Copenhagen has its downtown Tivoli, with rides, restaurants and entertainment packed into a glittering core, but Stockholm can match it and maybe then some with Skansen, a large park a short bus or ferry ride from the central city. Skansen, opened in 1891 with the goal of showing life all over pre-industrial Sweden, now contains more than 150 houses and farmsteads, a zoo, restaurants and snack bars, amusement rides and several concert and entertainment venues. Think of Sturbridge Village mixed with Coney Island, Times Square and Central Park.
Among the more puzzling pieces of its role as a living history museum is the "hut with chicken legs" that's the subject of Where in the World #27—and it is a puzzle to visitors as well. I spent a good bit of time walking around it and looking at it before I found the descriptive plaque, and I never came near the correct answer.
For a start, the hut has no windows and no doors! It also has no ladder or stairs. But, as usually turns out, there's a reason: bears and other animals. The Sami—the people of northern Scandinavia often referred to as Lapps—built these huts as part of their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle. When they left an area for a long period for hunting, the windowless, doorless cabin, built on the stumps of close-growing trees, kept their food supplies and more safe from animals while they were away. The only access is through a fitted trapdoor in the floor. This type of design is not unique to the Sami, Other nomadic or semi-nomadic people have developed similar designs in Asia and Africa.
This one's for people, with doors, windows and carved doorposts
Back to Skansen, for a gallery of pictures from our afternoon wandering the grounds...
Many of the buildings feature costumed interpreters demonstrating crafts, cooking and other folkways of different regions of Sweden.
There are several farmsteads, moved from different parts of the country; these pigs and the pump are at one from southern Sweden's Skane region.
Traditional rural church at Skansen has become a popular location for weddings
Homes of the ordinary, above, and the wealthy, below, are represented
The Skansen zoo features Sweden's animal natives, including this reindeer and a Scandinavian black bear, who draw hordes of visitors
but the real animal stars of Skansen may well be the troupes of red squirrels who
hang around the food carts, hoping for a little something. these pictures were
taken near a nut vendor's cart, where both the vendor and young visitors offered
both bits of nuts and an admiring audience.