Art in a castle

This morning I woke to rain. Lots of it. It was as if yesterday’s overcast sky had saved it all up during the day just for this morning. I closed the door to the balcony because it was getting wet. I looked at my phone. It was 5am.

Some time later, I once more opened my eyes and the rain had stopped. I got up and made a coffee. It was 7am.

There’s a couple of things lacking in the accommodation I’m staying in. A bottle opener and a teaspoon. I can manage without the spoon, but a bottle opener would be a good deal easier than using the top rung of the Juliet balcony to knock the top off my beer. I vowed to rectify the situation by heading down to ICA first thing. First thing being 9am.

I had no problem finding an opener but teaspoons, there were none. Oh, well.

Tomorrow I’m thinking of going to Gamla Uppsala, which requires a bus trip. The UL app won’t work without a Swedish phone number so I went in search of a UL travel card instead. My search was totally successful.

Another success was finally finding some Swedish food. I returned to Egon for lunch and had skagen vafler. Delicious. As was the beer. But I already knew that.

Having supped sufficiently, I headed off, in search of a museum. Along the way I found a tiny window, at ground level, looking into a little mouse bakery. I wouldn’t have known it was there except a couple of women walking in front of me, spotted, crouched down and took a selfie at it. I had to see what they were recording.

Maybe these little rooms are all over Uppsala. I’m not short enough to know. It’s where Lorna would be so handy to have travelling with me.

Continuing my museum search, I headed across the river and up the hill. Rising up into the sky, I came across the impressive Uppsala cathedral. Three spires it has and, as if to show the pagans that they outlived them, there’s a whole load of rune stones outside. They could almost be paying some strange form of forced homage to the protestant church before them.

Inside, the church is impressive with lots of frescoes and chapels, both celebrating victories of both physical and moral kinds. Well, Christian morals anyway, which are not always the same as real morals.

The cathedral was originally built five kilometres away, on top of an old pagan temple. That was sometime prior to the early 12th century. It was damaged by fire in 1204, and it was decided to move it.

It is said that Eric Jedvardsson, the patron saint of Sweden and one time King Eric IX,  was beheaded, and the second cathedral was built where his head fell. I cannot find any evidence that Eric’s head is somewhere underneath it.

From the church, I realised that the museum I’d been searching for was across the road. I walked around to the front door but, sadly, for me anyway, the museum was closed for renovation.

The building itself, Gustavianum, is the oldest surviving building from the original university, the oldest in Scandinavia. It dates back to around 1620. Obviously, the university was for theological teaching and was built next to the cathedral so the students didn’t have to walk too far but, it very soon started teaching real subjects. This meant more buildings and so the university grew. These days, it has buildings all over Uppsala.

Seeing as the museum wasn’t open, I wandered across to the Carolinaparken (also known as the English Park) where children play and parents watch them from the safety and comfort of various benches. Carolinaparken is one of Sweden’s oldest parks and it’s winding paths through trees and grasses reminds people of the English Landscape Gardening style. It was once just crop filled fields but, in 1805, visionary politicians decided it should be a park. And so it remains today.

In fact, something that impressed me today is the amount of green space in Uppsala. It’s almost like rolling parks. For instance, straight after the English Park, there’s the Botanical Gardens which stretch out below the castle in orderly rows of pine hedges.

The Botanical Garden was the one originally laid out by Olaus Rudbeck (see yesterday’s post). It looks magnificent, particularly from the terraces that lead up to the castle which overlooks it.

However, for me, the highlight of the day was discovering the art gallery. It’s in the castle. The castle built by our old friend, Gustav Vasa. It was built in 1549 and was a royal residence for many years. Most notably, Eric XIV who went a bit doolally and had the Sture family murdered. This crime was justified because there was a lot of war around back then and it had affected the warrior King Eric.

Anyway, today the castle houses modern art and anyone who knows me well, knows how much I love modern art. Actually, there was a wonderful exhibition of textile art, featuring the work of Ingrid Skerfe-Nilsson (1918-2004). Ingrid was an amazing woman who led an incredible life. Her work (and her life) are well worth taking a look at.

Personally, I was quite drawn to a rather frightening depiction of debauchery in the collection. I couldn’t find a label so I can’t credit the artist or give the piece a title but it does feature in a tour called ‘Behold the Man (Ecce Homo)’ which, I think, is surely ironic.

After filling my senses with art, I headed out, stopping briefly beneath Gunilla’s bell which is wrung every Walpurgis Night for the benefit of university students celebrating spring.

Finally, I decided it was time to leave the university environs and headed back to my accommodation. I didn’t get very far. I discovered the wonderful Taps Beer Bar.

Taps has a menu of craft beers behind the bar, from which to choose. I had a couple. I felt it imperative that I did so. They were very different and very nice. I left a happier chap than when I went in.

Eventually, I walked in the door of my third floor apartment and collapsed on the bed. It had been quite a day. I then tested out the bottle opener which worked perfectly.

This entry was posted in Gary's Posts, Sweden 2022 [Gaz]. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.