Moody in Malmo
Watching television one very dark damp night recently we were treated to some unlikely story about Swedish murder and mayhem – something which that country now seems famous for thanks to the various TV crime series which have been so popular, in the UK at least.
The the Wallander programme reminded me of the trips I’ve taken out there over the years – including a couple to Malmo.
The first time I actually stayed in the city was odd, because I wasn’t really meant to be there at all, but in another country. Scandinavians seem, on the face of it anyway, to be a lot less nationalistic than those of us living in the EU zone further south. You cannot, for instance, imagine the tourist people in Dover saying to a foreign journalist: “Come and visit our wonderful town and area, but we’ve arranged for you to stay just across the Channel in France.”
That’s more or less what the Danish PR people did to me. “Copenhagen is absolutely full that week thanks to a huge medical conference going on in the city,” they said. “So we’re putting you up in Malmo instead.”
Malmo, of course, is in Sweden but that doesn’t matter to those promoting the area because they’ve joined forces to market the entire region as a whole. And why not? One of the most efficient train services in the world links the two countries and it’s just as quick to do the 15 minute journey to central Malmo from Copenhagen International Airport as it is to reach the heart of Denmark’s capital city.
The train, and the motorway, swoop first underwater in a wide tunnel, then high above it on the vast Oresund bridge, in one of the longest cross channel links in Europe.
With just under 300,000 inhabitants Malmö, situated in the province of Scania, is the third largest city in Sweden. It used to be a huge industrial port but since Western factories all went off to places like China the city has been busy reinventing itself with impressive architectural developments having attracted a host of new biotech and IT companies.
Malmö University is one of the most important in Scandinavia and the town certainly has a lively young feel to it, even though there are plenty of ancient buildings and forts to be found around the place.
We found the relaxed, laid back, feel balanced nicely with our daily trips over to Copenhagen, which is far, far bigger and busier. Sweden is also slightly less expensive – though I wasn’t to know that the first time I nearly passed out after being charged £5 for a pint of weak beer.
It was only when I delved into the history of the place that I realised why there seems to be so little in the way of obvious flag-waving going on between the two cities/countries. This part of Sweden was Danish for centuries – in the 15th century, indeed, Malmö became one of Denmark’s largest and most frequented communities.
It was famous for its massive herring fishery and was generally deemed to be a very important place indeed – so much so that a new citadel was constructed to defend the town in 1434. The fortress, known today as Malmöhus, was part of a system of defences that made Malmö Sweden’s most fortified city. Now only the Malmöhus remains and it plays host to the city’s museum.
But as the photo below shows, there is something unbelievably moody about the low flat Swedish countryside – no wonder they shoot dark film-noir-esque crime series there…