One of the most memorable experiences for me during the Medical Practice and Policy Core Course Week was our trip to Sigtuna, the oldest town in Sweden. Founded in the 10th century on the coast of Lake Mälaren, about an hour’s drive Northwest of Stockholm, Sigtuna is widely considered the birthplace of Sweden.
(A Streetlevel view of Scenic Sigtuna)
Sigtuna is a pleasant and welcoming town settled on the coast of a beautiful lake. The vibrant colors of the buildings and small streets were similar to the architecture back in Stockholm. After arriving we began our tour of the town where we saw various historical sites and buildings. Our guide explained to us that Sigtuna was built by a variety of people over the years including doctors, business owners, and even military generals. She went on to explain that a good way to see which buildings were older was to look at their size. Older buildings that were small and built close to the ground meant that they were some of the oldest ones in Sigtuna.
(Our tour guide using a map to explain the historical layout of Sigtuna)
As we continued with the tour she pointed out several runestones to us along the way. Runestones are located throughout Sweden and they are a testament to the Viking history of the country. They are stones with characters and symbols inscribed in them by early Vikings who settled the area hundreds of years ago.
(A trip like this couldn’t “Rune” my day – I’m sorry that one was just asking for it)
After our tour we were given time to have lunch and explore the area. We stopped at a little outdoor restaurant right on the coast of the Lake. I ordered a salmon burger and fries (they had a separate menu in English thankfully) and after that decided to go exploring with a couple friends.
(Erik (left), myself (center), and Jake (right) enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery)
Erik had actually studied at a school near Sigtuna several years ago and knew the area. We worked our way through several neighborhoods where we saw kids leaving from school and locals tending to their gardens in the sunny weather. Just when I thought we had seen all there was to see in Sigtuna, Erik showed us a final gem that was the perfect conclusion to our trip – a beautiful small, secluded beach away from the town that was ideal for relaxing after school.
(One of the hidden treasures of Sigtuna)
Our Core Course Week was packed with amazing activities around Sweden (See Reed Mszar’s post for a great overview of some of the other happenings on our trip). We traveled to Uppsala and Linkoping, but when it came to Sigtuna, we traveled back in time. Seeing the humble Nordic roots that Sweden blossomed from with my own eyes was both an insightful and enriching experience.