Following the Wallander Novels in Ystad and Malmo Sweden
In a small, southeastern Swedish town with narrow cobblestone lanes, colorful hollyhocks and charming, half-timbered stone houses, crime lurks in this quaint hamlet. In fact, a murderer lives on Harmony Street and explosions rock the village square! Why on earth would anybody want to visit this town? Perhaps charm is deceiving. Or, is it reality mixed with one of the most popular crime fiction dramas on the globe in Sweden?
Introducing Kurt WallanderYstad, Sweden, located on the country's southern tip by the Baltic Sea, is the site of author Henning Mankell's best selling crime drama, the Kurt Wallander series. Thirteen books to date, Mankell is one of the top esteemed Scandinavian crime novelists. His work has been translated into over 40 languages; over 30 million copies of his books have been sold. And, with over 34 Swedish films and six British films (starring Kenneth Branagh), based on his books and story ideas, Mankell has created a fictional world that has universally captured fans and brought Ystad into the limelight. Note: The British Wallander films are often aired on the Public Broadcasting Service. Mankell's Inspector Wallander character lives and solves crimes in this picturesque town that features medieval architecture mixed with lovely gardens, a 13th century church, small cafes and a host of tiny cottages located on romantic streets. Perhaps the reason the Kurt Wallander series are such a success is the almost implausible setting of the scenic Ystad for such dark crime and Wallander's less than super-cop, yet ultimately human character. Wallander tends to brood over his divorce while he drinks whiskey and listens to opera in his off time. The Wallander novels and movies have become so popular and integrated into the town's culture that the friendly locals rarely pay attention to filming (car explosions, guns and police sirens), or the tourists who flock to see the film and book sites. Moreover, the Ystad Tourist Office created a guided and self-guided In The Footsteps Of Wallander walking tour that features numerous sites from the films and books, as well as the Ystad Studios and interactive Cineteket.
In the Ysted Footsteps of WallanderThe guided walking tour starts with Harmonigatan (Harmony Street), where the murderer from the book and film One Step behind lives in a sweet little cottage. Again, Mankell's dichotomy of location and character are wonderfully paradoxical. The tour then moves through Ystad to such locations as Stortorget (in the main square old town), where Wallander fights for his life by an ATM machine in Firewall and Mariagatan # 10, where Wallander's famous house is located. After the major sites of the walking tour have been explored, guests are in a for special visit to Cineteket, an interactive film museum and gallery that depicts how a film is made, including scripts, animating and blue screen technology. The museum displays fascinating props and sets from the Wallander series, such as his office in the police station and his living room. If you want to take home a cool photo, ask to wear Wallander's heavy, black leather police jacket (worn by Swedish actor Krister Hendrickson) and hold his gun, while you have your photo taken. In addition, Cineteket displays several other movies shot in Ystad and even sports a small café to sit and relax after your tour. If you are a real movie buff, take a captivating tour of Ystad Studios, located next to Cineteket, where numerous Wallander films are shot. You must book ahead for tours. While in Ystad stay at a wonderful hotel that is also a scene in the novel Sidetracked, the Hotel Anno 1793 Sekelgården, located on Långgatan. This boutique hotel proffers individually designed rooms, a serene inner courtyard garden and a delicious breakfast. And, situated next door, is the fabulous steakhouse and brewery Bryggeriet, located in a rustic and comfortable setting. Try their table-cooked on a grill deer; it is rich and flavorful. Ystad is a great destination to visit whether you are a Wallander fan or just want to explore a lovely city that dates back to the 14th century. In Gamla Staden (old town), visit the 13th century church Maria Kyrka, where the tradition of the night watchman that guards the church tower is still in evidence. Roland Borg blows his horn at 15-minute intervals from all four sides of the tower at a quarter past nine p.m. Take time and explore the pedestrian street for unique shopping of Swedish goods. Or, visit the old monastery, originally built in 1267 of beautiful brick; and now restored into a historical museum with gardens located behind the venue. Whatever adventure you choose, Ystad will be an utter delight to experience.
MalmoAnother fantastic destination to visit while you're in Ystad is the exciting city of Malmö, located in the southwestern side of Sweden and just a mere 20 minutes by train to the Copenhagen Airport. With a population of 300,000, Malmö has evolved from an industrial city to a vibrant Mecca for media companies, clean technology, a university and tech companies. With three modern art museums, 40 private galleries, beautiful old churches, incredible shopping, and architectural marvels, such as the famous Turning Torso, located in the vanguard Western Harbour, Malmö is a perfect place to explore. When you venture out, visit Moderna Museet Malmö, the modern art museum, located on Gasverksgatan. The museum was originally an electric plant and then eventually became a marvelous art museum with a collection of about 7000 paintings, a massive photographic collection and revolving exhibitions as well. Featured works, such as the renowned Icelandic artist Sigurdur Gundmundsson, whose self-situated, nature-based photographs capture the imagination, are fascinating. Moreover, with its bright orange interior and ultra modern ambience, the museum is a must-visit for any art enthusiast. If modern architecture is your thing or you just want to see an amazing building, visit the Turning Torso that turns 90 degrees and stands 190 meters high with 54 floors dedicated to private residences and offices. Architect Santiago Calatrava used the human body as the model for his design. The Turning Torso is located in the Western Harbour area that is also the location of the housing expo, the city’s internationally acclaimed and award-winning area of sustainable urban development. Twelve different developers joined to design a quality program then implemented a sustainable area with homes and buildings. They created a village within the city and the area has become a test program to see if larger projects are feasible. While in the area, an excellent recommendation for lunch or dinner is the Salt & Brygga. The establishment is the first 100 percent organic restaurant in Malmö. The atmosphere is harmonious and the cuisine is absolutely luscious and fresh. Try any of their fish dishes and ask to see the impressive tea menu as well. The restaurant's organic concept from interior to cuisine is original and appealing. For shopping in Malmö, visit the Lilla Torg area. This square features numerous shops with everything from books to apparel. One of the most interesting establishments in Lilla Torg is the Form and Design Center. The multiple level center features exhibitions of design, architecture and works by artists throughout Scandinavian, such as jewelry, textiles, music glass art, ceramics and a host of visually alluring art. If you go to Malmo an excellent recommendation for accommodations is the newly remodeled Renaissance Hotel and it's the first in Sweden. The rooms are beautiful and well-appointed. The bar area is infused with hues of greens and blues with a chic design and killer cocktails. The hotel is centrally located and only a few block from the train station. Fly SAS Airlines into Copenhagen Airport then take a short train ride (train located just outside airport) to Malmo. They offer Economy, Economy Plus and Business class seating.
More Articles by Patrice Raplee
Patrice Raplee is an experienced travel photojournalist and editor of Travel Excursion and Seattle Spotlight for Positively Entertainment magazine. In addition, she writes a monthly travel column for the award-wining site Offbeat Travel and is a regular guest on Travel radio talk shows. She is a member of North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA), International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and the Recording Academy. Her photographs and articles have appeared in numerous international publications, as well as NW newspapers such as the Seattle Times, the Stranger and Seattle Weekly. Patrice travels the globe to cover destinations that feature fascinating culture, art, culinary, history and soft adventure.
Photos courtesy of Patrice Raplee and Malmo Tourism