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Until 1658, the southern part of what is today Sweden, Skåneland, belonged to Denmark; and therefore also Malmö, which is located in the most southern part of Sweden on the Öresund, the narrow strait between the Kattegat and the Baltic Sea. Across the strait lies the Danish capital Copenhagen, with which Malmö is connected via the Öresund Bridge. For a long time plans were made for a fixed connection between Sweden and Denmark and in 2000, the bridge – a tourist attraction in itself – was opened.
Malmö's oldest buildings date from the Danish Era. In the fifteenth century, Eric van Pommeren started construction of the Malmöhus. Over a century later the complex was finished. It is Scandinavia's oldest Renaissance castle and used to be home to Danish kings and later the Swedish Royal House. These days it houses the City Museum, which has an interesting permanent exhibition on the development of the city and the region, classified by topic: Art, people and their culture, and natural history. The museum houses temporary exhibitions on a regular basis. Across the street lie the Museum for Science and Technology and the Maritime Museum. Malmö's maritime history comes to live in the Koggmuseet (Cog Museum), where two medieval cog ships have been reconstructed. These ships are berthed at a quay where they have also partially replicated the atmosphere of the Middle Ages.
The old city center is dominated by three squares: Gustav Adolfs torg, Stortorget and Lilla torg. Of the three, the Gustav Adolfs torg, is the most important one. It is enclosed by cafés and restaurants and the streets surrounding the square, for example in the Hansa shopping mall, are perfect for shopping. In addition you'll find here Malmö's oldest building, the Sankt Petri kyrka (Saint Peter's Church) from the fourteenth century. According to many, this Gothic cathedral is Sweden's most beautiful cathedral. Its tower collapsed twice in the fifteenth century though. The current one was built in 1890.
At the turn of the twentieth century there was a lot of construction activity in Malmö. The many Jugendstil buildings date from those days. The most blatant example is the synagogue, in this case with Moorish influences mixed in though.
Besides the Öresundbrug, Malmö has other examples of modern architecture. The 190-meter-high Turning Torso residential tower block determines the skyline. The design by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava consists of nine segments of five floors each that twist relative to each other as the construction rises. The top segment is twisted ninety degrees with respect to the lowest one. You would have an amazing view of the city and its surroundings from the top floor, but unfortunately it cannot be visited.
You can see modern art in the enormous Konsthall, one of Europe's largest exhibition spaces for modern art. In addition, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm has an annex in Malmö, where parts of this museum's large collection are exhibited.
Just like neighbor Finland, Sweden has a sauna culture. The most fun experience is to visit the Ribersborgs kallbadhus saunas, near the western port. After a hot steam bath, you can jump stark naked into the sea. There are separate parts for men and women, but in between the two there is also a mixed sauna. The wooden bathhouse is over a century old and is listed as one of the city's historical monuments.
Northeast of Malmö lies the beautiful, medieval university city of Lund. The old center is full of churches and monasteries, some of which have been converted into museums. The impressive Cathedral was built in the twelfth century. In addition, Lund has many houses and streets in Renaissance style.
Much further northeast, on Sweden's southeast coast, lies Kalmar Castle that was built by King Gustav I in the sixteenth century. Already in the twelfth century there was a round defense tower on this spot, but Gustav turned it into a magnificent Renaissance castle. The ceilings, as well as the paneling, are richly decorated.
In the city center you have to pay for street parking. It is easier to park your rental car in one of the fifteen parking garages in and around the center. An electronic system indicates the nearest parking garage that has availability.
Malmö Airport is located 28 kilometers east of the city. You can easily reach the airport by rental car. From Malmö's beltway, take the exit to the E65. The route to the airport is clearly signposted.