The old town of Vaxholm was originally a humble fishing community. There were seven boats of fishermen that worked out of the protected north harbor. They sold most of their catch to the big city, not the local town, but that and more details can be learned at the museum.
The old wooden houses are built on stilts, partially projecting over the water. The interiors are still decorated with the 19th century furniture and memorabilia.
The lower level is the living quarters. The upper level is equipped with tools and labor pieces from the time.
Entrance is free, but donations are appreciated.
The staff working the museum are very friendly and will give you a historical account of the area.
Open June ~ August : Friday, Saturday, Sunday : 11am ~ 4pm
Vaxholm was still a military installation until 2006, when the military pulled out for good.
There were a few small artillery batteries and bunkers protecting the northern slope of the island, where invading forces would first come into sight. Now, the storage bunkers are locked, but the mounds of the battery are still kept clean as part of a park.
Some of the rotary rails and orientation markers for the swiveling guns are still in place.
It is an open air park, open to the public at all times.
As the Stockholm region is so full of castles, not least along Lake Mälaren, I have a hard time visiting them all in the short summer season and Bogesund is still on my to do list. Having said that, it is such a cool building that I think it shall have to be prioritised soon. You can see it sticking up above the treetops here where it is a major landmark for sailors. It has not always had these towers. They were added in 1863-67 by Thor Medelplan when the then owner wanted to extend and renovate. Before that, the castle had been sold and resold a few times since it was built in the 1640s by count Per Brahe, one of the large Swedish-Danish Brahe family until it died out. Brahe had inherited what was originally a major farm by his father and turned it into square castle with a garden. Today it is a listed building since the state took it over in 1949 due to neglect. It can be visited summertime and the whole Bogesund peninsula on the way to Vaxholm by land is a very rural and peaceful place to stroll around.
Vaxholm with its position en route to Stockholm meant it was perfect when it was decided to build a fortress in the archipelago to defend the capital. In 1549 the first structure was built on the little island outside Vaxholm, initiated by King Gustav Vasa. Later it was added to and added to, including stone towers and seaside walls in the 17th century, when the fortress also withstood a Danish attack. After this, things calmed down in the archipelago as Sweden became a great European power and most military events happened elsewhere since the Baltic Sea was more or less Swedish anyway. At this time Vaxholm was only used as a customs island. Then came the loss of Finland in 1809 and in 1838 the fortress was therefore modernised and expanded to look more like what we see today. However, it was already outdated by modern armoury. The armoured ship Hildur was taken to the fortress in 1872 for a trial fire towards the walls and made a huge hole in it. Bigger and bigger ships also meant that the Vaxholm route became too narrow and the previously filled-in Oxdjupet strait (where the huge ferries narrowly turn when going to Finland today) had to be reopened and a defense system built there instead; Oskar-Fredriksborg, which you can see when sailing to Finland.
During the more quiet times in the 18th and early 19th century, the fortress was used as a prison and you can visit the cells today. Much of the rest of the main building facing is Sweden's biggest military museum today, in the form of a naval museum telling you the history of Vaxholm and the archipelago defense, including the Russian attacks on Swedish coastal towns 1719-21 and the early archipelago telegraph system. You can also climb the tower at the other end of the fortress for a good archipelago view if you have the energy (see lots of my tips and travelogue). Should you get hungry, there is a cafe serving lunch dishes and sandwiches. Summertime there are also Astrid Lindgren plays put up and Pippi desolate island prison scenes were shot here.
The lovely town hall today doubles as the tourist office with lots of brochures and other assistance as well as information about the rest of Sweden and a souvenir corner. To be ctd.
Just stroll around the old wooden part of Vaxholm. Let yourself get lost meandering up and down alleys full of lovely cottages. Very romantic on a sunny evening...or winter's day.