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Entering Öland

ÖlandsbronWe took a bus from Stockholm's central station to Kalmar on the mainland and then rejoined our hosts Lotta and Bo for a visit to the island of Öland, where they have a holiday house. Access to the island is via the bridge shown in the photo to the left. The Öland Bridge (Ölandsbron) connects Kalmar to Färjestaden on the island of Öland to its east. At 6,072 meters (19,921 ft) long, it is one of the longest in Europe.  It is supported by 156 pillars, and has a characteristic hump at its western end which was created to provide a vertical clearance of 36 m for shipping. An impressive sight and a stylish way to enter Färjestaden.

Färjestaden Hamn:
Harbor MapFärjestaden HarborFärjestaden Hamn is the harbor on Öland that is directly across from Kalmar, and those not wishing to take the bridge across may do so from the mainland to this harbor. On weekends it is the site of a large market, which we visited with our hosts on the last day of our stay. The photo to the left shows a map of the harbor area, while the photo to the right offers a glimpse of the harbor. Visible in the photo is the ferry from Kalmar to Färjestaden.

Our Trip Through South Öland
Given the constraints of time and logistics, our visit was focused on Södra Öland or the southern portion of the island. It is a summer holiday spot and the population dwindles drastically in the winter months. Bo and Dale took a day trip across the south, beginning at the southernmost tip.

ånge Jan:
Lange JanLånge Jan ("Tall John") is a Swedish lighthouse located at the south cape of Öland in the Baltic Sea. It is a companion lighthouse to Erik, located at the northern end of the island. The lighthouse was built in 1785, by Russian prisoners of war. The tower was built of stone from an old chapel. Originally the light was an open fire, and the tower was unpainted. It was painted white in 1845, and the same year the tower's lantern was installed, a colza oil lamp. A couple of years later a black band was added to the tower. The lighthouse remains in use and is remote-controlled by the Swedish Maritime Administration in Norrköping. During the summer season it is possible to climb the tower, for a small fee. The buildings surrounding the tower form the Ottenby birding station.Worth visiting is the Naturum, a small building containing dioramas and information about the birds that can be seen here. Just below the lighthouse is a Vindskyddet or lean-to, a shelter from which you may watch the birds or the seals sunning themselves (when possible) on the rocky beach. These are shown in the panorama below.
Långe Jan and Ottenby Birding Center

To view a full screen version, click here

Karl X Gustafs Mur:
Karl Gustaf MurTraveling north from Långe Jan we passed through an area reserved for grazing sheep and cattle until arriving at Karl X Gustafs Mur, a stone wall that seals off the southern tip of the island. The somewhat strange-looking structure was built in 1653 at the behest of King Karl X Gustaf, and it was designed as a clear mark to show everyone where the royal territory began. For its construction the tax farmers on the island were forced to perform community service, as well as prisoners whose sentences had been converted into compulsory labor. It was once the hunting preserve of the king, and those who poached were severely punished. In fact, according to Bo, dogs in the area had to have one leg severed, lest they chase  the king's game. After passing through this gate at a central point on the island, the terrain gives way to savannah-like grassland that is a feature of the central area of Södra Öland.

Stora Alvaret:
Stora AlvaretStora Alvaret is an alvar, a barren limestone terrace in the southern half of the island of Öland. It is a dagger-shaped expanse almost 40 kilometres (25 mi) long and about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) at the widest north end. The area of this formation exceeds 260 square kilometres (100 sq mi), making it the largest such expanse in Europe and comprising over one fourth of the land area of the island. Because of the thin soil mantle and high ph levels, a great assortment of vegetation is found, including numerous rare species. Stora Alvaret is not devoid of trees, contrary to a common misconception; in fact, it holds a variety of sparse stunted trees akin to a pygmy forest. Stora Alvaret falls within UNESCO's Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland, and was designated World Heritage site due to its extraordinary biodiversity and prehistory.

Eketorp Borg:
Eketorp FortressLocated on the Stora Alvaret, Eketorp Borg is an Iron Age fort which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and later a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. Below is a YouTube video of the fortress and below that our virtual tour of Eketorp, which highlight some of its more interesting features.

Video of Eketorp Fortress

A Virtual Tour of Ektorp Borg

To view a full screen version, click here

äsgård Harbor:
SmørrebrødFollowing our visit to Eketorp Borg, it was time for a bit of lunch. Bo drove to Gräsgård Harbor, where we dined on open-faced sandwiches of fish (I believe they are called smørrebrød, although I do not know the variety of fish used) and admired the view of the harbor.  Our repast is shown in the photo to the left, while the views of the harbor may be seen in the panorama below. A fitting end to our afternoon of sightseeing.

Panorama of Gräsgård Harbor

To view a full screen version, click here
Resmo Kyrkan:
Resmo Progression
Resmo KyrkanResmo GraveyardResmo Kyrkan is Sweden's oldest preserved church in continous existence, dating from the first millenium. The panel above shows its progression from a humble church around 1000 C.E. to its present form, shown in the photo at the upper left. The church itself is surrounded on two sides by gravesites, but the burial site itself dates from Pre-christian times (photo at the upper right). The Resmo Church was the creation of a Viking chief, Sveinu, who most likely encountered Christianity and converted during his travels, bringing the faith to Resmo. He replaced the existing wooden church with one fashioned from stone. Given its atypical construction, it is likely that Sveinu brought Danish or Northern German craftsmen with him, as the architecture of the original church was not native to Sweden. The church is entered through the porch at the ground floor of the tower; access originally required three locks for access—one from each warden and the
resident priest. The interior of the church is open, although originally it was only dimly lit Resmo kyrka Interiorowing to the small windows (photo, middle Harvest Altarleft). To the left of the entrance is the Harvest Altar, donated in 2006 by the artist's family as an expression of thanks for God's bountiful gifts (photo, middle right). Moving toward the front, there is a pulpit to the left, in the the place of the medieval altar (photo bottom left).  On the opposite side, where  the baptismal font stands, was yet another altar. The dove above the font is a reminder of the promise of baptism.  A triumphal crucifix stands in between the nave and the quire. On the walls are paintings including Jesus being arrested and brought before Pilate. Passing the transept and entering the quire leads to the altar, which is as old as the church itself.  It is usually decorated with communion silver from the 18th and 18th centuries. The apse features Christ in Resmo PulpitGlory. In his right hand, Christ Resmo Baptismal Fontholds a book and in his left hand a spire with a cross; the mural is from the early 12th century and was influenced by Eastern Christian icon tradition. The cruxifix, altar and apse are shown in the table of photos below

Resmo Crucifix
Resmo Altar Crucifix
Triumphal Cruxifix
Resmo Kyrkan Altar
Christ in Glory

The Capellagården School
Capella Garden SignGardensThe town of Vickleby is the site of a private crafts college founded in the late 1950s by Carl Malmsten, who had a great vision: he bought a number of decaying farmhouses on the island and replanted them here. He transformed these buildings into a living community with student houses, workshops, and studios. He wanted to design furniture and utensils that paid tribute to old Swedish traditions and the "forms of nature." Today the college is a training school for cabinet making, woodworking, ceramics, textiles, design, and horticulture. It also has one of Sweden's largest herb gardens, containing a wide variety of unusual plants. During the summer, the college stages exhibitions and Kitchen Dining RoomWoodworkingsales in the old Vickleby school. We toured the portions of the Capella school that were operating in midsummer, taking a look at their handicrafts. Entering through the garden, there was a profusing of flowering plants as well as a well-laid out garden explaining the design and the flora it contained. This is shown in the photo at the upper right. From there we went to the kitchen and dining room area and met the director of the school (photo, middle left). In an adjacent wing of the same building we were able to observe the woodworking and furniture design school, shown in the photo at the middle right. Moving across the courtyard outside this main building, we found the outdoor kiln used
KilnShopby the ceramics school (pictured in the photo at the bottom left). From there we wandered back through the gardens to visit the shop where the handicrafts were on display (photo at bottom right). Below is a video which provides a more extensive overview of the Capella School.


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