By just taking a walk, the bus or a ferry to the island of Djurgården,
you can see the warship Vasa, from the 17th century, at the Vasa Museum.
The Vasa Museum is Scandinavia's most visited museum. There is also a permanent
exhibit, a cinema, a shop and restaurant.
The Vasa warship was built by Henrik Hybertsson, ordered by King Gustavus
Adolphus, and ready to sail in 1628. It was to be the the largest warship
in the world. On August 10 the Vasa was to be launched on its maiden voyage.
In front of spectators, many foreign, the ship began to heel over after
only a few minutes of sailing. Water rushed into the gunports and the
ship sank! 30 to 50 people, of the 150 onboard, drowned.
King Gustavus Adolphus, who had been in Poland at the time, responded
that the guilty parties had to be punished. As it turned out, no one was
condemned for the disaster and it was found that the ship had been badly
proportioned. The Vasa had been built with two gun decks with heavy artillery
on both, when normally lighter artillery should have been placed on the
It wasnt until 1961, 333 years later, that the Vasa was brought
to the surface again, after 5 years of salvage work. Anders Franzén
had found the Vasa in 1956 and was able to obtain support for the idea
of salvaging the ship. In 1962 a temporary museum was opened - the Vasavarvet.
The Vasa is the biggest single object that has ever been preserved. In
1990 the new Vasa Museum was inaugurated.
Not only the ship was salvaged but so were the 700 sculptures and ornaments
that decorated the ship. Just like the Vasa's hull, the sculptures are
now a dark brown due to their time in the water and the conservation process.
Yet, experts are trying to find out exactly how the sculptures were painted.
Coming to see the Vasa, and visiting the museum, will enhance your appreciation
of ship building and Swedens history. It is a national treasure
and has become a national monument.
Total length including bow-sprit - 69 metres
Length of the hull - 61 metres
Length of the hull between prow and stern - 47.5 metres
Maximum width - 11.7 metres
From keel to the top of the main mast - 52.5 metres
Height of the stern - 19.3 metres
1,275 square metres
No. of sails
10 - of which six have been preserved (the oldest sails in the world)
64 guns, including:
24-pounders - 48
3-pounders - 8
1-pounders - 2
Mortars - 6
445 men, including: Seamen - 145
Soldiers - 300 (not on board when the Vasa sank)