– Sweden’s starting point
TEXT: HANNA ANDERSSON | PHOTOS © JENNY BRANDT
When you first arrive in Trelleborg during summer time and travel along the coast, you will reach a road lined with palm trees – an unusual sight in Sweden. “Trelleborg is often called ‘the city of palm trees’. We have 100 palm trees around the city, mostly along the avenue leading into central Trelleborg, that are planted every summer. When you see them, you know you’ve come to Trelleborg,” says Petra Strandberg, marketing director at Visit Trelleborg.
After you pass the palm trees, you are greeted by the town centre that follows the coast, on the same ground where Vikings once walked. In the late 1980s, a sensational discovery was made in Trelleborg: the remains of a Viking Age fort. It turned out to be a so-called ‘trelleborg’, a circular fort, with the word ‘trelle’ referring to the slanted timber staves that support the palisade. The discovery of Trelleborgen solved the mystery of how the city got its name.
The Viking king Harold Bluetooth built many circular forts in Denmark and southern Sweden in the late tenth century and, so far, eight of them have been unearthed. “We believe he built them to defend his kingdom, maybe to form a communication system, collect taxes and turn the Danes to Christianity,” explains Strandberg. And indeed, you recognise the king’s name because of the wireless sharing and communication technology we all have in our phones – it was named after him.
A quarter of the fortress has been reconstructed and is now an open-air Viking museum, where the event Battle of Trelleborgen is hosted during the second weekend of July every year. Meet the Vikings, visit the market, attend a Viking wedding, and climb the fortress to look out over the society that king Harold once ruled over.
Peacocks, golf and farm shops
Trelleborg has always been a town connected to the world, and it is sometimes referred to as the cradle of the shipping industry. “The harbour is a big part of Trelleborg. We have up to 15 arrivals and departures to Germany by ferry every day during the summer. If I look out my window right now, I can see one of the ferries leaving,” says Strandberg.
Trelleborg is also known for its public art and beautiful gardens. The City Park boasts more than 100 different kinds of trees as well as bird ponds – do not be surprised if you run into a peacock out for a stroll. Right by the train station, you will find the starting point of the regional hiking trail, Skåneleden, and a new national biking trail following the coastline will open this summer.
Another notable aspect is the mild climate on the south coast of Sweden, which means a long golf season, sometimes lasting all year round on the 13 golf courses in and around Trelleborg. The south coast also offers beautiful views, nature, beaches, small harbours and cosy fishing villages. “The area is also ideal for cycling, since it is so flat and the distances short,” says Strandberg.
Yet another main attraction in the area is Smygehuk – the southernmost point of Sweden. “55 degrees, 20 minutes and three seconds is as far south as you can get in Sweden. You will find yourself standing on a platform built to mark this special point. After you’ve visited the point, you can go to the local tourist information bureau and get a certificate saying that you have been there. It will be signed by a local Smygebo – a person living in Smygehuk,” laughs Strandberg, and continues: “It is also in Smygehuk that Nils Holgersson ends his journey through Sweden in Elsa Beskow’s beloved fairy-tale.”
Another viewing point well worth a visit is Smygehuk’s old lighthouse. “On a clear day, you can look out over the flat landscape, the relics, the agriculture and the sea. When the rapeseed fields bloom it is almost ridiculously beautiful,” Strandberg enthuses.
If you approach Trelleborg not from the water, but instead from the north, lush forests and scenic slopes of the gently rolling landscape meet the flat southern plains with relics, 31 churches, cafés, galleries, country shops, and old family farms with a new line of business. Strandberg elaborates: “There are farms that have found a new way of operating and attracting visitors. For example, there is the Raspberry Farm, which is now focusing only on raspberries. They offer self-picking, a café and a shop with products all based on the sweet berry. They even have a raspberry ketchup! We also have Hällåkra Vineyard, with about 20,000 vines that have developed here since 2003. Hällåkra produces a variety wines and offers personal and intimate tasting sessions, along with beautiful local food.”
Trelleborg and its surroundings are truly worth a visit. After all, this perfect spot for exploring the south coast of Sweden was even good enough for a Viking king!