Going towards north from Malmö in Sweden, you reach Värmland: one of the many Swedish regions where culture, history and nature live together side by side. If you are passionate about history, wanting to know how people used to live back in the days, then this travel story is for you! Von Echstedtska manor is one of those places that makes you feel as though you entered a travel machine and went back in time. To be completely honest with you, I have not expected to find such a well preserved 18th century estate hidden in the fields of Värmland, Sweden. The whole setting and landscape together with the old Swedish manor mesmerizes one without even realizing. It is definitely one of the things to see when passing through Värmland. Keep on reading to find out why 🙂
Reaching Von Echstedtska Manor
The manor is not far away from the youngest city in Sweden – Säffle – making it easily reachable by car. Unfortunately there are no other transportation means available for people that want to visit and don’t have a car. However, I believe that one can include this stop when exploring beautiful Värmland and if you want to go to other natural reservations or small cities, then a car will be the way to go.
So I did and I was not at all disappointed by the landscapes and history that von Echstedtska manor has to offer. This manor lies in a Swedish village, called Smedby, however not surrounded by other houses or constructions. It stands alone on top of a small hill, with vast open fields on each side. One stone gate and nothing else welcomes you into the manor’s grounds. If there wasn’t for the sign outside showing that there is something worth seeing here, no one would have thought that this lonely 18th century historical jewel is open for tourists.
Von Echstedtska Manor grounds
Going through the stone gates, one notices two, probably, former barns, on each side of the path. I didn’t know if one can visit them, but later I found out that you could visit only the manor. Keep going further down the path, you can see two other buildings, standing on opposite side of each other, closer to the manor.
This time one of them operates as a cafe and souvenir shop (you know how it usually is in museums), where even historical-style clothes are sold – probably representing the same time period as when the manor was built – the 18th century. Guess that’s the place to go and buy a masquerade costumes from! And talking about masquerades, the employees of the museum are dressed in 18th century traditional clothes, making one really feel as though they went back in time. The other building that lies on the other side of the cafe was supposedly turned into administration offices, because I saw the employees always going back and forth there.
Higher up in front of these two buildings stands von Echstedtska manor, fully in its former and still present glory. Surrounded by distinctive flowers, its entrance draws one in straight away.
The history of von Echstedtska manor
Going inside, you are greeted by one of the historically-dressed employees, who offers you brochures and plentiful information about the manor and its history. The manor was built between 1762-1764 by Bengt von Echsted, an assessor-title bearing lawyer, and his wife Christina Catharina Herwegh, a wealthy widow of a foundry owner. Why they chose that specific area to build their own house and move to is unknown, as they both were from different parts of Värmland. One interesting fact though about the place, is that it was inhabited long ago, around the stone age, by people, leaving hidden marks behind them. If you pay closer attention to the area maybe you will find the traces they left.
The interior of the manor
One remarkable aspect about the manor are the beautifully decorated interior walls, each room having its own style and motifs behind the paintings. The von Echsted couple hired painters to decorate their interior walls, however until today they remain unknown. Despite that, the French magazine Vogue Decorations featured these walls on their pages, making their art known throughout the world.
Walking through the different rooms you can feel the old that surrounds von Echstedtska manor. The smell of old, the sight of old and the feeling you get here bring you back to a time period long gone. Even though the manor has a modest size, the way it is decorated, the rich information you get from reading the brochures while having each room in sight, makes you forget about time and get lost in its story. Sometimes you can even feel as though fading images of the previous people that inhabited the place walk by, still minding their own daily choirs.
Despite the fact that the furniture is not von Echsted’s original one, it is so well designed and created in the Rococo style that you will not get deceived by this aspect. These furnishings could have been used for sure by the pair almost 300 years ago.
The rooms in more detail
Aged furniture accompanies the already historical scent that the construction shows. In each room, you can find different types of furnishings that describe the previous role these rooms had. You can go through the large saloon, where different parties and events used to take place, imagining how people used to mingle back then.
In the blue-guest room you will find impressive Rococo furniture style, where the bed seems larger than the one from Malmö’s castle.
The child’s room is basic, making one think how much more stuff kids have nowadays.
I saw a bathtub standing in the middle of the wife’s room. However, people rarely used it during that time. They believed that water damages the skin and they only took a bath before major holidays. Imagine the smell people had back then!
The dining room was my favourite of them all! Here you can find an immense space with a large table in the middle, already set for dinner. The cutlery, glasses and plates are perfectly placed, only waiting for the people to start using them.
The kitchen is also an interesting sight, as one can envision how much technology advanced since. Look at this stove! Imagine how long it took to start the fire. How long it took for the food to get ready. And how you had to sit by the stove always taking care of the fire. Could you live in that time period?
Von Echstedtska apple garden
One more thing that you can experience at von Echstedska manor is its garden. Numerous species of apples trees, flowers and plants surround the manor. One can walk freely around, explore the diverse vegetation and at the same time choose a ripe apple from the ground or tree to eat. You will only enjoy the beautiful scenery, sitting by one of the many tables, contemplating how von Echsted and his wife used to live here. What can I say, the landscape is just serene!
Is von Echstedtska manor worth visiting?
I would say definitely yes if you want to explore Sweden and especially the region Värmland. If you ever come to Karlstad or other cities around Värmland, this place makes a perfect one-day trip. I would even call it a trip in time.
Until next time, stay safe!