Kronoberg Castle

Kronoberg Castle Ruin
Kronoberg castle ruin in winter. Photo: Jacek Lesniowski (CC BY-SA)

Kronoberg Castle is a castle ruin in Växjö parish, Konga härad, Småland, in Växjö municipality. Kronoberg County. The castle, which began construction in the 15th century, is located on an islet in Helgasjön about five kilometres north of Växjö in Småland.

On a small island in Helgasjön about half a mile north of Växjö are the ruins of Kronoberg Castle, which has given its name to the whole of Kronoberg County1. In the middle of the 14th century, Kronoberg is mentioned as the main farm of the växjöbiskoparnas, and probably the islet was already fortified then.

In 1469 Kronoberg was conquered by the Danes, who then destroyed the castle. It was rebuilt after the peace of 1472. During the Reformation, the Parliament in Västerås decided in 1527 that Kronoberg should be withdrawn to the Crown, and thus the last Catholic bishop had to hand over the castle to Gustav Vasa.

Kronoberg castle ruin aerial view
Photo: John-Eric Gustafsson / Riksantikvarieämbetet (CC BY)

In the late autumn of 1542, Nils Dacke and his entourage of freedom fighters captured Kronoberg Castle after peace had been concluded with the Swedish central power in Stockholm on 8 November of the same year. Catholic worship was reinstated and free border trade with Denmark was again permitted. At Kronoberg, "Christmas was drunk", as the old chronicle says, but little did they know that Gustav Vasa never intended to keep his promise of peace. He was already gathering forces for a military offensive against the rebellious peasants.

Read more about the Dackefejden here. Christmas Eve 2042, 24 years from now, will mark 500 years since Nils Dacke and his kinsmen celebrated Christmas at Kronoberg Castle. Will we meet there?

The ruin of Kronoberg

The place was during Catholic times the fortified farm of the bishops of Växjö, but was taken in at the Reformation and rebuilt by Gustaf I into a magnificent castle with four round corner towers and between them two longer and two shorter side buildings, which enclosed a four-sided courtyard, large enough to accommodate 1,500 men on horseback. The castle was kept in reasonably good condition until the days of Charles XI, when the upper floors were broken down and the stone used for some public buildings in Växjö. Now it is a mere ruin, but as such one of the more substantial and beautiful in the kingdom.

Herman Hofberg and Johan Velander in (1896), s. 301

The castle ruin covers an area of about 75×75 metres and is built of grey stone to a height of 7 metres with 2 metre thick walls. The castle consists of a main castle and 2 outer castles, and got its present form after the Dacke Rebellion when Gustav Vasa decided to strengthen the castle into a modern fortification. At that time, Småland was, after all, a borderland with the old arch-enemy Denmark. The crown enlisted the help of peasants, i.e. the Smålanders, who were liable for day labour.

The last time the castle served as a border fortress was during a Danish siege during the Kalmar War in 1612. After the Peace of Brömsebro in 1645, the castle began to decay, which accelerated at the end of the 17th century when the top wooden floors are said to have burned down. After that it was not long before the castle was in ruins.

The ruin of Kronoberg
Photo: Victoria Philline (CC BY-SA)

At the beginning of the 20th century, an initiative was taken to conserve the castle ruins, and they are now maintained by the National Heritage Board. Guided tours for visitors are held in the summer.

Sources

  1. Herman Hofberg, Johan Velander, Through Sweden's districts (1896), s. 301

Getting there

Coordinates: Latitude 56.9386658 | Longitude 14.798069400000031

Discover more interesting places to visit at History map.

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