There is an initial sense of shock at seeing an enormous ship indoors, moored within a high-ceilinged building, though the water is only a few steps away outside. The atmosphere is dim and hushed, and the faint smell of damp wood fills the air. No matter where you stand, the ship seems to dwarf you, whether with its massive several-story hull or its tall masts webbed with knotted ropes.
The Vasa is a wooden warship built during the 30 Years’ War (1618 -1648). At the time, the ship was the largest of the Swedish fleet, with 64 guns and place for at least 130 crew. On her maiden voyage into Stockholm Harbor, the Vasa‘s sails caught a wind and the ship listed to port, with water pouring into her open cannon ports. The Vasa sank there, in a 130-foot deep channel, where she remained until salvage efforts began in 1957, culminating with the ship being lifted out of the harbor in 1961. After decades of restoration and reconstruction efforts, the Vasa Museum opened in 1990 to showcase the imposing — and fully intact — ship for the public.
Photo: Vasamuseet, Stockholm, Sweden / February 2015