Kalmar Castle – A Centuries-Old Panorama (History, Travel Tips & Video Tour)

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Nothing matches the panoramic views and natural beauty of Sweden in comparison to Kalmar Castle. Situated by the Baltic Sea in Kalmar city, Sweden–Kalmar Castle is no less than a Disney dream castle that will captivate you with its enchanting towers and rust-colored bricks.

While visiting Sweden, you should definitely add Kalmar Castle to your list of must-visit places, to enjoy an experience that you will remember all your life. Your interest in exploring Kalmar Castle is sure to be piqued, so keep reading, and we will take you through a detailed history of Kalmar Castle in addition to the tips and tricks that will ease your visit to the castle. 

The chapel of the castle is still active, with wedding ceremonies being held there to date.

The entrance view to Kalmar Castle.
The entrance view to Kalmar Castle.
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Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

From Kalmar Tower to Kalmar Castle (12th-14th century)

The history of Kalmar Castle starts out as tower which was constructed during the 12th century during the establishment of Kalmar city. The tower was built as a defense against the pirates from the Karelia and Finland region. The tower also served as a town’s seal, which promoted business and trade in the region in addition to political agreements forming between the Scandinavian countries. In 1397, the Kalmar Union was signed at Kalmar Castle by Nordic politicians, which added to the significance of the castle.

An artistic representation of Kalmar Castle during the 18th century.
An artistic representation of Kalmar Castle during the 18th century. National Library of Norway, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Redecoration of Kalmar Castle into a Renaissance Palace (16th century)

By the end of the 16th century, the tower was expanded and fortified into a residential castle by King Gustav Vasa. Two of Gustav’s sons, Erik XIV and Johan III, resided in the palace. Johan III, during his residency, further expanded and fortified Kalmar Castle. The castle was shaped into a Renaissance building with tall towers, Romanesque-style windows, and a drawbridge was added to the castle. The Vasa kings not only added structural modifications to the castle, but they also modified the interior decorations as well as the furnishing of the castle to match Renaissance aesthetics.

A side view of Kalmar Castle.
A side view of Kalmar Castle. Leon petrosyan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

From Residential Palace to Prison (17th-19th century)

The castle enjoyed its glory as a royal residence until the late seventeenth century, but with the shift of the Swedish frontier, the castle lost its strategic position and no longer remained the seat of royalty. King Charles XI was the last King to visit the castle in the 18th century. The castle remained largely neglected or was used as a prison, distillery, and warehouse by the Swedish crown till the mid-nineteenth century when it re-found its lost strategic position.

The interior of Kalmar Castle chapel.
The interior of Kalmar Castle chapel. Kalmar Castle flickr photo by Maria Eklind shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Reconstruction of Kalmar Castle (19th-20th Century)

The restoration work on Kalmar Castle began in the nineteenth century. In 1856, architect Fredrik Wilhelm Scholander started the reconstruction of Kalmar Castle, his pupil Helgo Zettervall took over and continued the effort into the late 1880s. The second phase of reconstruction began in the 20th century by Martin Olsson, who restored the castle’s moat and drawbridge as well as a major portion of the castle’s flooring.

The fancy dining hall of Kalmar Castle.
The fancy dining hall of Kalmar Castle. Kalmar Castle flickr photo by Maria Eklind shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Current Times

At present, Kalmar Castle is known to be one of the best-preserved of Sweden’s castles from the Renaissance period. The existing structure of the castle is the result of the 19th and 20th-century restoration efforts and is open for the public to visit. The castle is a popular tourist spot in Sweden and is also available for hosting weddings. The interior of the castle is preserved as a museum with permanent exhibits of the castle’s artifacts. 

A closer look of Kalmar Castle's structure.
A closer look of Kalmar Castle’s structure.

Interesting Kalmar Castle Facts

  • The Danish bed decorating the Queen’s Suite in Kalmar Castle is the only original surviving piece of the castle’s furnishing.
  • The locks on the door to the King’s Chamber are very elaborate and fascinating as it reflects the constant scrabbles during King Eric XIV’s consideration of the issue of succession, which made him paranoid. 
  • The chapel of the castle is still active, with wedding ceremonies being held there to date.

Visiting Kalmar Castle – Tips and Tricks

If you are anxious to visit the castle but need more information to plan your trip, don’t worry. In this section, you will learn all the basic information, including ticket prices, visiting hours, as well as some needed trips and tricks to plan a perfect and comfortable trip to the castle.

Tourists at Kalmar Castle's courtyard.
Tourists at Kalmar Castle’s courtyard. Kalmar Castle flickr photo by Maria Eklind shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

How to get to Kalmar Castle?

From the Kalmar Öland Airport, the castle is a ten minutes drive. You can also take the line 402 bus, which will take you directly to Kalmar Castle. Taking a taxi from the airport to the castle can cost around 122- 150 Kr ($13-$16 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The visiting hours to visit Kalmar Castle vary by month. From October to April, the castle is open only on weekends from 11 am till 3 pm. During the month of June through August, the castle opens daily from 10 am till 4 pm. 

The general ticket price to visit Kalmar Castle is 80 kr ($8 USD). The guided tours can cost between 95-130 kr ($10- $13 USD) per individual. 

The guided tours are available in different languages, including Swedish, English, and German. In addition, the displayed exhibition consists of interactive touchscreens for self-guided tours where you can learn about the significance of an architect or a piece in history.

Kalmar Castle's view at night.
Kalmar Castle’s view at night. Hstad, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

It can take up to two to three hours to fully tour Kalmar Castle.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • In the central courtyard of Kalmar Castle, check out the canopied dolphin well, which symbolizes the fine craftsmanship of the Renaissance period. 
  • You do not need to pre-reserve your ticket to visit the Kalmar Castle. You can easily buy tickets at the castle’s gift shop. 
  • Adjacent to the gift shop, you can visit the Prisoners’ Tower, Women’s Prison as well as the Governor’s quarters. Make sure you have a look around this structure and witness the grimace that the castle experienced during the 19th century.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Kalmar Castle Areas

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Kainat Khalid
Kainat Khalid
Kainat is an English literature graduate with a profound interest in historical architecture. She has studied and explored the dusted pages of history for years which has ignited her passion to explore the existing remnants of our past glory and revisit them from a revised perspective. “There is no present without the past” is what she believes in and what drove her to begin cataloging these timeless historical monuments.

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