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The Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet)

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 upper deck.

It wasn’t 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 Sweden’s 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
4.8 metres

1,210 tons
Sail area
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)

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