We live in a time period that is not auspicious for travelling at all. However, until things get back to normal, we have to make the best out of this situation and start adapting to the new travelling era. As such, even though I lived in Malmö for so many years now, I still wanted to enjoy the city as when I first came here five years ago. That is because I believe we can still travel in our own countries, regions or cities and find hidden spots that we might have missed or experience different sceneries with other lenses. We can still be amazed by our beautiful surroundings that we, in our daily lives, start to miss out. That is why I wanted to revisit Malmö, walk on its old city centre streets, feel like a first-time tourist again and get immersed in the wonderful historical feeling that surrounds the third largest city in Sweden.
The beginning of the journey
Usually tourists that visit Malmö are most likely coming straight from Copenhagen by train as it only takes 30 minutes. I believe now the border is closed for traveling and I am not sure when the Danish government will reopen it. Anyway, I still chose the central station as my starting point just to re-enact the feeling of traveling. Taking my camera with me, I was ready and prepared to feel like a tourist. Talking seriously here, I don’t want to hide the fact that I was maybe the only person visiting the city, especially on a warm sunny day, when usually Malmö is packed with tourists. However now, it was only the locals that were conducting their daily errands and teenagers enjoying a warm sunny day (maybe too warm for Sweden – not that I’m complaining) under a perfect clear-blue sky.
Check out other activities in Malmö:
Malmö: The Large Square (Stortorget)
Walking straight from the central station and across the bridge, that was built in 1914, I ended up in the so called “Stortorget” (Large Square) of the old city centre. The Square is surrounded by buildings from all sides, while three main elements stand out from the crowd: the statute of king Karl X Gustav, the one who conquered Skåne from the Danish rule, a peculiar fountain and the most impressive buildings of them all: the old town-hall. Can you image this square was created almost 500 years ago, in 1540? Back then it was used as a marketplace, being the largest one in Malmö. Today, different festivals take place in the square, offering a combination of our contemporary life with the historical past of the city. It is amazing to imagine how many generations made use of this square in one way or the other: from buying/selling of goods to the city council being run from this town-hall and nowadays people enjoying a “fika” (Swedish term for coffee and something sweet) at the coffee places around the square.
A fun fact that I want to add about the old town hall (built 1544-1547): the city council of Malmö still meets there once a month to discuss the different plans surrounding the budget and what should be achieved for the bettering of the society.
Going back and, looking closely at the fountain, I noticed how it was surrounded by windy constructions built out of a metal that I couldn’t identify. In the middle stood a young boy, having a monkey on his arm, which led me to think he was representing either a merchant from the past, or a jester at the king’s court. Either one of them, it showed Malmö’s historical past. I would love to know what you think he represents?
Malmö: The Lejon Passage (Lejonpassagen)
Further down the old town-hall I saw the oldest pharmacy in Malmö: the Lejon Apotek. Going inside, I felt like visiting an alchemy shop from the past. Where the healer keeps all sorts of plants and herbs in vials, having them methodically organised in same-sized cabinets. These cabinets surround the whole area of the pharmacy going from the ground floor to a higher level. I was imagining how people used to come here for cures and the healers would search carefully in all those cabinets for the needed plants. Nowadays, the pharmacy combines the old with the new, whereby the architecture and cabinets belong to the past, while new medicine fills them up.
Right next to the pharmacy, I discovered a hidden passage, I say hidden because I was unaware of its existence until today. Going in, a cold breeze of wind embraced me and I was so thankful for it as I was melting outside that day. The architecture of the passage, together with the buildings surrounding it offered me the feeling as though I entered a foreign realm. On the ground there were black and white tiles and not a regular pavement, and inside I even found a restaurant / bar where one could sit and enjoy the view. The passage leads the way to a street where I noticed the oldest church in Malmö: Saint Peter Church (St Petri Kyrka).
Malmö: St Peter Church
I have seen a few impressive churches in my life, visiting countries such as Spain or Italy. But this church had a different feeling to it. From the outside, one could see the grandeur and massive construction that was built around 1380. It is not only the oldest church in Malmö, but also the oldest brick construction in the city, built in gothic style. Looking at it from afar, I could comprehend the entire structure with its cross-shaped figure. It emanates such a simplicity and modesty, that is not found in the churches from other latin countries. Its facade is plain, without any other additions other than regular bricks.
I found this clean view again in the interior of the church, where after entering through its immense doors, I distinguished only few elements exhaling grandiosity. The first striking object was the altar that seized my glance at once. It is filled with statuettes and pictures of God, the Virgin Mary and other saints or angels, all confined by golden colours on a dark-green painted oak wood. It is also one of the largest altarpieces of the Nordic countries. The other element is the pulpit, erected in the same style as the altar.
The feeling I got from being inside the church was of reassurance. I didn’t feel as though I am in a museum, but rather in a spiritual place. Its simplicity made my mind clear and more focused on my thoughts.
Exploring the church a bit further on, I discovered that parts of the ground were covered in gravestones, where different names and years were encrypted, some even from the 16th and even in the German language. My first thought was that only important and nobel people had been buried there, as usually that was the case in the past. Nowadays, the graves are empty, with only the gravestones as a reminder of the people that had crossed the gates into the other world.
Last but not least
The story will continue in the next part (II) where I will show you other hidden streets, historical architecture and buildings and the little square of Malmö. There is so much to say about Malmö and the feeling you get while being here that a simple blog post is not enough.
Until next time, S.