One thing about Sweden is that you can never get far from history, even when you live in a city with one of the largest universities in the country, and with Sweden’s own Silicon valley, a science park of technology companies and in a city with of the most advanced bio energy companies in Europe turning trash into energy source.
Our hometown Linköping was founded in the early 12th century, and it has been a buzzing business town for centuries, and a home for upper education since 1627. A fire destroyed most of the medieval wooden buildings in 1700, but the city was rebuilt to look a lot like what it still is today. The long history of the city is still seen today, and one of the best places to feel, almost relive, the history, is visiting Old Linköping, the Gamla Linköping and Valla recreational area.
Old Linköping was built in the 1950s as an open-air museum, and old buildings were moved from around the city to the Old Linköping area. Most of the houses in the Old Linköping have a sign on the side telling about the original use and the location of the building. The location of Old Linköping is not the original town center (the original town center is still the town center even today, Stora Torget, the big market place downtown), but some of the buildings, particularly around Hunnebergsgatan Street, were restored in their original place. Even the close by neighborhoods where people still live nowadays in the old houses built 100-200 years ago is worth seeing now in their modern restored and renovated beauty. One thing is sure: Old Linköping is unlike most of the regional museums you’ve been to before.
When you walk around Old Linköping, you will see people dressed in the period clothes from hundred years ago, maybe a servant pushing a cart, a police officer watching over the town and saying you God Dag, or Guten Tag, mistaking you as one of the many German tourists in town during summertime.
In the police museum you can see history of Swedish police force, and in the other museums you will see everything from rope, lace and candle making and you’ll see people doing everyday things like washing laundry like it was done hundred years ago. I’ve been in many museums, and most of them show items from olden days but not many in actual working order and working. Like have yo ever seen how the Gutenberg-time printing machines actually work? Or when is the last time you were able to purchase your groceries from a real working country store (not called Cracker Barrel)?
Scandinavian countries are still much less touristy, than what you are used to in the States or even in other regions of Europe (it’s sort of disheartening to see the same exact bag/hat/t-shirt design with text altered in New York, LA, Monte Carlo, Barcelona.. list goes on). Here you can still find gems like Old Linköping, where the tourist shop sell handmade items made locally and the shelves are not filled with souvenirs made in China.
The cobble stone streets, the old houses and the stores showcasing the artisan products here offer such a cultural experience of feeling what Scandinavia is all about. I felt like a little girl all over again, like I was transported into one of Astrid Lindgren’s books and Emil, or Pippi Longstocking, could walk by any minute. I remembered how my grandmother’s friend used to carve wood the same way like in one of the museums, and what the lemonade and meringue tasted when I was a kid.
While I never visited Linköping when I was a child, the Scandinavian heritage and the history that I carry with me is felt in Old Linköping. I now love taking my children there, even if it’s just for an afternoon coffee, fika, like they say in Sweden.
Old Linköping is one of our favorite places to visit, and we have been there several times, and always experienced something new. The best – there is no entrance fee to the area, and even the museums are free to enter. There are many shows and activities that have an entrance fee, for example outdoor summer theater, or go for a horse carriage ride. Our favorite is the mini-golf right by the horse stables on the Valla area.
More information about Galma Linköping: Gamlalinkoping.info
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