Kalmar Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Kalmar Castle

Kalmar, Kalmar lan, Sweden

Kalmar Castle is a fortified castle in Sweden which dates back to the twelfth century.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Kalmar Castle

Kalmar Castle or ‘Kalmar Slott’ is a medieval castle whose history dates back to the twelfth century. Originally only made up of a lone fortified tower, Kalmar Castle developed over time to become an imposing stronghold and castle.

Kalmar Castle history

A defence tower was built on the site where Kalmar Castle now stands around 1180. The tower’s purpose was to protect the area from attacks by pirates and other enemies. By the beginning of the 1200s, Kalmar was established as a city.

Kalmar Castle played an important role in Swedish history and was the site at which the Union of Kalmar was signed in 1397.Queen Margareta was the mastermind behind the union which unified Sweden, Norway and Denmark through a common monarch and common foreign policy. The union also worked as a counterweight to the German Hanseatic League. With the coronation of Gustav Vasa in Sweden in 1523, the union was formally dissolved.

In the 16th century Kalmar Castle was expanded and renovated in the hands of Kings Erik XIV and Johan III, monarchs of the House of Vasa, giving it a Renaissance feel it still has today. Both Erik XIV and Johan III hired artists and carpenters from Europe to modernise the castle architecture and decorations.

During the Kalmar War, governor Krister Some gave up the castle to the Danes on 3 August 1611. He was branded a traitor and according to tradition, his face is the one engraved on the staircase before the eastern section of the castle. The Danes held the castle until 1613. After the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658, the castle was no longer needed to protect the old border and it lost its strategic location. It was therefore no longer needed for military defence. Royal visits became increasingly rare and the grand halls were used for other purposes. There were prison cells and even a distillery.

Kalmar Castle today

Today, fully restored to its original glory, Kalmar Castle is a popular tourist attraction and is even a wedding venue. The castle displays a variety of exhibits, including permanent exhibits that tell the dramatic history of the castle, but also temporary exhibitions with different themes. there are also interactive touch screens where you find some 400 texts, anecdotes, and stories. The texts are written in Swedish, English and German.

Getting to Kalmar Castle

The castle’s address is Kungsgatan 1, 392 33 Kalmar. The castle is a 10 minute drive from Kalmar Öland Airport. From the train station, the castle is a 10 minute walk.

Featured In

Medieval Castles in Europe

The landscapes of Europe are littered with medieval strongholds, built centuries ago to defend regions and people of great importance. Here are 15 of the continent's most incredible castles to visit.

Sweden Historic Sites

Dive into Nordic history, from the imposing Kalmar Castle to the fascinating Vasa Museum and more, with this guide to the 10 best historic sites in Sweden.