Sweden’s gateway to Europe, Malmö is the country’s third-largest city. It was founded in the mid-13th century. Under Danish rule from 1397 to 1658, Malmö was an important town, but once it was returned to Sweden its position waned until an upturn in its fortunes at the end of the 18th century. Today, thanks largely to the Öresund Bridge and associated development, Malmö is once more in the spotlight. The city has a lively, distinctly European atmosphere and has become a center for contemporary art and design. The old town is centered on Stortorget with its historic town hall and governor’s residence.
POINTS OF INTEREST
ST PETRI KYRKA
In a street behind Stortorget is Malmö’s cathedral, St Petri Kyrka. Built in the 12th century, the church, modeled on St Mary’s in Lübeck, is made from red brick. The high tower, constructed in the late 19th century, after two 15th-century towers collapsed, is prominent in Malmö’s skyline. The church used to contain limestone paintings, removed during a renovation in the mid-19th century. Only the paintings in Krämarkapellet (the Tradesman’s Chapel) are preserved. The cathedral has treasures from the 16th and 17th centuries when Malmö’s prosperity was high. The magnificent 15-m (49-ft) high altar in Renaissance style is beautifully ornamented, painted and gilded. The pulpit dating from 1599 is in sandstone and black limestone. Later additions include the organ front, a masterpiece created to a design approved by Gustav III in 1785. The original medieval organ is said to be one of the oldest working organs in the world and is now in Malmö Museum.
MODERNA MUSEET MALMÖ
The Moderna Museet in Stockholm is one of Europe’s leading museums of modern and contemporary art, and the only one north of Amsterdam with an international collection covering the entire 20th century. In autumn 2009, the Moderna Museet moved to another location, housed in an old power station that was built in 1900. Architecturally striking in its combination of past and present design styles, this gallery hosts rotating exhibitions that range from the Russian avant-garde to contemporary Swedish art.
Malmö Konsthall (Art Hall) is one of Europe’s largest spaces for contemporary art. It arranges and hosts exhibitions with an international focus that ranges from modern classics to current artistic experiments. Past exhibitions have featured the work of such artists as Edvard Munch, Paul Klee, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Keith Haring, Andres Serrano, Louise Bourgeois, Peter Greenaway and Tony Cragg. Associated special events organized by the gallery include theatre performances, films, poetry readings, lectures and debates, as well as extensive educational activities for both children and adults. The Konsthall opened in 1975 and was designed by architect Klas Anshelm with a keen eye for three main elements: flexibility, spaciousness and light.
The City Library moved into the “castle” on Kung Oscars Väg in 1946, but by the 1960s there was talk of expansion. Finally, in 1999, the new state-of-the-art library opened. The famous Danish architect Henning Larsen renovated and extended the old edifice, adding the cylindrical entrance building and the airy Calendar of Light hall. The library offers free access to computer terminals, Wi-Fi and a media collection. Tools for digital needs such as editing, scanning and printing are available in the Learning Centre. The library puts on events for people of all ages and draws almost one million visitors a year.
Originally built by Erik of Pomerania in 1434, the fortress of Malmöhus was largely destroyed as a result of the war. It was rebuilt by Christian III in 1537. Today it is the oldest preserved Scandinavian Renaissance castle in the Nordic region. Originally, it was a fortified royal manor and mint. After the 17th century, the fortress was reinforced with bastions, but it fell into disrepair and through most of the 18th and 19th centuries served as a prison. The solid brick fort is surrounded by a deep moat. Extensive restoration work was carried out in 1932, after which Malmö Museum moved into the building. The museum’s collections cover archaeology, ethnography, the history of art and handicrafts, and zoology. Stadsmuseet (the City Museum) illustrates the history of Malmö and surrounding Skåne with tools, weapons and domestic objects. It contains models, a large textiles collection and an ethnographical collection. The aquarium housed in the Malmö Museum is a popular destination for families and school groups. They come to observe typical marine life from the waters of southern Sweden, as well as tropical fish such as piranhas and the unusual lungfish, which can live without water and hibernate for several years. There are also a jellyfish aquarium, terrariums with snakes and creepy-crawlies and a Nocturnal Hall filled with bats. Some of the rooms in the fortress can also be seen. Another popular attraction is the 18th-century tower with its 7.5-m (25-ft) thick walls and original cannons.
Malmö’s smallest museum, Ebbas Hus, was donated to the city by its owner Ebba Olsson, and now belongs to Malmö Museum. The museum is a tiny terraced house that has been preserved just as it was in the early 20th century. Malmö Museer also runs Teknikens och Sjöfartens Hus, Kommendanthuset and Malmö Konstmuseum, which can all be visited on a single ticket.
In the latter part of the 18th century, the storage buildings in the Malmöhus courtyard had fallen into disrepair and Gustav III ordered the construction of a new armory. It was built outside the fortress in the Bastion Banér and was completed in 1794. By 1814 the fortress’s military days were over and it had become a prison. Kommendanthuset (the Governor’s House) became the quarters first for the prison’s doctor and priest and later the prison governor. In the 20th century, the city of Malmö took over the building and restored it to its original appearance, incorporating it into Malmö Museer. It now houses Fotografins rum, an exhibition hall for photography. It also organizes a number of events and activities aimed at children and young people.
TEKNIKENS OCH SJÖFARTENS HUS
The Museum of Technology and Seafaring is also part of Malmö Museer. Its exhibits cover virtually everything to do with technological development and seafaring, as well as the history of roadbuilding and aviation, engines, and steam engines in particular, just to name a few examples on display. Among the exhibits is the delta-winged fighter plane J35 Draken from the 1960s. The technically curious can satisfy their urge to experiment in the kunskapstivoli interactive test lab. The museum also covers the industrial and seafaring history of Skåne. Here, the star exhibits include experiencing the U3 submarine and the steam launch Schebo. For those who have never been in a submarine, it is an opportunity not to be missed. This exhibit is very popular with children. The shipbuilding and shipping industry and the development of the ports from the 17th century onwards are highlighted, as is ferry traffic, so vital to Skåne. There is also an interactive knowledge park, where you can do your own science experiments.
On the southern edge of Malmö lies Limhamn, a shipping port for lime since the 16th century. Nowadays Limhamn is home to one of southern Sweden’s largest marinas, with spectacular views over the Öresund Bridge. One of Limhamn’s sights is the early-19th century small, blue Soldat-torpet (soldier’s house), which shows how soldiers used to live. The cottage was inhabited until 1956. The Limhamn Museum Society runs various events at Midsummer and Christmas. Another fascinating sight is the disused limestone quarry, a huge gaping hole that is now a nature reserve.
THE ÖRESUND BRIDGE
The idea of a bridge between Sweden and Denmark had been discussed for more than 100 years, but it was only in 1991 that both countries agreed on how and where this dream could be realized. Opened in July 2000, the Öresund Bridge is 8-km (5-mile) long linking Lernacken in Sweden, southwest of Malmö, and the 4-km (2.5-mile) long Danish artificial island of Peberholm, south of Saltholm. The highest part rests on four pylons, 204 m (670 ft) tall and the roadway is around 30 m (100 ft) wide. The E20 runs along the upper level with a railway along the lower level. It is the longest cable-stayed bridge to carry both a railway and motorway. On the west side of Peberholm the link plunges into a 4-km (2.5-mile) long tunnel leading to Copenhagen’s international airport. The journey by train from Malmö to Copenhagen takes 35 minutes.
THE ÖRESUND REGION
As part of the EU’s vision for a Europe without borders, the Öresund Region project aims to integrate southern Skåne in Sweden with the area around Copenhagen in Denmark, allowing people to cross from one country to another without restrictions. The construction of the Öresund Bridge and tunnel has brought with it enormous benefits for Malmö. It has made the region considerably more attractive to business, cultural exchanges between the two countries are easier and the improved communications have brought more visitors. Architect Santiago Calatrava’s stunning Turning Torso tower, in the Western Harbour, is an expression of the region’s faith in the future. Completed in 2005, the 190 m (623 ft) sculptural high rise consists of nine cubes twisting skyward. The Western Harbour waterfront, which has developed into a residential area with offices and services, is internationally recognized as a model for sustainable urban regeneration.