Saturday, 8 August 2015


The Turning Torso

Malmö is the last port of call on our tour of southern Sweden. There is no town trail, but a helpful young advisor in the Tourist Office near the main railway station gave us a rough circular route. We headed off across a large area of old docks and new buildings towards the wonderful Turning Torso. This extraordinary building by Santiago Calatrava is already ten years old, but remains, at 190m, the tallest in Scandinavia. It was apparently based in a sculpture by the architect.

The view above is the one usually photographed, but the route we took approached the building from behind, from where the supporting structure was more evident. We just loved it.

Part of its function was to replace a giant crane which once dominated the Malmö skyline and to act as a new symbol for the town as it shook off its industrial past.

Just beyond the Turning Torso is a viewpoint towards another constructional marvel: the Öresund Bridge.

The Bridge (as it will ever be known, thanks to the Danish-Swedish crime series) stretches nearly 8 kilometres from the Swedish coast to an artificial island (Peberholm) which lies in the middle of the Öresund strait.This in turn leads to a 4 km underwater tunnel to the Danish island of Amager. It opened in 2000.

We followed a very pleasant walkway along the shoreline and continued in a clockwise direction towards the city centre eventually reaching the Malmöhus, a rather strange-looking 15th century castle, which now houses a museum, having earlier declined into use as a prison and then grain store. The two red structures do indeed look like grain silos, but were built as keeps.

We were delighted to see that a tram route connects the castle to the city.

We headed onwards towards the centre and reached the area of old houses we had been told about. There were some lovely houses in Jakob Nilsgatan. Firstly, this 1900-ish red brick one with art nouveau  details.

And further along the street were the same sort of traditional single-storey houses with flowers outside that we had seen in Lund.

We turned right into Ostindiefarataregatan where we spotted (we could hardly miss it) this wonderful red brick and terracotta house with floral motifs.

We were now on the edge of Lilla Torget, a small square built in the 16th century on one corner of the main square, Stortorget, where we had parked our hire car. (Where else but Sweden could you just drive into a city's main square and park?) There were some nice old timbered houses along one side.

When we reached Stortorget we found it full of people - a Gay Pride march which was about to depart. We were a shade anxious that we might not be able to get the car out and drive to Copenhagen airport in time for our flight home, but we decided to distract ourselves by a visit to St Petri Kyrka, the oldest church in the city. We returned to Lilla Torget and walked along to Ostergarten to enter Stortorget from the other corner. This brought us past this lovely art nouveau gem.

As we reached Stortorget again the last vehicles and marchers were starting to leave so we could relax.

We walked past the superb Town Hall (Radhus) of 1546. We even liked the Dutch Renaissance style exterior which was added in a 19th century restoration.

St Petri Kyrka lay more or less behind the Radhus and was a fine red brick building with the stepped gable of the kind we have become familiar with over the last few days. Inside, it is completely white, having been whitewashed in 1553 during the Reformation to expunge all the distracting fescoes.

Happily, a few remain in one side chapel, and very lovely they are.

Conditions: grey and drizzly at first, becoming gradually brighter.

Distance: about three miles.

Rating: five stars.

Friday, 7 August 2015



We arrived in Lund last night. It is a city of 83,000 people (110, 000 in the built up area), 54 km south of Helsingborg, where we were yesterday. Now we are setting out to follow the "Lund on foot" route acquired from the Tourist office. The starting point is Lund's famous Domkyrkan (cathedral). It was originally built in the early 12th century, but although it looks quite consistent is style it was rebuilt after a fire in the 13th century and restored in the 16th and 19th centuries. Only the apse is absolutely original. The picture above was taken in the early evening.

Inside it is darker than we expected, on account of the massive stone columns supporting the roof, and mostly quite plain. The entrance porch has superb carving, although it appears to be part of the 19th century restoration. One very striking (ha! ha! - the best puns are always unintentional) is the astronomical clock, known as the Horologium mirabile Lundense. It was constructed in 1380, but put into storage in 1837, only being put back in place in 1923. The lower part allows the calculation of movable religious feasts and will need to be updated in 2123.

The large crypt was extremely impressive with its tombs and varied style of column. The most unusual feature was the column with a figure clinging on to it, said to be Finn the Giant.

 Diagonally opposite the cathedral is this lovely building which houses an apothecary's shop.

Across the road from this is an undistinguished 1930s building, which nonetheless has some fine art deco relief sculpture. I especially liked this eagle.

We headed north to begin a lengthy wander through the buildings of the University, established in 1666. The most interesting one was Kungshuset (Kings House). It was built in 1578-84 and became part of the University a century later. The top storey was added in the 19th century.

We were struck by the spaciousness of the university campus and the way spaces flowed into each other. There were no students of course so it all felt very quiet and calm, but apparently the press of bicycles in term time is such that crossing the road is quite hazardous.

We just loved this building on the corner of Biskopsgatan: a "student house" built in 1895 by J H Thomanders. It has all the extravagance of a Victorian almshouse (a particular enthusiasm of mine).

This road led to the lovely Botanical Gardens. The view across the closely planted flowers was a delight.

The buddleia bushes in the background had a fine population of Red Admirals, Peacocks and Painted Ladies. I was quite pleased with this picture of a Red Admiral's underwings, showing much more colour than is commonly noticed.

We had a nice lunch in the cafe by a small, but very pretty, lake.

We set off back towards the centre passing a number of houses, indeed whole streets, with roses and hollyhocks planted outside. It was very charming.

And then we reached Kulturet: an outdoor museum of buildings founded as long ago as 1892. In quite a small space there are a range of fascinating buildings, taken from their original sites, often when they were facing demolition, and rebuilt here. To single out just one, I was especially taken by the church of Bosebo, built of wood in 1652. The free standing bell-tower is not original, but was built in the local style.

Inside there is a lovely wooden pulpit and a decorated altar in a style that could be called Folk Art (i.e. not high art). We went to an interesting exhibition on this at Compton Verney a couple of years ago and spent a good time afterwards debating the definition and boundaries.

We headed back past the cathedral, noting the original apse ...

... and finished our walk in Martenstorget where there is the Food Market and this delightful tall brick house with stepped gables.

Conditions: showery at first and mostly cloudy, but quite warm.

Distance: about 2 and half miles.

Rating: fours stars. The route was a little disappointing in that it was basically a route around all the museums of the city. I suppose this is a valid concept, but personally I am more interested in a city's buildings, parks, statues and the like.

Thursday, 6 August 2015


The Radhus

This post describes a short stroll around Helsingborg, a city on the south west coast of Sweden. Everywhere there were people in traditional dress and the sound of fiddles, pipes and accordions as part of the European Folk Dance festival which was going on around the city. We followed a city walk obtained from the Tourist Office, and started at Statorget, the main square. It is dominated by the Radhus or Town Hall, an imposing neo-gothic building of 1897.

Nearby is the statue of Magnus Stenbock, who led the Swedes in their historic defeat of the Danes in 1710. The Kärnan, of which more later, can be seen in the background.

We headed up the square and turned right towards the Mariakerkan (church of St Mary) a wonderful red brick church of 1410. The stepped gable of the tower, added in the 16th century, was especially impressive.

The interior was plain, although the 15th century altar screen was a wonderful exception.

We then followed Bruksgatan towards the City park. On the left, not remarked by the guide leaflet was this interesting house showing art nouveau influences.

We walked along the side of the park to see Konsul Persson's villa, a pleasantly proportioned house of 1848. It was apparently the first house in the country to have a water closet. 

 Then it was back along a parallel street to then climb the steps up to the Kärnan.  This massive keep, 35m high, was built about 1310 by the King of Denmark (southern Sweden was at that point part of Denmark). After 1710 when the Swedes gained their independence it became no more than a daymark for mariners and gradually decayed into a ruin. It was only restored in 1894, when the battlemented top was added.

We climbed the 146 steps (only half of our recent conquest of the Philippe-le-Bon tower in Dijon). There was a great view from the top across the Oresund towards the Helsingbor (Hamlet's Elsinore), 4 km away in Denmark.

This is actually a terrible picture because the Danish castle is out of shot to the right (I couldn't quite make it out), but it does give a real feeling for the degree of closeness. 

We continued north-east, passing Tychobraheplatsen, where there was a nice monument to the great astronomer and also the lovely Jacob Hansens Hus, the oldest residential building in the city.

At the end, in S Jorgens Plats, there were some nice turn of the 20th century houses.

We now followed Kullagatan, allegedly the first pedestrianised street in Scandinavia, to find our way to Sundstorget, the site of the largest Folk Dance events. This square too was surrounded by some impressive late Victorian buildings. On the opposite side of the square was the Dunkers Kulturhus, an exhibition centre founded by Henry Dunker who made his money in galoshes. This is the side view.

Outside the main entrance were these giant rabbits. Who knows what that was about, but they certainly gave us a chuckle.

Around the back, facing the harbour, more folk dancing was in progress. It was great to see how much the participants seemed to be really enjoying what they were doing.

Finally, I must mention the main exhibition which was on inside the Kulturhus: fashion designs by Bea Szenfeld. The designs were quite over the top as befitted the designer of Lady Gaga's famous meat dress. This was the poster, with a mannequin in the background.

 Conditions: warm and sunny.

Distance: a couple of miles.

Rating: four stars. Interesting and varied.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015


The pilot's hut by Torekov harbour

Today we are on a tour of the Bjäre Peninsular, starting from Vejbystrand, where we are staying with Lars and Kerstin. Our first stop is the the village of Torekov in the extreme west. We gather from Lars that it is popular with the CEO's of Sweden's largest companies and that summer house prices here are extremely high. We park behind the harbour and off to the right is the pleasant beach and a sheltered bay. As our walk yesterday suggested, such bays are rare on this section of coast.

We walked round the small harbour, where the main boat traffic is over to Hallands Väderö, deserted islands where there is nature reserve. To the left of the harbour is the Pilot's Hut, which seems to be a symbol of the village, certainly fridge magnet images of it were available in the Tourist Office, which in Sweden also seems to be a souvenir shop.

We walked along the coast for a while, past this house with its handsome tower rooms and past a sort of jetty where the locals (or possibly the previously mentioned CEOs) come down in their dressing gowns for a swim.

Nearby was a large rock, described as Thora's Rock - legend tells that Thora and her sister and brother were drowned off the coast here by their wicked step-mother. It is said that her body was washed ashore and given a Christian burial by a blind man, who thereupon regained his sight. Soon there was a great view of Hallands Väderö, with a lighthouse on the island to the left.

After a while we turned inland and wondered through the outer streets of the village. We were startled by this creature spotted through the hedge of an otherwise innocuous garden. We would have loved to know how it had got there. 

At the end of this road, a delightful cobbled street ran away towards the coast, with traditional houses on either side.

Soon after we were confronted by this exquisite group of painted cottages. We couldn't judge whether they were old or new. If new, they were very well done.

Now we found ourselves in the centre of the village and realised it was time for ice cream. I resisted that for a moment to investigate what was obviously once the site of a church.

Rather wonderfully, it was all that remained of St Thora's church, which was built in the early middle ages by the previously blind fisherman mentioned above, whose name I now learned was Frenne. This is what it looked like. It was destroyed by a fire which affected a large part of the village in 1858.

The site of the former church was not far from the car park and so it was effectively the end of the walk. I read however that a replacement church of St Thora was built a few years later on the edge of the village and it seemed only right to stop and see it on our way out of the village.

Conditions: warm and sunny.

Distance: about a mile and half.

Rating: four stars. A lovely place.