Sunday, April 18, 2010
The King's Folly or the boat who wouldn't float
Before visiting Suomenlinna, I knew nothing about the military conquests of Sweden. The Swedes are so proud of their 200 years of peace (they can thank Finland for that) that you forget their history of expansion and conquest.
The ship Vasa is a monument to the greed and folly of a king, Gustavus Adolphus. He wanted the biggest and the best and he wanted it now! The building of the ship started in 1626 in Stockholm with German artisans supplying the decorative wood carvings inside and out. Gustavus Adolphus was in Poland, but his directions were clear...give me the fanciest, grandest vessel or face royal displeasure. In 1628 the ship took its maiden voyage and promptly sank. The ship was top heavy and had too little ballast. Some people in the lower regions of the ship died, but most survived as the ship sank into the Baltic mud of Stockholm's harbor.
And there Vasa sat. All but 3 of the bronze cannons were salvaged in the 17 th Century and then the ship was forgotten. The 17th century salvage is one amazing act. Then in 1961 the ship's hull was raised. The film of this feat is very interesting.
We visited the ship at the Vasa museet in Stockhom. The museum is on Djurgarden and well worth the visit.