Kalmar Castle

Today I took my first real look around a real castle. I had dinner at a castle in Uppsala a few years ago, but I never got to look around. The only other castle I had been in was Cinderella's castle in Disneyland.

It turns out a real castle is a lot different than that.

A foggy view of a real castle
Kalmar castle has a very long history, starting in the 1100s and in use as a royal residence all the way into the 18th century (as far as I understood it). It was really interesting to see the models of all the different phases of building, and the way different kings changed the castles.

What surprised me about it though was that the castle was far more than a royal residence. Of course I assumed it would have outbuildings and servants and stables and kitchens, etc., but I did not expect that castles were also prisons.

Kalmar castle's interpretative text and set up makes this use of the castle very apparent. There are only two rooms visible to the public which they cannot enter, one is the woman's prison, and the other is the maximum security room for the men's prison. The dungeon, though not visible, was very disturbingly described. There was also a photo exhibition adjacent to the woman's prison, where a photographer had women pose in the punishment practices known historically from Sweden. The black and white photos were accompanied by black and white text describing how it was all done; it was an uncomfortable and upsetting experience.

Me in Agda's room
It also made me think more about another room up on the top floor of the castle, a room visitors could partially enter but not completely (the only one so situated). That was the room of the consort of Duke Erik, Agda, with whom he had two children. After he was made king, she was "married off" to someone else. It occurred to me she was in a sort of prison too, and that by choosing to display Agda's room as it would have looked in her life, even though she was only a part of the castle for a few years, was a specific statement on a point of the curator's of the castle.

Like the fact that the "kings stairs" and the "queens stairs" in the castle are made from the slabs taken from tombstones.

Here is not the king and queen of fairytales, but kings and queens obsessed with punishment, death, control, and protecting themselves.

Give me a house in the suburbs instead of a castle any day.


Jon Frimann said…
I did see Sønderborg castle when I was living there. But I did not enter it. I don't think it was open. But I was too broke anyway too afford the entry fee if it was open anyway.
Jon Frimann said…
Ég afsaka að hafa ekki skrifað á íslensku. Ég er kominn með allavegna fjögur eða fimm tungumál í gangi hjá mér.

Það er Íslenska, Enska, Danska, Franska, Þýska og Spænska, Portúgalska er í athugun hjá mér.

Þetta á það til að rugla mig örlítið stundum.

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