Castle of the Day  

Kalmar Castle

Present Day Location: Kalmar, in the Southeast of Sweden


Kalmar Castle was built during the 13th century on the southeastern coast of Sweden. It is believed that its main tower or keep may have been built before 1250.  Its original purpose was to serve as protection against pirates and other enemies from the sea.  In 1397, Kalmar Castle was the site of the signing of the Union of Kalmar.  This united the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark under a common regent, Erik of Pomerania.

In the 1280s, new buildings were added to the initial tower including four round towers and a gate tower connected by a curtain wall. By the end of the century it was surrounded by its own moat.  The original keep was later destroyed and a castle church was built in a southern section of the grounds.  The castle saw major reconstruction during the 15th century under Swedish King Gustav Vasa and his three sons, Erik XIV, Johan III, and Karl IX. Much of the new building was done in the style of a Renaissance Palace. Among things added were large banks, new residential quarters, and a new south sling with roof.

In 1611 the Danish seized the castle during the siege of the city of Kalmar.  After falling into enemy hands it was badly damaged and repairs were slow. In 1642 a fire damaged it further and repairs finally began in earnest by 1660.  Beginning in the 1700s the castle became a storage facility, armory, and prison.  For a brief period it was even used as a distillery.  The castle continued the long restoration process until the 1940s.  Today it is open to the public for tours, feasts, and conferences.  It is usually open daily from April to September of every year.


Today, Kalmar Castle is not only considered one of the best preserved castles in Sweden, but all of Europe.  Of the three castle built close to one another of Kalmar, Borgholm, and Stockholm, Kalmar is easily the most well preserved castle.


Kaufmann, J.E. Kaufmann & H.W. The Medieval Fortress: Castles, Forts and Walled Cities of the Middle Ages. MA: Da Capo Press, 2004

Rimmer, Ace. “Kalmar Castle, Kalmar, Sweden.” BBC 26 October 2009.

Andersson, Lars. “Welcome to Kalmar Castle!” Kalmar kommun 26 October 2009.


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Last Revision: 7 October 2009
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