In the city of Kalmar you find one of the most important historic castles in Scandinavia. Today the city of Kalmar is a small town in a remote corner of Sweden. In older time the city was much more important than it is today. Up until 1658 the city was a border town between Denmark and Sweden – and the countries were frequently in war with each other – hence the town of Kalmar was fortified with a large castle which should help defend the border.
The castle was built in the 12th century when the area was going through a time of unrest. It was also during this period there was a lot of construction of fortified villages on the nearby island of Öland. Times turned more peaceful as the Swedish royal family managed to consolidate their power in a unified country for the first time during the 12th century and the following century.
In 1397 the castle of Kalmar was the location of one of the most important events in Scandinavian history. Inside the walls of the castle the leading families of Sweden signed the papers creating the Kalmar Union. The Kalmar Union united the three Scandinavian kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden under one common king – the Danish king. Though the king was too young to rule alone hence the true ruler was his mother Margrethe I.
The Kalmar Union is the only time through known history the three kingdoms have ever been united under one ruler. The Kalmar Union was actually the biggest country in Europe by area during the short period it was a union since the Kalmar Union in addition to the three kingdoms consisted of other major land areas including Finland, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Greenland plus some holdings in present day northern Germany and the Orkney and Shetlands Islands.
When you visit the castle today it has been transformed into a museum and one of the important places to see in this museum is the room in which they signed the Kalmar Union back in 1397. The room has the most important items on display you can find. There is a dress of Queen Margrethe I and you also find two important letters. One is the coronation letter of King Erik of Pomeria who was the formal king though Margrethe was the true ruler. The second letter is the letter of the Union of Kalmar.
After the union the castle was used as a border fortress for a while and it was used during wars. In 1611 the Danish army laid siege to the castle in an attempt to conquer the castle and the city. The siege of the castle last almost a month until the castle and the town of Kalmar is conquer by the Danish army. Later Swedish reinforcement arrives from the north and there are renewed battles in the city. The war ends in a draw and a peace treaty is signed between the two countries.
After Denmark lost the possessions south of the castle it lost its significance as a border fortress and parts of the castle was transformed into a women prison in the middle of the 19th century. You can see some of the old beds of the prison and it doesn’t look like it was a pleasant place to spend your time in confinement. The castle is pretty big and it is interesting to go and visit this historic castle – it is one of the true highlights of this part of Sweden.