An unforgettable stop in Stockholm, Sweden is the Vasa museum, which was on our must-do list this summer when we visited Stockholm. This busy museum is home to one of Stockholm’s main attractions— the perfectly preserved 17th century warship Vasa, which sank on its maiden voyage right out of the Stockholm shipyard on August 10, 1628.
Work commenced on the Vasa in 1626. Commissioned by Swedish King Gustav II Adolph, the Dutch master shipwright Henrik Hybertsson was tasked with building the Vasa, which was to have two gun decks—a sign of Sweden’s growing naval power. Henrik died a year later and his assistant, Hein Jacobsson completed the task. Unfortunately the ship’s beam was too narrow to support two decks of cannon, causing the Vasa to be top heavy and unseaworthy.
On August 10th, the ship had only sailed a few hundred meters before being hit by two squalls. The first caused the ship to lean, but it righted itself. The second squall caused the ship to list heavily, taking on water through its gun ports and sinking shortly thereafter. Fifty people perished in the sinking with sails set and flags flying. The ship settled at the bottom of the Stockholm harbor, eventually covered in mud and preserving it for over 300 years.
The ship was finally raised in 1961, 95% intact. The reduced salinity of the Baltic Sea kept worms from eating the wood, allowing us to now go back in time and see an actual naval ship from the 1600’s. The ship is so perfect that is doesn’t look real, you think you’re on a movie set for the Pirates of the Caribbean.
The museum has four floors providing multiple views of the Vasa from all angles and contains a number of exhibits on naval life in the 1600’s and items recovered from the Vasa. A hop-on, hop-off boat takes you to the museum and numerous other sights in Stockholm.