Friday, July 20, 2012

Touristing part I – Torpa Castle

My brother is here for a few days on his holiday. To be more exact he’s staying at our inherited house outside town, where we still have “things to do” before selling the place. However, we have decided to do a little bit of touristing as well this time and visit some places in the surrounding area where we haven’t been for a while.

So yesterday we set out to visit a medeival castle about half an hour’s drive from town (in another direction than our house). A very rainy morning yesterday first threatened to dampen our enthusiasm for the plan; but we decided to go anyway, since we would still be able to make the inside tour of the castle, and also have lunch in a café on the premises. And we were lucky - it actually stopped raining before we left town. The day remained cloudy, but we did not get wet, and we were able to walk about a bit outside too.

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Torpa is a well preserved medieval castle at Lake Åsunden (in the province of Västergötland).

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The first stone house was built around 1470 as fortress against the Danes. Reconstruction and remodelling took place during the 1500s and 1600s.

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The castle has a well-preserved Renaissance interior. The chapel, which was decorated in the late 1600s, is in baroque style.

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The castle is best known in history as the manor of the Swedish noble family of Stenbock. It was the residence of Katarina Stenbock (1535-1621) before she became the third and last consort of  King Gustav I (Gustav Vasa) of Sweden (b. 1496, elected king 1523, d. 1560).

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The castle has never been sold but has been passed on through 18 generations by inheritance. As some of the heirs have been women, the family names of the owners have varied though.

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When grand dinner parties were given back in medeival days, they consisted of no less than 60 (!) courses. And you had to eat them all. However, there was a break between every 10 courses, when you were allowed to go outside to throw up to make room for more…

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There are steep, narrow staircases within the walls of the castle; used in the past by the servants (carrying the trays with all that food!), who were not allowed to use the main staircase.

The castle is said to have its own set of ghosts; among them a young girl who was sealed into a small room behind a wall by her father, because she was believed to have caught the plague. A few times through the centuries, attempts have been made to open that wall to check the truth behind the tale. But those who tried to open the wall all had fatal accidents. One cut himself on his tools and caught blood poisoning, another had a heart attack and so on. The last person who decided to try it some 50-60 years or so ago did not die from it – but he did fall and break his foot on the stairs before he could even get started. Since then, no new attempts have been made, and the present owners have decided to let the wall keep its secret, and its legend…

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I’m not really supposed to be able to show you the interior photos included above. However, I’d already taken a few shots before the guide informed us that photography inside wasn’t allowed… And I have to confess I sneaked two or three after the tour too, on my way out. (A photographic variety of cleptomania?) I hope I made up for my transgressions by also buying some costly postcards afterwards! 

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Safely outside, without having fallen down any stairs (or had my camera confiscated)!

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After our tour of the castle, we strolled over to the café/restaurant in another building on the premises (the one on the right), and had a ‘royal’ lunch of venison and potato gratin. Only one plate each, though!

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As Per pointed out, there would not have been any potato gratin on the menu back in the days of King Gustav Vasa. Potatoes weren’t introduced in Sweden until about a century after he died.

Today we’ll be off on another little tourist trip for lunch.

Definitions of Touristing from urbandictionary.com :

Driving slowly or stopping in the middle of the road while looking at the sights.

Walking and paying no attention to anyone else around you while looking at the sights.

14 comments:

  1. Thank you for taking us along on this interesting trip! 18 generations in the same family, that is quite impressive. I guess if I were part of the family, I would still want to know whether there really was a secret behind the wall...

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    1. Ah yes... But would you dare be the one to tear down the wall to satisfy your curiosity? ;) The guide did mention that attempts have also been made with x-ray photography but all that can be said for certain is that there does seem to be some kind of cavity behind that wall...

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    2. Yes, I think I would dare. Curiosity takes people a long way - it even took them to the moon!

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  2. A wonderful place to go and I like the theme you chose. It's very sympathetic.

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    1. Thanks, Adrian. And it's good to see you back in Blogland!

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  3. A very enjoyable tour complete, I'm very happy to see, with some inside pictures. I hope that you have more touristic opportunities to share with us.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, we went on another little trip today, and plan yet another tomorrow. I will be blogging about it later when I'm on my own again.

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  4. Great tour, think that's the first Swedish castle I've seen, never thought of the Danes attacking Sweden.

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    1. The last 200 years have been peaceful :)

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  5. An interesting place, nice photos.
    Enjoy your weekend!

    Eva

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  6. I have missed reading your blog-looks like I have a lot to catch up. I have been missing in action from the blog world-have been in an unproductive mood. I hope I have it back now. Lets see. Love the Swedish countryside and historical buildings.
    Rose-Anne in cold Australia.

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    1. Good to see you "back" Rose-Anne. I've actually been wondering for a while, I have noticed that you've not been blogging for a while.

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  7. That family has obviously taken good care of it's castle over the generations. I think I'd leave the ghost wall alone, more fun to imagine it might be there than know it is not.

    It can be fun playing tourist in your own backyard, can't it? Love the definition of touristing - sounds like me at the best of times. If something takes my attention I forget what's going on around me.

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  8. amazing place, and nothing like that here in America, our old is your new. glad you got the inside shots before the camera police stopped you. i would love to see it

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