David & Diana's Excellent Vacation In Sweden

Monday, July 26, 1999

Diana relaxes on Hans & Anette's balcony just before leaving for the Birka cruise.

Here's our boat for today, the m/s Victoria.

Views from m/s Victoria on Lake Mälaren

By the way, that's a ship in the background. Mälaren is big!!!

The Viking town of Birka was founded around 760 on the island of Björkö. Birka influenced the economy of the entire region. In 829, the Benedictine monk Ansgar came to Birka to convert pagans at the request of the Emperor Louis the Pious. Birka was abandoned about 980 when the new town of Sigtuna was founded. Sigtuna still exists and is the oldest city in Sweden. We'll visit Sigtuna on Wednesday.

The cemeteries on Björkö contain over 3,000 graves. It's the largest Viking Age gravefield in Scandinavia.

The first thing the guide told us was no Vikings lived in Birka. By definition, Viking means "Sea Warrior". They died at sea. The people living in Birka were farmers and merchants. Diana and I like to think that successful Vikings came back to Birka and settled when they tired of life on the road.

No traces of any buildings in Birka are visible above ground. This field was once the center of downtown Birka, a town of around 700 people.

This cross is a monument to Ansgar and is a recent (mid 1800's) addition to Birka. A fort existed here.

Another boat brings tourists to Birka.

You can see an archaeological excavation in this photo.

Diana imitates a Viking lookout.

Rasmus burns off some energy after a picnic lunch before catching the boat back to Stockholm.

Hans ponders his Viking ancestry after ice cream on Björkö while waiting for the m/s Victoria to return.

This is the Stockholm Stadshuset (City Hall) taken from the m/s Victoria just before docking. This will be our destination for tomorrow.

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David & Diana's Excellent Vacation In Sweden

Copyright 1999 David Jones & Diana Hartman
Last revised: November 05, 2005.