Glimmingehus looks rather imposing; a big stone box just sitting on the vast fields of Ystad, Sweden.Whether this well-preserved Medieval structure (the best preserved of its kind in all of Scandinavia) should be called a castle or a fortress is up for debate: it was was meant as a fortress rather than a residence, although it’s not believed that there was ever a battle there. Another source of debate is whether we should be calling the castle/fortress Swedish or Danish because Sweden’s Skane region was part of Denmark when it was built from 1499-1506. But what’s not up for debate is that how family-friendly this attraction is. In a small outer building, across from the castle/fortress, is a playroom full of blocks!
We went to Glimmingehus last July on our first full sightseeing day in Skane, Sweden. We had made the 6-hour drive from Stockholm to stay with our Swedish friend Elisabeth, her husband and their toddler. Our day of sightseeing in the Osterlen region of Skane had begun in the charming fishing village of Kivik, where we had a lovely lunch. Then she brought us to Glimmingehus. Remember I had said that the weather changed constantly when we were in Sweden? Well, look at the stormy skies in the Kivik photos and these gorgeous blue skies. It’s hard to believe they were taken with two hours of each other.
Something else that can change just as quickly as the Swedish weather? The toddlers’ moods. Each family had a toddler, 20 months and 23 months. The toddlers did not really care for the tour of Glimmingehus. They didn’t even want to hear about the moat (which you can see in the top photo) or drawbridge. They didn’t care about false doors or dungeons (probably a good thing). And my toddler totally prevented me from properly hearing the details of story behind the statue of the little man who’s the symbolic caretaker of Glimmingehus. All I remember is that you better treat him with respect or he could put a curse on you.
So what changed the toddlers’ moods? The playroom full of blocks, of course. There must have been hundreds of blocks and they had a lot of fun making towers and then knocking them down. At first, they were just content running around in the Glimmingehus courtyard. But then we explored the little buildings and saw this cool playroom. It’s such a testament to how family-friendly Sweden is; I couldn’t imagine this at a US historic attraction. But when we were in Stockholm, we noticed that most of the attractions had something dedicated to children. For example, the Nordiska Museum had a room full of art supplies where the children could draw.
While the blocks are a nice perk of Glimmingehus, this Swedish (or should we say Danish) castle (or should we say fortress) is a must for any history buff in Southern Sweden. It has been regally appointed to serve as a residence for nobility and, then, in less glamorous times, it was merely an enormous storage space for grain. There are rumors that Glimmingehus is haunted, and I would not be surprised if the noise of block towers being repeatedly demolished has woken up a few of the castle’s previous residents from their deep slumber.