Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Splendours of Royal Skåne

A millennium of royal history has left Skåne with an impressive legacy of historic buildings. Many of these imposing buildings, once reserved for the nobility alone, are today open to the public, as museums, hotels and restaurants. Here are some of the region’s best places to experience for your self the elegance and grandeur of the past.

In Skåne, many of the historic castles and manors have been put to good use by being converted to hotels and restaurants. One of the most impressive is Häckeberga Slott, which lies 35km from the Øresund Bridge amid the Skåne countryside. Häckeberga was built in 1875 and today boasts accommodation in the manor house itself and a converted stable, as well as four conference rooms and an acclaimed gourmet restaurant. Several of Skåne’s best golf courses are located nearby.
Other beautifully located, converted castle-hotels within the region include the French Baroque-style Snogeholm Slott, which dates from the 1860s; Bäckaskog Slott, once the country retreat of the Swedish king Karl XV, set beside Lake Ivösjön north of Kristianstad; and Kronovall Slott, famed for its wine (a popular wine festival is held there every summer). Svaneholm is a Renaissance castle, today housing a local museum and inn.
Krapperups Slott in north-west Skåne dates back to the 12th century. It is not open to the public but boasts a beautiful park, a gallery and café. Torup and Trollenäs castles in southwest also feature attractive parks and are occasionally open for guided tours of the noble chambers. Hovdala Slott offers guided tours of the castle and has changing exhibitions, concerts and other events throughout the summer. In the 18th century the owner of Christinehofs Slott Christina Piper was running Scandinavia’s largest company producing aluminium. Today, the castle is open to visitors and boasts a well-reputed restaurant with game on the menu.
A more recent addition to Southern Sweden’s manor hotel portfolio is Örenäs Slott, a grand yet welcoming early 20th century manor that opened in 1943 as a holiday hotel and conference centre. Today the castle boasts a restaurant and wine cellar, as well as ten conference rooms.
Towards the north on the coast of Øresund you find Sofiero built in 1865 and featuring a spectacular rhododendron garden established by King Gustaf VI Adolf when he inherited the castle. Today, Sofiero is owned by the city of Helsingborg and is a popular excursion spot well worth visiting for its beautiful gardens, famous restaurant as well as its regular music and garden events during the summer.

From Sofiero park there’s also a splendid view across the Øresund to Kronborg Slot, in Denmark, known for its association with Hamlet.

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