Vasa Museet

The Vasa Museet (Museum) is at the top of the must-see lists for Stockholm. The museum is dedicated to the display of the royal warship Vasa, which sank in 1628. There’s a rather amusing/interesting story behind it though. Apparently the Vasa is the largest wooden vessel ever built for the Swedish royal navy. It was commissioned by the king in 1626 and took two years to build. When it was ready to be launched, the king gave everyone the day off work so they could come see it.

That morning, the ship set sail out of the Stockholm harbor. At about 1 mile out, a stiff wind came up and – much to the dismay of the crowds – capsized the boat! Apparently the design wasn’t very sound – it was far too topheavy! The boat sunk in about 5 minutes in a few hundred feet of water. What an embarrassment!

The ship sat at the bottom of the harbor for over 300 years, and was finally raised in the 1990s. It was amazingly preserved! Apparently the Baltic sea is less salty than other seas, so the wood-eating worms that exist in most oceans don’t do as well in the Baltic, allowing the boat to survive pretty well.

The museum is actually a pretty cool exhibit – you can see the picture above of the Vasa, but you don’t really get a sense of how immense it is until you go to see it. Despite its size, because of the number of people it took to sail it, living conditions were awful. Yes, say it with me folks… SCURVY!!  (You can’t write a post about a viking ship without using scurvy in it somewhere…!)

In any case, the museum is a fanstastic place to spend an hour or two. I just found it somewhat funny that they would choose to exhibit, as their symbol of 17th century warships, a ship that never actually made it out of the harbor 😉


~ by Nathan on July 8, 2007.

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