Friday, July 10, 2015

Stockholm, Sweden: Vasa Museum

On August 10, 1628, the Vasa was released into Stockholm's harbor. It was a state-of-the-art warship, complete with 64 guns and a 300-man crew. Surely it would be a fearsome sight for opposing forces.

And so it was. For an hour and a half. Then a gust of wind came up and the Vasa started to list. From there, it was straight into the sea. An investigation showed that the boat was built to be far too top-heavy. By the way, the architect was not shot at sunrise the next morning for this, although the idea probably came up.

The boat stayed on the harbor floor for more than 300 years, when it was discovered. From there, the country raised it from the fresh water (a key to the fact that it was well preserved) and started the task of putting it all together again.

And they did it. The Vasa went on display in its own museum in 1990, and quickly became a top tourist attraction. It's the oldest ship of its kind to be so well preserved.

Reading about this is one thing. Seeing it in person is another. I was unprepared for its dramatic structure upon entering the main room. It's amazing to see it. The rest of the museum has exhibits on the ship, including a room that simulates what it was like to be on board below the top desk. (Note: tall people will have to bend a lot.)

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