Sigtuna, Sweden’s oldest city, is a gem hidden in the shadow of its much newer and larger cousin, Stockholm–the fastest growing city in Europe. Less than 50 km from Stockholm, Erik the Victorious established the town back in 970 AD. It’s in the municipality of Sigtuna, which is also home to the Stockholm Arlanda Airport and the amazing Arlanda Express train that runs from the airport to Stockholm in just 20 minutes.
After spending 11 years as a librarian, I must admit I’m still fascinated with libraries — both the buildings themselves and the books inside. You can imagine my surprise when I encountered this teeny-tiny library on my visit to historic Sigtuna. But what I found the most surprising was this library building’s original purpose. Can you guess what it was? (Click on the tabs above to find out more!)
Sweden’s smallest library is situated in what used to be a phone booth! It seems that when the town no longer needed the phone booth locals didn’t want to lose the building, so they found it a new purpose. Unlike a traditional public library, the little library doesn’t have a formal collection. Instead, visitors sign in when they take a book, then return a book — the one they borrowed or a new one — afterwards.
The smallest library in Sweden is situated right outside the Sigtuna Museum. My guide, Anna, from the Sigtuna Tourist Office, told us that the museum is built on the location believed to be the home of the first King of Sweden, Eric the Victorious.
While written history is scant through this period — the time of the Vikings — it seems one of the most important things Eric did to establish his reign was to actually claim kingship. He also went on to also create coins with his image on them, leaving some historical evidence behind.
The museum, while small, has a collection of wooden artifacts as old as 1000 AD. Now that’s old! Click here to learn more about visiting the museum.
Interested in Sigtuna? This YouTube video takes you on a tour of the town.