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Published: September 18th 2016
Neon sign for a café/bakery
Something we noticed when we travelled in Dalarna was the large number of old style neon signs
Wooden horses, the world's smallest telephone museum and a kettle you can't make tea in
The region Dalarna in Sweden is a somewhat popular travel destination, however not one that been visited much by us. Until now that is. Ake has been to Dalarna at least once before in his life, that was when he visited Engelsberg Ironworks
, but neither of us has actually travelled there. We have a friend who has recently moved to Leksand in Dalarna and when we visited him we also managed to squeeze in some sightseeing.
Something we noticed when we travelled in Dalarna was the large number of old style neon signs. We can't date them but they for sure were all from the 20th century. Possibly some of them are more then 50 years old. In other cities and towns we have visited in Sweden this kind of neon signs are much less common. Well, we like those signs so we have added a few photos of them so you can see them as well.
Dalarna’s foremost trademark is the Dala Horse, a painted horse made from wood. The Dala Horse is not only an important
We can't date the signs but they for sure were all from the 20th century.
symbol for Dalarna. Quite often is also used as a trademark for Sweden.
When you travel in Dalarna it is almost impossible to avoid seeing Dala Horses. They are displayed in every shop where souvenirs are sold, there are Dala Horse statues put up in parks and pictures of Dala Horses can be found in more places that you can count. Just like you find pictures and souvenirs of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York City you find Dala Horses in Dalarna.
On this visit in Dalarna we made a short visit to Nunäs where the majority of all Dala Horses are made. It was a very short stop basically just to be able to say that we have been there. We are not really interested in seeing how they make wooden horses and we neither have need nor space for more souvenirs.
The second most important holiday in Sweden is the midsummer. It is celebrated in the second half of June, the exact dates varies a little bit from one year to the other. The traditional celebrations include, among other thing, that you
Neon sign for a hair dresser
Possibly some of them are more then 50 years old.
dance around a so called maypole, a wooden pole decorated with flowers.
The midsummer is probably celebrated more in Dalarna than in any other region in Sweden. Each year many people who live elsewhere travel to Dalarna for that holiday to join the celebrations. One thing we found a bit unusual is that in Dalarna people keep their maypoles all year around. In other parts of Sweden the maypoles are decorated for the festivities and possibly left for a week or so. But when the flowers die and turn brown (read: "when the hangover from the midsummer party finally goes away") the maypoles are taken down, dismantled and stored somewhere until next year. Not always so in Dalarna. Many maypoles, stripped of the dead flowers, remain standing all year around.
Possibly the most visited tourist site in Dalarna is Falun Mine. It was operated, mainly as a copper mine and in later years as a gold mine, from the 10 th century until 1992. During the 17 th and 18 th century the Falun Mine was the most important industry in Sweden and was an integral part of the Swedish Empire, a period in
Neon sign for a gift shop
In other cities and towns we have visited in Sweden this kind of neon signs are much less common
history when Sweden was a superpower in European politics and economics.
The mine closed in the 90ies when it was no longer possible to operate it with a profit. A few years later the mine and the adjoining buildings were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for being a well preserved example of traditional mining.
There are documents showing that the copper mine in Falun was a registered joint-stock company as early as the year 1288. The company still exists today, and its shares are still traded on the stock exchange in Stockholm, making it the oldest joint-stock company in the world.
If we write about Falun Copper Mine we also have to mention the fate of Mats Israelsson, also known as Fet-Mats. In 1677 he was trapped when a remote section of the mine suddenly collapsed. For fear of further cave-ins they decided not to excavate the area where the accident happened and Mats Israelsson’s body was not recovered. Many years later when they extended the mine they entered the area where the collapse happed and they eventually reached the tunnel that was sealed by the collapse. When they
Neon sign for a café/bakery
Needless to say, we like cafés...
entered the tunnel they found Mats Israelsson's remains. However, his body had been so well preserved in the cave that they thought the corpse they found was only a few days old. They went through the files of everybody who worked in the mine but nobody was missing. Eventually Mats’ fiancée, by then a very old woman, was allowed to take a look at the body they had found in the mine and she indentified him. They still didn’t take her words that it was Mats Israelsson's body. Not until they managed to locate two very old mine workers who had worked with him and they also indentified him did they believe that the body was the miner who disappeared 42 years earlier.
To add to the tragedy they didn’t bury Mats Israelsson immediately. Instead they for several years displayed his dead body as a curiosity before he was laid to rest in the local cemetery.
In Dalarna there is a lake named Siljan. It is the sixth largest lake in Sweden and geology buffs might find it interesting that the lake is located in an old meteorite crater. Unfortunately you can't really see
Dala horse sculpture
Dalarna’s foremost trademark is the Dala Horse, a painted horse made from wood
the crater other than if you look at a map.
We took a daytrip with our car around Siljan and made a few stops on the way. Some of the places we visited were
• Styggforsen, a small waterfall located in a forest. The forest is like something out of a fairy tale. There were several hiking trails for those who wish to see more of the forest than we did.
• Helvetesfallet, which in English comes out as Waterfall from Hell. It is a pretty big waterfall but is not even close to live up to its name.
• Springkällan. When they in the 1860-ies drilled for oil they accidentally came upon a vein of water powerful enough to turn the drilling hole into a fountain. This partially natural fountain has flowed ever since. In winter the water freezes and creates impressive ice creations.
• Rättviks Brygga. In the town Rättvik they have a more than 600 meter long jetty which goes from the shore to a small island in Siljan. They claim themselves that it is the longest jetty in the world and that it might be the longest wooden structure
Painted Dala horses
The Dala Horse is not only an important symbol for Dalarna. Quite often is also used as a trademark for Sweden.
in the world. The latter claim can easily be disproved. The Long Corridor in the Summer Palace in Beijing is made of wood and is more than 700 meters long. The former claim might or might not be true though.
• Mora. The largest cross country ski race in the world takes place in Dalarna in March each year. It is called Vasaloppet and goes from Sälen to Mora, a distance totalling 89 km. The race commemorates an event in Swedish history when Sweden was invaded by Denmark and the Swedish king fled on skis through Dalarna. Near the finish portal there is a statue over the king. Near the finish there is also a statue depicting a skier and a race museum.
• Gagnef Floating Bridge and Nedre Österfors Floating Bridge. A rather unusual sight we saw in Dalarna are two floating bridges. The one in Nedre Österfors is only for bicycles and pedestrians but the one in Gagnef is sturdier and it is permitted to drive a car across.
• Church boat. On Sundays people had to travel far to go to church. Around Siljan the easiest way was to go by boat. When the
Dala horse made from flowers
When you travel in Dalarna it is almost impossible to avoid seeing Dala Horses. They are displayed in every shop where souvenirs are sold, there are Dala Horse statues put up in parks and pictures of Dala Horses can be found in more places that you can count.
church service was over the churchgoers went back to their village in the boats. On the way back home the young men who rowed the boats raced each other probably both because it was fun and to show off.
• Vålbäckens stugby - A fairy tale theme holiday village. We had no idea that this place existed. We passed this holiday village by chance, it wasn't even on the main road, and we thought it looked a bit odd and therefore we wanted to take a better look. We turned the car around, went back and went in. The entire place looked like it was built to house the seven dwarfs. Actually the cabins were named after the seven dwarfs so the resemblance was not by chance. The cabins were lower than average, there were tiny bridges and there were little fairy tale landscapes placed here and there. We have shot a little film from the place. It is not great but at least it gives you a vague idea of what it looks like.
• The smallest telephone museum in the world? In Tällberg we noticed a telephone booth which was painted in a similar style
Nusnäs - a Dala horse, a Dala pig and a Dala rooster
On this visit in Dalarna we made a short visit to Nunäs where the majority of all Dala Horses are made.
as the Dala horses. We stopped to take a picture of it. We don't think there actually exist any functioning telephone booths in Sweden any more. At least we haven't seen one in many years. So we had to open the door to see if there was a phone there or if it was just an empty booth left as a reminder of old times. To our surprise there were several phones there. Someone had not only decorated the booth but actually turned it into a tiny telephone museum. Most likely the smallest such museum in the world. If you don't think we are right, go ahead and find a smaller one.
• Skräddarkvarn. An well preserved water powered mill dating back to the 18th century. We took a photo of the door to the mill because it has inscriptions from the 18th and the 19th century. I guess those inscriptions back when they were made they probably thought "Damn kids. Why can't those hooligans leave our door alone". When we today read "Sven 18/8 1792" we think "Wow! That is cool!". Amazing what 200 years can do to your attitude to something as simple as a name and
Wooden horse road
This street in Nusnäs is called Wooden Horse Road. We just had to take a photo of the sign
a date cut in wood.
• Middle Ages themed festival. In Leksand we timed our visit to the week when they have their annual Middle Ages festival. We had more than one flashback from the movie A Knight's Tale when we enjoyed the various activities.
• Kettle. In Leksand there is a so called kettle. It is a large depression in the ground which was created in the end of the last ice age. When the ice melted a huge chunk of ice broke off from the glacier. The glacier then deposited sediment around and on top of this large piece of ice until it was covered and the land was flat. Slowly the ice melted and where as the surrounding ground remained flat the ground where the ice used to be sank and a depression was formed.
To conclude this blog entry we can say that when we read it it comes out looking like a real potpourri of things. And we guess that is what it feels like to visit Dalarna.
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