The first open-air museum in the world

    Skansen (= “The Fort” in Swedish) on the Djurgården island in the middle of Stockholm is the first open-air museum in the world, founded in 1891. It has had great influence on the character of the large number of open-air museums around the globe that have been opened since its foundation. In some languages, particularly in Eastern Europe, the word “skansen” is used synonymously with “open-air museum”. A large part of Skansen lies on relatively high ground (one of the entrances is best reached by cable car), giving visitors many scenic spots with beautiful views overlooking the city and waterways of Stockholm.

A park with a view -- and a zoo

    Outwardly Skansen looks like a large wooded park-like area, where the farmsteads and houses are placed in natural settings. They cover a historical time-span of 600 years (the oldest building is the 14th century Vastveitloftet from Norway, the newest two allotment-garden cottages from the 1920’s), even if the majority of houses are from the 18th and 19th century. The open-air museum is additionally combined with the Skansen Zoo, showing predominantly Nordic animals. There are altogether some 70 wild and domestic species.

    The open-air museum exhibits some 150 historical farm-houses and other buildings, which were moved to Skansen from different parts of Sweden and Norway. (At the time when Skansen was founded, Sweden and Norway formed a joint monarchy under the Crown of Sweden -- the Swedish-Norwegian Union. Later Norway grew dissatisfied with the Union and seceded in 1905, electing its own King.). Visitors to the houses and farmsteads are met by hosts and hostesses in period costume, who sometimes demonstrate domestic occupations from bygone days, such as weaving and spinning.

Where the natives celebrate

    For native Stockholmers the main attraction and function of Skansen is as a beautiful site for recreation and celebration. Almost all traditional Swedish holidays, from New Years Eve in wintertime to the Midsummer festivities and various national occasions in summertime, are celebrated by large crowds at Skansen. The area has a number of restaurants, traditional as well as modern. Concerts with a wide repertoire, ranging from rock and folk to opera and classics, are arranged almost daily. A very popular initiative is a series of weekly TV-broadcast sing-along song concerts. They have been held for several decades in late summer, drawing tens of thousands of Stockholmers to Skansen.


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