Vaxholm Fortress

We took an outing last week in the archipelago. Our original plan was to take a boat to one of the islands in the outer archipelago (Finnhamn). Unfortunately, the boat we were on had mechanical issues and we had to disembark at Vaxholm. We had actually just been in Vaxholm a couple of weeks ago. But instead of bemoaning our bad luck with the boat or waiting for a replacement boat to arrive, we decided to turn lemons into lemonade and do something in Vaxholm which we had never done before... visit the Vaxholm Fortress (Vaxholms Kastell). Kind of silly that I have never actually visited the fortress considering how many times I have been to Vaxholm. 

Vaxholm is a small town located in the central part of the archipelago and a hub for boat traffic, as most boats have to pass by the town when travelling between Stockholm and the outer archipelago (and beyond into the Baltic). Obviously, this means that the town has historically been of great strategic importance in the defense of the city... especially against Sweden's historical archenemies: Denmark and Russia. There has, therefore, been a fortress, of some kind, guarding this waterway since 1548. In fact, Stockholm was saved from invading forces twice when the Danes were stopped here in 1612 and the Russians in 1719. The current structure was built in the mid 1800's.

You can't miss the fortress if you visit Vaxholm (or even if you travel out by boat to the archipelago). It is an imposing, stone structure with 2+ meter thick walls, located just on the other side of the channel from the town. The channel is only about 200 meters wide and there is a small cable ferry which takes visitors back and forth between the town and the fortress. It departs every 15 minutes and the trip only takes 2 minutes. 

Cable ferry to the fortress

Once there, you can just enjoy a walk along the walls (taking in the views) and in the courtyard. There is a restaurant in the courtyard if you wish for lunch or some refreshments. You can also choose to visit the Vaxholm Fortress Museum to learn more about the history of the fortress and the (naval) defense of Stockholm through history. The information on display in the museum is in Swedish, but you can pick up an English guide/translation at the entrance.  

Vaxholm Fortress Museum

The fortress is a nice mini excursion to do when you are visiting Vaxholm, especially if you are interested in history in general and military history in particular. There are regular ferries travelling between Stockholm and Vaxholm with the trip just taking 1-1½ hours each way. You can either use the Strömma or Waxholmsbolaget. Otherwise, you can also drive or take a bus as Vaxholm is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Click here for information about visiting the town.


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