April 5, 2017

Skansen! Museum, park, zoo and more.

I had some Concierge business in Skansen the other day (more info about that in an upcoming blog article) and I thought I would take the opportunity to have a wander around and write a new article about the open air museum... especially considering that I haven't written about Skansen itself since one of my first articles way back in 2010. High time for an update!
While Skansen is one of the top attractions in Stockholm, I always find it hard to describe it to visitors in just a few words. This is because Skansen is so many things in one... it is an open-air museum, park, zoo, concert venue and the official place for the celebration of the major holidays in Sweden. It was founded in 1891, making it the world's first open-air museum, and was created by Arthur Hazelius as a way to show what Sweden looked like pre Industrial Age. All this and in a beautiful park setting, with views over Stockholm.
A traditional Sami kåta. 
Hazelius journeyed throughout all of Sweden, purchasing around 150 buildings, which he had shipped in pieces to Stockholm and painstakingly rebuilt in Skansen. These buildings include cottages, farm houses, manors, mills, churches, school houses, homes and even a kåta (traditional tent used by the Sàmi, the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia). These all give visitors a feel for what rural Sweden looked like before 1880. But it is not all rural as Hazelius also managed to bring a whole town block there as well. In this section you can visit many of the types of businesses found in towns during the 1800's, like a tannery, bakery, bank, glasswork, apothecary, smithy, pottery and printers.
Reindeer, wolves, moose, wolverines and more.
Skansen is also Stockholm's zoo. So within the park, among the beautiful houses, you will find a wide variety of Swedish animals... reindeer, moose, wolverines, seals, lynx, otters, wild boar, wolves, bears and more. In Skansen's calendar, you can see when the different feeding times are for some of the animals which is always a fun time to visit (as some can be a bit shy). They also have many traditional breeds of more tame Scandinavian animals like cows, pigs and sheep. Skansen also has an indoor children's zoo, called Lill Skansen, where you can get acquainted more intimately with the many tame Scandinavian animals. Also in the park, albeit with a separate entrance fee, is Skansen Aquarium, which houses more exotic creatures like meerkats, lemurs, snakes, frogs and fish.
If you happen to be in Stockholm during a major holiday, then a visit to Skansen is a must. Skansen is the location of the official and semi official celebrations of these holidays (both Swedish and international). Skansen is where the televised countdown to midnight on New Year's Eve happens, it is where the official celebration of Sweden's national day takes place with the royal family in attendance and where the official Lucia performs. This is where visitors can take part in the Swedish traditions surrounding Christmas, Walpurgis, Midsummer and Easter, including Easter and Christmas markets.
Part of the town neighbourhood.
So, as you can see, a visit to Skansen is a must during any trip to Stockholm. Skansen is also the only attraction in the city that never closes! Many attractions close on major holidays... but not Skansen. It is located on the island of Djurgården, adjacent to many other top attractions like Vasa Museum, ABBA the Museum and Gröna Lund. To get there from the Rival Hotel, it is just a 10 minute trip on the Djurgård ferry from nearby Gamla Stan.

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