SMALAND, SWEDEN, November 19, 2016 – Be it the United Kingdom or the Magic Kingdom or any realm in between, travelers have long been fascinated with castles and royalty. And one of the most popular in-between “kingdoms” can be found today in southern Sweden. Best of all, it’s made out of glass.
Well, not entirely, but they do call it the “Kingdom of Crystal”, or Glasriket in Swedish. In fact, Sweden’s glass district is the most visited destination in the country except for Stockholm and Gothenburg.
Situated in the lovely forested province of Smaland, the Kingdom of Crystal is home to 15 glassworks in the towns of Emmaboda, Nybro, Uppyidinge, Vaxjo and Lessebo.
Swedish artisans have been turning red-hot molten handblown glass into crystalline beauty in the region since 1742, and the process has become a major aspect of Swedish culture.
Two of the larger and most famous glass businesses are Orrefors and Kosta Boda, but each glassworks, no matter how large or small, has developed its own individual styles and interpretations to such a high degree that every company produces world class crystal and glass. In fact, in a few of the glassworks, you can even try your luck at making your own glass creation.
Part of what makes the Kingdom of Crystal so appealing to visitors is the rural scenic landscapes that spread out through the region from Kalmar to Vaxjo. It doesn’t take long to understand why Swedes are nature lovers of the first order. Their deeply seeded reverence for their woodlands, lakes and pristine nature is universal.
Kalmar is a coastal city that was once extremely important for the Swedes. The Castle of Kalmar was a major stronghold for the seafaring ancestors of modern-day Swedes. So much so that it was often said that whoever controlled Kalmar controlled the Baltic region.
Among the unique features of southern Sweden is something known as the “Emigrants Path” which follows the route taken by nearly one and a half million Swedes who left their homeland in the late 19th century to settle in the upper Midwest of the United States.
The migration was so prolific that for a brief period of time, Chicago had the second largest Swedish population in the world behind Stockholm.
Travelers with Swedish heritage can re-trace the footsteps of their ancestors along the route which ends at the gateway to the Kingdom of Crystal.
There is also a Swedish Emigrant Institute near Vaxjo which was supported by Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg who donated the entire source material from his epic story of Karl and Kristina Oskar’s emigration from Smaland to Minnesota.
The institute is one of the best of its kind where people of Swedish heritage can seek out their ancestral history.
After a glass blowing demonstration at one of the factories, visitors can browse the outlets in each business to find crystal and glass products for gifts or souvenirs. The outlets offer considerable discounts on “seconds” ranging between 30 and 40 percent. Deferring to the Swedish philosophy of perfection, the seconds contain minute flaws that, in many cases, are not even visible to the naked eye or the untrained observer.
There is a broad range of accommodations in the region from hotels to B&Bs to campgrounds and youth hostels.
The Kingdom of Crystal is easily accessible from Stockholm, Gothenburg and even Copenhagen, Denmark.
Visitors planning to make a full tour of the region might want to consider a GLASRIKET Pass for 95 Swedish kroner which offers free admission to many museums as well as discounts on purchases and many other bonuses and/or special events.
For something a little unique, the Kingdom of Crystal and the Path of the Emigrants might just be the answer. The pastoral rural countryside filled with traditional red houses and white trim will capture your imagination with thoughts of a gentler day and time. It’s just a matter of a few magic moments for everything to become “crystal” clear.
How “Swede” it is.
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About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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