings of course among them. The National Museum in Stockholm is responsible for all the paintings. You can go on a guided tour around the castle and it takes usually an hour. I took the last guided tour 2008 and I was the only visitor. That felt strange, but I got a lot of information from the guide.
There are four towers and you will visit them.
The Tower of Vasa was usually only a place where the royal family was and slept.
The Tower of theatare also called the Tower of the Church, was a defending tower and also a place for people to sleep.
The tower of Prison was a prison for Johan III and many other royal people and from the highest families.
The tower of Grip was a defending tower and also a prison.
The steam train was not 'home' when I was at the train station, so instead this picture of an old loc that was standing here. But if you like you can go on a little trip with the old steam train from Mariefred. The railway is rather special as it is a 600 mm gauge railway.
A really nice daytrip would make their "Mariefred roundtrip", which is a combination of getting by boat to Mariefred from Stockholm (see next tip), spend a few hours at Stockholm and Gripsholm Castle and end the day with a ride on the historical train from Mariefred to Läggesta, from where you can hop on the normal high speed train from the Swedish Railway back to Stockholm. This tour can only be done during the summer time and you can find more about the rates and times on the website of the ÖSJ.
You are now almost back at the beginning of the little walk through Mariefred. From the town pump take a turn to the left, into the Nygatan, and you will automatically end up at the train station of Mariefred. This little train station is a lovely place to see. It looks so picturesque and for me it felt like stepping back in time. And well, I actually did! This is not just a train station, this is also a little museum. But more about that later.
The station building of Mariefred dates back to 1894, as part of the Södermanland Railway from Läggesta to Mariefred. The line was closed in 1964, ending the use of this little train station. Luckily the track got a second chance when the ÖSJ (Östra Södermanlands Järnväg) took over the line and transformed it to a 600mm gauge line. The historical trainstation was restored again and brought back to life as a vintage steam train station.
But not only on the inside is a little museum, the whole area of the train station itself has turned into a living museum. They've placed several historical object around the train station, like an old lamp post on the train platform next to to the tracks, and also this old fashioned phone booth. I had never seen anything like it before, so of course I had to take a picture of it. It is an old fashioned one, but it seemed to be on the right spot here in Mariefred. This little village has this old-time feeling written all over it.
At the trainstation I also spotted this fun clock! It is not like the usual ones that I know, because this one counts to 24! So funny :-) When writing down a time in Holland (and Sweden) we often use this system of 24 hours in a day instead of AM and PM. But I never saw it on a clock before! So great!
The whole building is mainly build in Jugendstil, mainly noticeable by the proportions of the steep roofs, towers and pinnacles. To get the building back to its original charm the station had extensive maintenance projects between 1985 and 1993, and it really paid off. Beside the architecture of this train station, I loved all the little details, like this type of old fashioned advertising (see photos). We used to have the same type of signs in Holland as well. But not anymore though, these are things of the past. But I still love to spot them on these unexpected places, like this old train station in Mariefred.
And well, who can't resist taking a stop at the Bryggargården?? Unfortunately it isn't a "Brewers yard" anymore as the name in Swedish suggests, but now in use as a normal house. The house was built in 1783 and the sign that you can see in the first photo is a copy of the original sign of a 17th century brewer' sign. The house isn't so spectacular, I guess the history attached to it makes it worth mentioning. You can find this yellow coloured house on the corner of Långgatan and Djurgårdsgatan. Take a left turn from the corner at the Kungshuset mentioned in the tip above and follow the Djurgårdsgatan until the next crossing.