Birka, Sweden’s first city

Tuesday, 21 July 2015 - 04:05 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Museums, Exhibitions, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  3 minutes

Reconstructed Viking houses © Holger.Ellgaard/cc-by-sa-3.0

Reconstructed Viking houses © Holger.Ellgaard/cc-by-sa-3.0

During the Viking Age, Birka, on the island of Björkö (literally: “Birch Island”) in Sweden, was an important trading center which handled goods from Scandinavia as well as Central and Eastern Europe and the Orient. Björkö is located in Lake Mälaren, 30 kilometers west of contemporary Stockholm, in the municipality of Ekerö. The archaeological sites of Birka and Hovgården, on the neighbouring island of Adelsö, make up an archaeological complex which illustrates the elaborate trading networks of Viking Scandinavia and their influence on the subsequent history of Europe. Generally regarded as Sweden’s oldest town, Birka (along with Hovgården) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.

The exact location of Birca was also lost during the centuries, leading to speculation from Swedish historians. However, the island of Björkö was first claimed to have been Birka already about 1450 in the so-called “Chronicle of Sweden” (Prosaiska krönikan):

“And there were three capitals in Sweden two of which were not long away from Uppsala (vpsala). The one was called Sigtuna (siktuna) and the other Birka (birka). Birka was on an island in Lake Mälaren (mälar) that is called Björkö (birköö). The third was in Westgötaland (westergötlandh) and was called Skara (skara).”

Reconstructed Viking ships © Holger.Ellgaard/cc-by-sa-3.0 Map of Birka © Holger.Ellgaard/cc-by-sa-3.0 Reconstructed Viking house © Holger.Ellgaard/cc-by-sa-3.0 Ansgar Cross © Holger.Ellgaard/cc-by-sa-3.0 Ansgar Chapel © Holger.Ellgaard/cc-by-sa-3.0 Reconstructed Viking houses © Holger.Ellgaard/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Reconstructed Viking houses © Holger.Ellgaard/cc-by-sa-3.0
Ownership of Björkö is today mainly in private hands, and used for farming. The settlement site, however is an archaeological site, and a museum has been built nearby for exhibition of finds (mostly replicas), models and reconstructions. It is a popular site to visit during the summer times. The complete collection of archaeological finds from the excavations on Björkö are held by The Swedish History Museum in Stockholm, and many of the artefacts are on display there.

Read more on Ekerö Municipality, Birka Museum, unesco.org – Birka and Hovgården and Wikipedia Birka. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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