Monday, February 12, 2007
Gamla Linköping and a Sense of History
It was one year ago this week, during an exploratory trip of meetings and presentations, that I was first introduced to the possibility of coming to Europe to live and work for this season of life. While it wasn’t until July that I finally arrived for good, my memories of this initial trip are never far from my mind. Now, as living in Linköping and Sweden becomes more and more “normal” for me with each passing week, memories of the initial awe and excitement of Europe during that first trip keep me valuing every day I have here. My only previous experience of Europe was continental Europe during a study semester in '93.
As an American, perhaps the most striking element of Europe is its history. Linköping was a city hundreds of years before the first immigrants set sail for the newly-found land across the Atlantic. The Domkyrkan, Linköping’s cultural icon and ever-present reminder of what came before, was under construction in the 1100s! These kinds of historical realities provoke an extraordinary sense of perspective and strangely, a deep sense of connection and indebtedness to those who came before. Americans are compelled by Europe because Europe reminds us of history, our collective history, and this historical awareness brings meaning and identity that we’re often missing in our daily lives. Long live Europe and the wide-eyed traveler in search of history and meaning.
Speaking of history, Gamla Linköping (“Old Linköping”) is a favorite site around here because it’s where this history is preserved for everyone to see. In many cities throughout Sweden, the old town center has been saved and re-located just outside the current city center so no one forgets their roots or from where they came. These outdoor museums open a door to experiencing Sweden the way it was during the 1800s. Your walk back in time is not just a museum to be observed, but an actual town to be experienced with shops and cafes and helpful staff dressed in period attire, though anything beyond food and handcrafts is present in the form of a museum (post-office, bank, school house, chapel, etc.). The wood-carver, lace-maker and pottery house are my favorites, though the chocolate shop is a must-see, as well.
Gamla Linköping is not just a tourist favorite, but locals appreciate what they have as well, especially during the Christmas season when Linköpings Julmarknad (Christmas Market) is held in the Gamla Linköping town square. Come visit, gain a sense of history and connection with the past and see Linköping as it was, but until then you can visit Gamla Linköping online:
Pictures above from Gamla Linköping:
1. Classic Swedish home
2. Traditional Swedish town street
3. Lace Maker shop
4. Just a great collection of Swedish consanants that will make any non-Swedish speaker wince
5. Cloetta's Chocolate Shop