Marstrand Explorer

Marstrand Travel Blog

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Today I explored Marstrand. It had my undivided attention. The sun was high in the sky and there was barely a cloud in the sky. I dressed warmly, not to be fooled by the appearance of summer.

Reaching the outdoors, I thought that maybe it was warmer than I had expected. I set out, though, stopping at the church, walking around it’s cemetery filled with extraordinary grave markers. The church, however, was closed and only showed opening hours on the weekend.

I continued to look into some of the shops that we had seen the previous evening. Many of them were closed until the weekend……AARRRGGHH!!! I did find one open that had some very creative textiles and ceramics. I bought a wall hanging of the island best view. This was an original creation by the lady running the shop.

She is quite an artist. I also bought an table runner with a traditional bird design in multicolor. There was a locally made bowl that I will bring rob back to see….simple but with a flair….really cool!

Before continuing to the fortress, I returned to the hotel, left my treasures, and put my shorts on and left my jacket. A little spf was in order, as well.

Now, I was much more comfortable for my next journey. I climbed the hill to the entrance to Carstens Fastning.

The peace treaty of Rosklide in 1658 made Bohuslan and Marstrand Swedish. Marstrand, with its ice-free harbour was an important and central trade town. For this reason, Sweden’s King Karl X Gustav had a defensive redoubt built. In 1676 it was reinforced with stone walls and adding a tower.

The fortress has been used as a prison and to be sentenced to “Marstrand labor” was one of the most severe punishments in the country. The tasks were so heavy that some years half of the prisoners died.

It is larger than it might seem from a distance. It is built on many levels and even has a secret passage that runs deep below and from one side to the other…..around 100 meters (300 ft). The passageways allowed for safe movement to different parts of the fortification during attacks.

Many of the differing types of accamodations are shown from commanders to “vaults” or prison cells. One of the notorious prisoners that was held here was Lasse-Maja (Larsson Molin). He was a thief that dressed in women’s clothes while commiting his crimes.

He had started working with his girlfriend but continued on without her. He was able to swindle rich men by using his “female charm”. He stole their money and gave some of it to friends in need. He burglarized a church and was caught at the age of 23 (1813). He was sentenced to forty double lashes, church duty, and life imprisonment at Castens. He fulfilled his Marstrands Labour as a cook.

In 1823, he escaped disguised as a woman with a skipper named Buckman, but was soon caught. In 1837, he was pardoned by King Karl XIV Johan. In 1839, he left the fortress and settled down on a farm near Arboga, where he lived until his death. Now……that’s quite a story!

The views from the upper wall are outstanding. It is possible to see for many, many kilometers to other villages, other islands, and other channels.

From 1781 to 1868 there was a lighthouse on the roof of the tower. It was able to rotate and had 16 mirrors in gilded copper.

I took the secret passage upon my finishing my tour. It was narrow, steep, and water permiated it’s walls. At its end, I turned to face the door and at the window’s ledge to it’s right…..a spider. It was a fake spider but, as I wasn’t expecting to see any spider…I jumped! Someone has a sense of humor.

I climbed over the lower wall outside the visitor’s center and continued on toward the water’s edge. I passed a few people, now and then, on my walk. Reaching the water, I first noticed that on the rocks nearby, “nude sunbathing for women” was painted. I think that I scared a few women in that I was near and photography the coastline.

As I continued to the north, I found the men’s area, as well.

I headed south along the water and climbed out onto several of the islets to get a better view. I had hoped to get into the water or atleast stick my feet in. There is much thick vegetation in the water around the rocks and on the seafloor in the areas that I was exploring so, no such luck.

There were many small clam shells strewn across the rocks. I guess that was the result of the feasts had by the seagulls. I found some little shells but the muscles within had not been removed and would prove to be …..difficult. I left them behind.

I turned inland and crossed the rocks to get to the marshy forest. There are bottle brush bristle pines with tiny cones. Ferns grow across the rocks in the moist shade.

More daffodills of yellow and white were dotting my path with a very large group with huge blooms just before my exit of the forest.

I made it to the north end of the village and walked the shopping street back. I stopped again at the closed shop filled with treasures that I would not get the chance to acquire as it would open for the season on Saturday, May 22nd. I took pictures.

I had a good rest after my rocky exploration. It had been a good day, a fortress with secret passages and a sunny climb along a rocky coast. Days don’t get much better than this.

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392 km (244 miles) traveled
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photo by: stefmuts