Visby- Ruins and Roses

Trip Start Jul 12, 2009
1
9
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Trip End Jul 26, 2009


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Flag of Sweden  , Gotland,
Tuesday, July 21, 2009


We woke up to sunny, cloudless skies on a day that was a touch on the hot side. I was pleased to learn that somewhere between Nynäshamn the previous afternoon and the hostel this morning I had lost my hairbrush. Having long, frizzy hair and no hairbrush is a bad combination for me. After breakfast we made a special stop at Åléns to pick up a brush that I desperately needed.

We wandered down to the tourist information and made our tenative plans for the day. We started at the library and from there made our down Strandvägen to a new corner of the wall surrounding the city that they have opened up to let people climb on top of. It was a short walk from tourist information and along the way we got some really nice views of Almedalen and the ocean. It wasn't so much climbing along the wall as climbing up to a look out spot, but it did show some really nice views of the city, including the cathedral and the botanical garden (Botaniska trädgården).

The Botanical Garden was amazing, elaborating on the fact that Visby is the "city of roses". It was very fragrant, and despite the large crowd of people there, very relaxing. Even though it would never happen, it would be nice to be able to walk through there alone. Towards the exit of the Botanical Garden was where I satrted to get really excited. Just sitting in the garden was one of the other things that gives Visby its name, a ruin. S:t Olof is small and almost completely hidden by trees in the corner of the Botanical Garden. It was a little on the small side, and a part of the feeling of it was kind of ruined by the fact that the people at the botanical garden were using it for storage of chairs and other yard-working equipment. 

From here we were within a short walk to most of the other ruins in town. After making a couple wrong turns we found ourselves at S:t Drottens ruin, and this one was one that was open to the public to wander around in. There were a large group of people wandering around inside when we arrived, but they passed through very quickly and soon we had the place to ourselves. It was hard to imagine the former glory of this place, I was very interested to see what it would have been like when the walls were full and the place had a celing. It seemed really strange walking around in there, you could just touch everything, there were barely any blockades and there were no signs telling you what you could and couldn't do. There were even old decorative peices just lying on the ground, just waiting to be picked up and taken away. The most surprising thing was that there were actually unblocked staircases, so you could climb up scarily narrow, steep stairs and around inside the ruin. This particular staircase lead to part of the roof, and on the way down I was thankfull that the walls were narrow, it was nice to have something to grab onto as you tried to shuffle down the stairs.

Right across the street from S:t Drottens was S:t Lars, another ruin of similar size to S:t Drottens. This one had a little bit more of a roof to it, and there was much more space to wander around off the ground up in the higher parts of the ruin. It was very quiet in there, a surprising lack of people considering how many tourists there seemed to be wandering around the town.

After stopping for some quick ice-cream, we made our way over to S:ta Katarina, the most popular of the ruins in Visby. It also seemed to be the biggest of the ruins that we had been into so far. It was very cool, filled with tons of people and almost completely missing its room. There were a couple of little side rooms, one blocked off and filled with piles of peices of old parts of the decorations that used to hang, and another room what had a mix of picture stones, both leaned up against the wall and still imbedded into the ground. 

After we started heading towards S:ta Maria dome church, a 13th century church that is still standing. The outside was very impressive, lots of detail and sitting just in front of a hill that gave some wonderful views of the church and surrounding city. I found the inside a little less impressive than the outside. There were a few sparse decorations, but the inside was dominated with a display tying together the bible and bullying. I think that maybe if I was a little more of a religious person, it would have meant more, but all I saw were just a bunch of pictures of little children getting bullied. 

Then we decided to go see some of the rest of the ruins in the rest of the city. Unfortunately the rest of them were all locked up. I wasn't sure if someone had just forgotten to go unlock them that day, or if they don't open them up to the public. 

After a quick lunch of some delicious crepes and must, we decided to spend the afternoon in the fornsalen museum. It was a massive museum, with tons of stuff to see. The first thing that you walked into was a display of viking picture stones, of all different ages. Then there were some displays showing furniture and how hoses were organized in the medeival times. There was a lot of stuff about history of Gotland and Visby over the ages. There also were some interesting displays of viking treasure that they have found in the island, from all over the world. They have rooms upon rooms of coins and different types of silver. There was also an interesting display about churches on the island, including a few interpretations of what a lot of the ruins in the city looked like in their glory. I would have to say the most interesting display was a temporary one they had about punishment and executions in the medeival times. They had some bodies that they had uncovered under the gallows, and many detailed descriptions about different types of torture. They even had partial lists of people that had been punished, what they were punished for, and how they were punished. The warning outside of display stating that this was not sure children was definitely right. They had also tied it into execution in modern times, calling for a stop to it. 

The rest of the day was spent resting and eating, relaxing after climbing stairs and walking around all day. I could already feel that my legs were going to be sore the next day. Good thing that all we had planned for the next day waas the two and a half hour walking tour of the city.   
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