Welcome to Västerås: Sweden’s sixth largest city and the place that I will be calling home for the next year or so. The city is one of Sweden’s oldest cities and was the second largest city in the 11th century. Just outside the city stands Anundshög a large burial mound dating back to 500 AD, a testament to the fact that the city was inhabited since before the Nordic Viking age.
Västerås has many things to be proud of. In 1520 it was captured by the Danes but liberated shortly after in 1521, by King Gustav Vasa who some years later made the decision to end Catholicism in Sweden, converting it to a Protestant state. This important decision was made in Västerås. The city also boasts Sweden’s oldest Secondary school, founded by Bishop Johannes Rudbeckius in 1623. According to Wikipedia “In the 18th and 19th centuries the growing of cucumber became frequent, and Västerås received the nickname Gurkstaden (the Cucumber City), which it still retains today.” In more modern times Västerås continued to make itself known – ‘Skrapan’, a distinctive building in the town centre hosts Sweden’s highest cocktail bar on the 23rd floor, H&M was established here in 1947 and the Woodpecker Treehouse Hotel is often voted amongst the world’s most unusual hotels.
Sitting right on the shores of Lake Mälaren ensures that Västerås has plenty to offer those who want to escape the city to enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities such as cycling, sailing, kayaking or swimming and it seems that the Swedes flock to their summer houses on the lakeside as soon as the weather permits. When the heavy snows arrive the lake makes the perfect picturesque outdoor ice rink. The Swedes have the good life sussed! The lake stretches all the way to Stockholm, offering beautiful views of glittering water and lush, green islands.
If the serene life is not your thing, Västerås has options for the thrill seeker. A small localised airport offers the chance to do a parachute jump (http://www.fkaros.se/?page=87), or you can do a 25m ‘Vertical Run’ which involves running face down, down the side of a hotel.
I have yet to explore my new city fully and I have even less time now that I have started work but I hope to have some adventures in Västerås before long.
Now that I have sold Västerås to you, you should think about booking yourself a flight on Ryanair as it conveniently has a route from London Stansted directly into the heart of Västerås.
Come and visit!!