From the beautiful blues of archipelagos to the northern lights, Sweden is the ultimate Scandinavian dream for travelers. While browsing about it, you will always stumble upon the busy streets of old town Gamla Stan, the changing of the guards in front of Royal Palace or the lush greens and museets (museums). What often every travelogue misses out is that Sweden is also home to a lot of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. As of 2016, the country has about 15 of them and each has their unique stand in the list. If your main destination is the capital, make sure you reserve one day for visiting these beautiful places that often slips off one’s ‘must visit’ places. Below are three you can easily add to your itinerary while visiting Stockholm.
Engelsberg Ironworks, situated in central Sweden, is the best preserved and most complete example of a Swedish iron-working estate (järnbruk) which produced superior grades of iron back in the 17th to 19th centuries. It is an example of how influential European industrial complexes worked back in times. It takes about 2 hours from Stockholm via car and 3 hours via train to reach this beautiful village of Fagersta. Embedded into the typical Swedish landscape with lakes and forests, it has more the feel of a large picturesque agricultural estate.
(1)Engelsberg Ironworks, Jürgen Howaldt, (2) Slag Stone Towers, Bengt Oberger
On the way from the station to the Ironworks you will cross a fascinating Sculpture Park to explore among the lush along the veins of Synten lake.
Sculpture Park (1) Waterfalls, (2) Glass Pyramid , (3) Three Figures; Source: Itminan Tasneea
Summer should be the ideal time to visit the Ironworks and guided tours can be pre-arranged but the area can be easily visited for free. The premises are now under the Johnson Foundation and can be booked for official programs and stays. If you are a Classical Architecture enthusiast, you can apply for the Engelsberg Summer School in Classical Architecture that takes place for the whole month of July every year. The highlight of this will be the area around the manor house with the clock- tower, two ornamental slag-stone towers and the ironwork’s blast furnace and forge where the water wheel, ore crusher, blowing engine and hammer are all still functioning for demonstration purposes. The original houses around Engelsberg are adorned in the red sediments after the iron production that once indicated wealth and power. The red color is still prominent in all the houses to maintain the tradition.
Dating back over 1,000 years, the mine was at its peak in the 17th century and accounted for 70% of the western world’s copper production. It is one of Sweden's most important industrial monuments and you can spend a whole day exploring the site which is now a museum in 2001 was designated a UNESCO world heritage site.
Falun Mine; Source: Itminan Tasneea
Descending into the depths of the mine’s underground tunnels with your orange raincoat and helmet, guides engage you with captivating stories and legends of the austerities and bravery of the mine’s workers. Above the grounds, the enormous ‘Great Pit’, a prominent result of a subside of 1687, dominates the landscape. In spite of being a mining site, you can still experience stylish Scandinavian design at the site’s newly renovated ‘fika’ café and gift stores that sell beautiful uncut mine stones.
Entrance to Mine Village; Source: Itminan Tasneea
It is 200km from the airport with a comfortable train ride will take you to Falun's center. If you are lucky enough to be visiting the mines in December, you can experience a typical Swedish tradition called Lucia Day, deep down in the Falun Mine’s underground chambers.
Skogskyrkogården (The Woodland Cemetery)
No matter how morbid it may sound, a visit to the Woodland Cemetery will surely have an everlasting impact on your mind. The cemetery is a milestone in modern architectural creation. Its Nordic landscape and exemplary architecture have influenced the design of cemeteries all over the world. Since 1994, it has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz won an international architectural competition for its design and the cemetery was created between 1917 and 1940.
Skogskyrkogården; Source: Itminan Tasneea
Walking through the grounds, one witnesses the fusion of life and death. The towering pine trees live among the buried, watching over the tombstones with an unimaginable depth of comfort.
Unlike any other cemeteries, there is no rigid structure of the layouts but a unison of landscape and tombstones. Standing near the entrance and silhouetted by the sky, is a large dark granite cross which is kept open to interpretations by the architects, who denied its obvious symbolism of Christianity.
The granite Cross, Source: Michael Turtle
There is an operating Crematorium, five funeral chapels and an outdoor ceremony site in the cemetery with around 1,00,000 graves maintained by the family members. The architects’ designed each element (Meditation Grove, Remembrance Garden, Seven Springs Way) to heighten one’s emotional bonding to the demised souls. Every tombstone has a different story and has been personalized with great details. The famous musician Avicii has also been buried in this ground.
Chapel of the Holy Cross, Source: Itminan Tasneea
Child’s Tombstone, Source: Itminan Tasneea
These sites may not be everyone’s cup of tea but are essentials to dig deep into Swedish culture. An additional site to visit would be the majestic Drottningholm Palace in Stockholm which I have already added to my ‘must go’ places for next summer.