When you walk into the Vasa Museet in Stockholm, you’re immediately in awe of the massive wooden ship that stands before you. The whole building of the museum is built around the enormous vessel, and the lighting is dim and dramatic to perserve this delicate giant.
Right after we played around at the Junibacken, the Children’s Museum, we went to Vasa Museet, which is just a short walk away on the island of Djurgarden. We arrived only knowing that this “ship museum” was one of Stockholm’s must-sees. And indeed, it’s hard not to fall in love with very tangible piece of history. But when we learned the story behind both the ship and the museum, we were that much more impressed.
This ship was completed in 1628, with the aim of being one of the world’s most powerful warships to fight Poland. But in her maiden voyage, the Vasa sank only 1300 meters after leaving Stockholm Harbor.
They began trying to raise the ship right away, but it took until 1961 to extract all of the different pieces. Then it took another 17 years to restore the badly damaged ship.
The museum didn’t open until 1990, making it a relatively new tourist attraction but a highly successful one.
This is truly a triumphant story. The Vasa seemed like a epic failure — perhaps history’s worst warship. But now almost 400 years later, it’s being celebrated by people visiting from around the globe. Talk about a classic late bloomer! It’s sort of like an artist who was unappeciated until his death, but I prefer to think of this as the ship’s true purpose in life: a vessel to carry us back to the glory of the sea and the romance of old-world craftmanship.