Woke up to another glorious day to celebrate Heather’s birthday.
We first explored the small town of Borgholm, the main town on the island. It is charming town with a splendid church dominating its main square. It also had a love bakery where we had morning coffee and cake (well it was someone’s birthday!) in the sunshine.
There are two main attractions just outside the town Borgholm Slott and Solliden Park. Our first stop was the Borgholm Slott. This magnificent castle ruin (no we are no talking about Tony!) sits high on a hill outside Borgholm.
The original fortress was built on the site in the 12th century. During the 13th to 15th century additions and changes were made with new towers and a new and thicker wall. Due to the continued conflicts between Demark and Sweden the castle got damaged several times. During the 16th century the royal Swedish kings invested huge sums of money in Borgholm repairing and reconstructing the castle into a renaissance castle. After further conflicts between the Swedes and the Danes in the Kalmar war during the 17th century the badly damaged castle was turned into a magnificent baroque palace on the orders of King Charles X Gustav. The work started in 1654 but was not completed until 1709
Due to the extravagances of the kings the palace was unable to be maintained and fell into decay finally turned into a ruin in 1806 by a fire.
We enjoyed exploring the ruin. It was huge, one of the largest we had ever seen. It must have been magnificent in its day but at what cost. In the small museum within the castle we learnt how the Swedish kings between the mid-16th century until 1801 had scant regard for the local population on Öland. When the King visited the peasants were forced to give up their livestock and food to feed the King and his entourage. In addition a major part of the island was decreed the royal hunting ground. The local peasants were forbidden from hunting, their weapons confiscated and they could only own three legged dogs who could not hunt the King’s game.
Our next stop nearby was Solliden Park. This is the present Swedish royal family’s summer residence. Although the Italianate Villa built in 1903 for the Swedish Queen Victoria (great grandmother) was not open to the public we were able to visit the formal gardens. There was also an interesting exhibition on the royal kitchens with some interesting recipes. Heather particularly liked the recipe for the King Oscar cake (Tried it a few days later and it was good).
An excellent day.