Almost four hundred years ago, a warship sank on its maiden voyage, right inside the harbour where it was constructed in Stockholm Sweden. It sank into the mud and was left there and forgotten. Now, it resides in a museum.
We visited the Vasa Museum, home to the ship, in Stockholm on our cruise aboard the Viking Sea. Walking into the museum, you’re immediately struck by the size of the resurrected ship; it looks like the Black Pearl of the Pirates of the Caribbean. We wandered up and down stairs and platforms which allows you views of the outside of the ship in all its glory. Each year, a million visitors view the Vasa.
In the early 1600s, Sweden’s King Gustav II Adolf was ready for Sweden to become a naval power and had ordered four identical warships built. The Vasa was the first one finished. The ship was impressive. It had 10 sails, 64 cannons and hundreds of sculptures. It communicated the wealth and power of Sweden. Four hundred and fifty people were needed to run the guns and the ship. There were concerns during the Vasa’s construction about the ship being too narrow and too top heavy, but the King pushed forward.
On August 10, 1628, thousands of spectators gathered to watch the Vasa set sail from Stockholm’s harbor. About 1300 meters from the shipyard, a gust of wind causes the ship to list and water to flood the open and low positioned gun-ports. Yep, it sank and sank fast. Ending up on the ocean floor along with fifteen crew members.
They tried to raise the Vasa, but it was stuck in the mud. Later, in the mid-1600s, they raised most of the cannons using a new invention, the diving bell. But the Vasa continued to sit at the bottom in cold ice water. The exact location was lost in time. In the 1950s, a determined Swede set out to find the battleship. And he did.
In August 1959, the Vasa was lifted and moved in stages. On Monday, April 24, 1961, the Swedish people gathered to see the Vasa appear over the water. The first of its kind to be raised in its entirety. Years passed as they work to dry out the wood and preserve it. In 1990, a museum housing the Vasa opened to the public.
Thanks for reading about our adventures aboard the Viking Sea. This concludes our trip blog series. Back to antiquing!