Rus Articles Journal

The treasure island of the Middle Ages

“Overseas life is not thin; in light there is what miracle: The island at the sea lies, the hail on the island costs With gold-domed tserkva, with towers yes gardens...“ It is unlikely this Pushkin fantastic island had a real prototype. But here Gotland as far as it is possible, quite approaches: there is also a medieval city “with towers yes gardens“ - Visby, both nearly one hundred ancient churches, and treasures of times of sea athletes - Vikings.

Only in the last decades continental Swedes began to come to the island just for the sake of its natural and architectural beauty. And still quite recently generally treasure-hunters, often illegal aspired here. The matter is that at peak of power of Vikings Gotland served as the important center of trade on Baltic. Naturally, on it the mass of silver treasures of that era (the IX-XI century) accumulated. On the custom existing then the treasures got by the soldier accompanied it after death to the world other, that is were located in a grave together with remains. And the few decided to disturb rest of deceased soldiers - all remembered how they were furious during lifetime.

power of superstitions already, of course, did not work with

During modern times, and 10 years ago on Gotland thanks to diligence of “black diggers“ the largest was found in the world vikingsky burial of silver objects. Once the farmer by the name of Byyorn Engstrem noticed two strangers who dug something on his meadow. Having guessed in what here business, he decided to call not police, and on TV. Journalists in a trice arrived and removed a small plot about “private“ treasure-hunters then that and the trace caught a cold. On the same day the professional archeologist involved with telegroup together with Engstrem found 14 300 silver coins, huge number of bracelets, rings and just ingots of precious metal.

the Main advantage of a product Vikings always considered by

not its appearance, but weight. In this case it made 67 kilograms - a fortune. As well as in many other countries, in Sweden such finds under the law have to be transferred to the state unconditionally. However, law-abiding citizens can count on decent compensation. The farmer Byyorn received from treasury 2,1 million kroner (210 000 dollars) then he, by own recognition, “resolved to connect the future with archeology“.

Of course, measures to restrain an ardor of underground archeologists, are accepted. For example, many years import to the island of metal detectors is forbidden. It is possible to receive year of prison for export of already found values. And all - from time to time at the international auctions objects from Gotland emerge - desperate “diggers“ there were not translated yet.

the City of thousands of roses Less pragmatic fans of antiquities find

too, than to be engaged on the island. Local churches are of a great interest, for example. Gotlandtsa adopted Christianity in 1030 - earlier, than most of continental Swedes, and many of local 92 temples belong just to an early era. Completely kept unique medieval shape and an administrative center - 25 - thousand Visby is entirely included in the List of the World heritage of UNESCO. This city founded in 897 by the 13th century became famous as the richest port of Baltic. However, already by the end of XIV it lost the value, but from the historian - the cultural point of view it appeared even well: the municipal treasury so never also lacked money for radical reorganization, and more than 200 houses reached us in an original form.

located Visby on the western coast of the island, is rather close to the continent that protects it from the high sea. The high fortification surrounding the city from sushi - the certificate of its rough history. Defending the independence, the city - the republic of Visby often had to be at war with other part of the island.

Krom of walls and ancient buildings, various representations and actions help to feel aroma of those old eras. For example, already more than a quarter of the century in August there takes place the Middle Ages festival here. Initially he reflected especially for locals that they got acquainted with history of the native island better.

But today here thousands of participants come from around the world. Most of guests are dressed in suits of the past centuries. And here you will not find plastic helmets with horns - all clothes are made manually, are strict according to traditions. Those to whom these canons are unknown can hire medieval clothes or even to sign up for special courses on its production.

the Whole week on narrow paved small streets monks in cassocks from rough fabric, with heavy crosses efficiently pace, knights rattle armor, with magnificent dresses with loops townswomen rustle. One hurry on tournament, others - on competition of archers, the third - on a fair. In days of a festival it is possible to buy literally there everything that was on sale to 1400 - x - from a plow to a cow, and at the same time to be learned which - to what skills and crafts like juggling or blacksmithing. Everywhere smells of pitch, svezhestrugany boards, fried meat, hot rolls with cinnamon - as well as it is necessary to the medieval city, on each its corner something cooks and smokes.

And fans of silence and romantics prefer to come here in May when in the city thousands of roses blossom...

the Russian trace

of Visby based

in 1358 - m together with Lubeck the well-known Hanseatic union. But trade contacts of Gotland stretched far away from Baltic. The world`s largest collection of the Arab coins from Central Asia of the X-XI centuries, found among other things silver by that farmer Engstrem and nowadays presented in the city museum testifies to it. Novgorod was one of the most important partners of the island once (these contacts are for the first time mentioned in chronicles in 1130): through Gotland the Russian furs, hemp and wood got to Germany further in the southern and western parts of Europe.

of old commercial relations are reminded Today by names of two lanes in the Visby center - Novgorod and Russian. Our masters left the mark and in art of Gotland. The remains of two krestovokupolny churches of the 11th century - the Russian and Saint Lavrenti remained. In Garde and Chelyunge`s temples located in the center of the island fragments of the frescos of the 12th century executed by the Russian masters remained.

to replace active communications of Ancient Russia and Gotland time of relative calm came to XII-XIV centuries. It proceeded till 1808 when the Russian squadron without uniform shot occupied the island. Local local historians, especially women like to tell this story. It began with the fact that Russians were included into harbor of Visby fraudulently - under the Swedish flags. The counteradmiral Nikolay Andreevich Bodisko, subsequently - the military commandant of Helsingfors (Helsinki) headed the Russian troops. According to the journalist Greta Henriksson, “it was the most peaceful occupation for all world history. Moreover, aggressors enjoyed wide popularity at a fine half of Visby. They in perfection knew French, perfectly danced and spent at balls and receptions much time. When three and a half weeks later Russians left, women of Visby cried, the Swedish officers spoke in French worse and were not able to dance at all“.

A in 1929 on the island from Ukraine the big group of ethnic Swedes returned. In the 14th century their ancestors moved on the Estonian island Dagyo (Hiiumaa) which in 1710 departed to the Russian crown. Having ascended to a throne, Catherine II allowed new citizens to remain free provided that they will move to the southern lands won from Turkey. The empress guaranteed to each family 60 tithes of the earth and numerous tax benefits. In August, 1781 accompanied by fifty Don Cossacks of 1200 Swedes went to a way to a new residence. Heavy travel came to the end on May 1 1782 - go: the destination was reached by only 535 immigrants. At the end of the 18th century the colony on the Ukrainian earth which received the name the village of Zmeevka accepted replenishment from 31 soldiers taken prisoner during new war with Sweden.

on August 1, 1929 886 residents of the Ukrainian village returned on the historical homeland, to Sweden. Today they live on Gotland in Rohm`s town. Together with themselves they brought the Russian bells and old Swedish which was kept wonderfully in the foreign land by their ancestors.

at the beginning of October, 2008 the Ukrainian Zmeevka was visited by the Swedish royal couple. They say that Carl XVI Gustaf had to insist on a trip: the Ukrainian authorities had no special desire to show to the monarch rather poor village where the part of its kompatriot still lives. But, as they say, there`s no evil without good: to arrival of guests to Zmeevke constructed the new road and a playground for school, and on a route of their majesties placed dry closets. However, the gas pipeline on which villagers strongly counted was not carried out. Inhabitants did not manage to discuss this problem with the king too - between them and distinguished guests tens of bodyguards made an insuperable stand.

Heroes of Gotland

As well as all islanders, inhabitants of Gotland like to emphasize with

“peculiarity“, say, at them there, in Sweden, the life, and at us - the. In something such statements are reasonable: the island was a part of the integrated country only in 1645. To this day here a peculiar dialect remains. And still several heroes who are traditionally representing Sweden around the world exactly here lived.

In the town Kneypbyu, near the Visby, located “Villerkyull“, that is a country house “Chicken“ - the well-known residence of Pippi Dlinnyychulok. In a “charming“ yellow lodge with a pink sun blind even shot about it the movie, and now a peculiar memorial museum is located here: in a bedroom on the first floor it is possible to hear as Pippi rollicking snores, having put legs on a pillow, and the head under a blanket. All its entertaining bagatelles are right there carelessly hanging and scattered. On the second floor there is a huge book for visitors where at random - is a match for character of the hostess - young admirers write that they love and remember the cheerful heroine Astrid Lindgren. Sometimes signatures are absolutely laconic - “Pippi!!!“ sometimes they are accompanied by drawings, for example, of her favourite horse whose model full-scale costs on a verandah. In a saddle it is possible to sit, pulling the real reins...

And the main hero of the island - the person already real, namely recently died Ingmar Bergman. Here he shot several movies, including “The seventh press“, and on a nearby island of Foryo (“Sheep“) where it is possible to get on the ferry from “big“ Gotland, built the house where he lived to the death. In the same place, on a local church cemetery, the director is also buried.


With Gotland it is connected a name and other great artist - Andrey Tarkovsky. It left one more Russian mark on the island, having shot the last film “Sacrifice“ in the town under the name Neskholmen which represents, as a matter of fact, a beacon on the small cape in Hugo - the western part of the island. The nature reminds more likely the African savanna here and is a little similar to vicinities of the same Visby, not to mention continental Sweden. And in it one more feature of Gotland. It is enough to pass kilometers of five to see absolutely other landscape. Perhaps, matter only in warm Gulf Stream, the Baltic branch washing the island. But when you look at the roses blossoming in December, there is a wish to believe that it is an ordinary miracle.