One of my favorite parts of travel is seeing and learning about a city’s history, especially when in old cities like Stockholm. I’m not usually much of a museum person, but after hearing about one of the city’s most visited/famous attractions, I knew we couldn’t pass up the Vasa Museum.
If you’re interested in the most famous ship(wreck), Titanic, then the Vasa is definitely something you’ll take interest in! Let’s dive in.
What is Vasa?
In August 1628, all of Stockholm gathered for the maiden voyage of the Vasa ship, which had been commissioned by Sweden’s king a few years earlier. The ship was to act as a “war machine,” to intimidate enemies and inspire allies.
But about 20 minutes after setting sail, the Vasa sank right there in Stockholm’s harbor. Despite all of the great things planned for the ship, it was ultimately too skinny, tall, and top-heavy, resulting in it being unable to withstand the wind.
So, What’s the Big Deal?
In the late 1950s, a Swedish naval engineer located the ship at the bottom of the harbor after spending years of searching for it. And so again, 333 years after the people of Stockholm gathered to see the ship, they gathered once more to watch the ship rise from the depths of the sea. And despite being underwater for centuries, the ship was actually in pretty good shape, thanks to the tolerable conditions of the Baltic Sea (the lack of salt kept the ship from deteriorating quickly)!
After bringing the ship up in 1961, Stockholm decided to build a museum around it, to not only show off a big piece of the city’s history, but also to continue to preserve such an incredibly crafted ship and all that it stood for. And I’m so glad they did! Because honestly, it’s SO fascinating.
The Vasa Museum
We were totally blown away by Stockholm’s Vasa Museum. The ship is now restored to about 98% of its original state – which was nearly 400 years ago! The Vasa sits in the middle of the museum and to say it’s hard to miss is an understatement. It’s HUGE. It’s impossible to even squeeze the entire ship into a single photograph. I honestly felt like an ant standing next to it!
There are 3 levels in the museum, each one offering new exhibits and views of the ship decks. Some of the most interesting (and chilling) being skeletal remains of the people who they likely belonged to (and details on their lives including diet, lifestyle, age, facial reconstruction, sickness, etc.), cannons, personal belongings of those aboard, and what a day in the life of those on board would’ve looked like (if the ship had made it out as planned).
If you find yourself in Stockholm, the Vasa Museum is definitely a place worth squeezing into your itinerary (although you could easily spend hours there)! Tickets run about $16 for adults, $14 for students, and FREE for those under 18.
Do you have a favorite museum that stands out in your memory?