RoadTrip #32.2: Exploring the city center of Mora, Sweden (ft. the Vasaloppet, the Old Bell Tower, Mora church, the Dalahäst statue, the promenade and Zorngården and museum)

Here’s part 2 of the roadtrip to the northernmost Swedish city we’ve visited thus far – Mora. The name itself, apparently, has nothing to do with “mor” (or “mother”), but was derived from the other meaning of the word in Swedish, “dense forest on damp land”. Mora lies by the 6th largest lake in the country, Lake Siljan. There are many interesting facts about the city, but the most fascinating for me are: it was the location for the famous witch trials in the 1600s, it supported Gustav Vasa in the war for independence from the Kalmar Union in the 1500s, and the it’s the birthplace of the Dalahäst (wooden horses).

We left Åmåsängsgården camping early, and leaving early had its prize. For the first time, we saw a moose in the wild! And a bambi deer 🙂 Oh what fun!

Did you spot it? Of course, it was difficult to see. They’re very good in camouflaging. But Carl has eyes for details (just like how he easily spots mushrooms in the forest while I spend a longer amount of time scouring for them). Here’s a video:

And as for Bambi, the shy deer even stopped for a few seconds to stare back at us:

Oh what pompous tail! So, we had a great start. We reached the city center at around kl 08:15. After finding a parking spot, we started the stroll around, exploring each corner of the city (or maybe just the accessible ones). We started along the promenade, or the Waterfront Walk Mora, where we saw interesting installations:

  • the Mora Steam Train (Ångloket), made in Motala in 1916 and was in use in Dalarna from 1948 to 1960;
  • the S/S Laxen steamboat built in 1899; and
  • the Mora Dala horse, made in laminated wood and 3.7 meters in height.

Walking away from the port and into the city center, we passed by the Mora Church, a beautiful building dating back to the 13th century. As I personally believed churches should be, it was open to the public at no cost! I was impressed by how “open-minded” the church is, with flyers supporting LGBTQ and whatever gender identity there is. There was soulful organ music playing while we were there, and the church also showcased some of its prized possessions protected by thick and heavy vaults. There’s also a playing area for kids.

The saying in the heart-shaped paper found in the church, loosely translated: “You know well that you are worthy, that you are important here and now, that you are loved for being you, because there’s no one else like you.” Lovely, isn’t it? Another interesting fact is that the church was dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel, and it has inspired the city shield, which is still in use today.

Just across the church is the Zorngården and Museum, which was formerly home to the Swedish artist, Anders Zorn (1860-1920), and his spouse. They donated it to the Swedish government after his passing. It was ok to walk inside the park, but the entrance to the buildings and the museum was not free and could only be accessed via guided tours at that time. Photography was also not allowed. We didn’t go in the museum, as it was still closed so early in the morning, but here’s a glimpse of the park.

The canteen in the museum had just opened though. They had really appetizing cakes there. Photo taken with permission.

The city gave me an impression of being laid-back. It was Saturday morning and the main street was still sleeping, even after we left. There’s also a statue of Saint Michael slaying the dragon on the shopping street.

Another distinct landmark in the city was the old bell tower. It was built after a fire in 1671 and is known to the Swedes as a symbol for the annual Vasa Ski race.

So, what’s the huge fuss about the Vasa Ski Race? Well, it is only the oldest cross-country ski race in the world, and according to sources, one with the highest number of participants. History has it that in 1520, a young nobleman named Gustav Ericsson Vasa was fleeing for his life from the “king tyrant” Christian II. At that time, Norway, Sweden and Denmark still belonged to a single kingdom, the Kalmar Union. Christian II massacred the rebelling Swedish aristocracies (hint: the Stockholm Bloodbath), including young Gustav’s parents. Failing to convince the people of Mora to join the rebellion, Gustav had to flee towards Norway. However, the people of Mora eventually changed their minds and sent two of their best skiers, the brothers Lars and Engelbrekt, to search for Gustav. They caught up with him in Sälen, and in 06 June 1523, Sweden gained independence from the Union. And what became of Gustav? He became the first King of independent Sweden, of course.

Here’s a statue of Gustav Vasa, made by the local artist Anders Zorn himself:

So, every March, the 90 km Vasaloppet or ski race is held in Dalarna County, from Sälen to Mora.

And here’s me at the Finish Line. 🙂 I tried skiing once, in 2015. It wasn’t a very good experience, but an experience still. Never stood in skis again after that. Sometimes, you just have to accept what you can and can’t do. I’m a certified islander – no skis and skates for me. 😉

So, we had a pretty good sightseeing walk around the Mora city center. We left around kl 09:45 and headed towards the dalahäst factories in Nusnäs. The mission – get our very own medium-sized Dala Horse! So, until then. #spreadloveandpositivevibes



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