Travels around Skåne

This page hosts a collection of pictures from my trips around Skåne, usually weekend daytrips from Lund, to be regularly updated as I venture out to explore my surroundings. Like much of Europe, Skåne hosts a density of historical sites that is amazing for someone used to the youth of the United States. The complicated medieval and early modern history of this region, both a critical chokepoint for controlling the Baltic Sea trade and the most fertile and densely populated part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, has left even the smallest towns with a ruined castle or ornate cathedral. While the flat terrain does not feature major natural scenery, many small patches are still well maintained as parkland. Even better, with Sweden’s emphasis on public or manual transport, almost anywhere can be reached by bus or bike. Thus, whether world-famous or merely a local curiosity, here is how I’ve spent my weekends while in Lund (to read more on Lund, please see the parent page here).

Soderasen National Park

The largest of the three national parks in Skåne, Soderasen* features cliffs overlooking a densely forested river valley. Though a geological anomaly in this region, it is nonetheless reminiscent of Shenandoah or other parts of the Eastern United States.

Kullen

Though not a national park, the Kullaberg Nature Reserve, or Kullen, is one of the most spectacular sites in Skåne – it is the highest and most western point of the region, overlooking the Øresund strait. My program hosted a retreat here where we coupled exploring the cliffs, beaches, and forests with teambuilding and educational activities. The park features a unique geographic quirk as the site of the micro-nation of Ladonia, consisting of a small patch of land around the impressive but controversial Nimis sculpture.

Malmo

The largest city in Skåne and one of the most diverse cities in Sweden, Malmo is connection point to mainland Europe and the heart of economic life for the region. While more modern than Lund or many of the other cities, it nonetheless maintains the charm of a smaller town, if punctuated by modernist statements such as the Turning Torso skyscraper, the tallest in Scandinavia. While only 15 minutes from Lund by train, I have only gone once to Malmo and thus this section will likely grow.

Bosjokloster/Kristianstad

An organized trip for international students took me to the former convent of Bosjokloster and the historic city of Kristianstad, a tourist destination for its Renaissance Cathedral and innovative urban park, Vattenriket.

Helsingborg Area

Skåne is crossed by the Skåneleden trail, which surrounds the entire region in several sections (it essentially connects all areas listed here). One of these sections runs from Kullen down the western coast to the city of Helsingborg, the second largest city in the region. Helsingborg has a large industrial sector, but nonetheless maintains a historic town center including the medieval Karnen tower. I hiked a section of this trail from the village of Domsten into Helsingborg, passing the Kulla Gunnarstorp estate and Sofiero Palace (the 19th century summer residence of the royal family, world famous for its magnificent botanic gardens). Even close to developed areas, the trail featured isolated beaches, plenty of birdlife, and phenomenal views over the Øresund and Denmark.

Helsingør

Just a short ferry ride away from Helsingborg is the similarly named Helsingor. While in Denmark, Helsingor has a history inextricably linked to that of Skåne. During the years of Danish rule in Skåne, Helsingor and Helsingborg controlled the two sides of the Oresund strait, the chokepoint for Baltic Sea trade. Ships traveling through here were highly taxed (the Sound Dues), making Denmark wealthy enough to build monumental palaces, such as the magnificent Kronborg. While the loss of Skåne limited the strategic value of Helsingor (though it remained a military base into the 20th century), the relics of its heyday still remain, including a number of Renaissance era churches and public buildings, while a novel maritime museum constructed in an old dock preserves its later history as a shipbuilding center. Literature aficionados would better know Helsingor as Elsinore, home of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Kronborg certainly plays upon this connection – though Hamlet himself never existed, it was a popular residence of the Danish royal family during Shakespeare’s time.

*(for Swedish readers, forgive my inconsistency in using accents throughout this section)

Roskilde

Like Helsingør, Roskilde lies on the other side of the Oresund in Denmark. In the days before border closures, it was one of a number of trips I took within the nearby regions of Denmark. While today tied into the Copenhagen metropolitan area, Roskilde has fame in a number of disparate areas. One of the largest Viking settlements in Denmark, Roskilde’s location at the end of a well-defended fjord made it a key trading center. Part of these defenses was a series of Viking vessels sunk to block various channels of the fjord, raised from the seabed and now displayed in a museum that also is a center of modern Viking ship building and sailing. Even into the early Christian era in Denmark Roskilde was an important city, and thus hosted the ecclesiastical powers of Denmark in Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark’s largest and tomb to most of Denmark’s modern royals. Lastly (though not visited in this trip) is the Roskilde Festival, the largest music festival in northern Europe.

Ales Stenar

Atop the cliffs of Sweden’s southern coast sit one of its most ancient and intriguing monuments. Ales Stenar is often considered the “Stonehenge of Sweden”, due both to its structure and mysterious function. A ship-shaped arrangement of standing stones, Ales Stenar’s scale and location have made it a landmark and navigational aid for millennia. Built around 550 AD (predating the Viking era), the 59 boulders of Ales Stenar align with the solstice and were likely an ancient sacred site. Today, they are a popular picnic location and detour from the Skåneleden which traverses the coast towards the medieval town of Ystad.

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