The visit to Kristianstad was made in connection with a press trip with Visit Kristianstad, but all thoughts and opinions are, as usual, my own.
During the 13th century, continental Europe began to become overpopulated. Cultivable land became fewer and fewer and the standard of living fell while the climate became colder. But in Scania there were still fertile and protected natural paradises left. Here in between Ivöthe lake and the shores of Lake Oppmanna, among fields and beech forests, herbs and streams, monks from the Roman Catholic Premonstratensian order found their paradise. A divinely beautiful place. It is said that the monks built the Bäckaskog monastery in the place "where the angels sang the loudest". I understand their choice of location. Bäckaskog castle is as beautifully situated today as it was 800 years ago.
Roses, medicinal plants and donuts
Even though we are approaching the end of September, we are greeted by a sea of roses at Bäckaskog castle. The pink roses are still blooming by the castle's western walls, lightly covered with dew and with leaves that bear witness to a long and tough summer. Even the small herb garden is largely still in bloom and reminds us of the monastery's glory days.
The French monks who founded Bäckaskog monastery brought with them knowledge of the healing arts of the time from continental Europe and the monastery became a place where they not only cared for sick brothers, but also cared for the inhabitants of the area. In the herb garden, the monks grew spices and medicinal plants, and there were both orchards and a hop farm. A monastery with both innovative agriculture and knowledge of medicinal plants. A protected little paradise, right up until the Reformation in 1537, when the monastery was dismantled and the buildings belonged to the Danish crown.
The castle park between the two lakes
To the west of the castle lies a verdant castle park between the two lakes. The English-inspired park dates from the mid-19th century when the castle was used as a royal summer residence. Many of the park's trees and plants have been replaced over the years, but several of the large and gnarled trees that stand here are guaranteed to have seen the occasional royal garden party during their lifetime.
We go down towards Oppmannasjön. In addition to the well-ordered paths in the well-kept castle park, there are three marked walking paths in the castle's "wildlife park" if you want to go a little further. Then all you have to do is follow the blue, red or yellow markings into the more overgrown forest area northwest of the castle.
A young oak tree has started to turn yellow and the feet of the apple trees are covered in fallen fruit. The park today offers an autumn cavalcade of incipient color splendor. Quiet and fresh, but with a light autumnal scent of earth and wet leaves. It is hard to imagine that this quiet place is actually said to be one of Sweden's most haunted places.
Is Bäckaskog castle haunted?
A haunted castle and a haunted park? In the darkness of the night you should be able to hear the clatter of hooves in an empty castle park. It is Charles XV's horse Sheik who rides again, from his grave in the wild beech forest by the castle. Guests tell stories of encountering ghosts inside the castle – in the form of a monk, a fisherman's wife, a cooing baby, a girl breaking glass and a boy screaming under the church floor.
During the filming of the TV show "The Stars in the Castle", Little Babs lived in one of the rooms in the castle where an old coachman haunts.
- "It was a kind ghost. It patted my cheek at night", Lill-Babs told Expressen after the recordings. I, who do not believe in ghosts, still think that it feels good that there are kind ghosts who live here. What else can thrive in the place where the angels sing loudest?
Reconstructions and pleasure castles
During the years 1584–1653, the former monastery was rebuilt into a fortified castle complex by Henrik Ramel - Crown Prince Christian IV's governor. Now the castle got its current somewhat sprawling appearance, with the surrounding courtyard and the castle. Brick and plaster mix with old crosses and bricked-up doors. Over the years, different centuries have met the modern architecture and trends of their time. A mosaic of Bäckaskog castle's former owners. A walk in the courtyard makes me play "find five (historical) errors" with myself. Although the game should perhaps rather be called "find five right" here at the castle.
Bäckaskog Castle remained Danish until the Peace of Roskilde in 1658. After over a hundred years as the colonel's residence for the Southern Scanian Cavalry Regiment, the castle became the summer residence of the Swedish Crown Prince Karl in 1845. A time of lust and fanfare and modernization began. The Crown Prince, who was also Duke of Skåne, loved hanging out here and built up a large farm over the years. The park was spruced up according to the gardening trends of the time and lots of exotic trees and plants were planted along the walkable paths.
Today's castles and art
Inside the top floor of the castle is Karl XV's parade floor, well preserved, but as we are not staying at the hotel, we have to content ourselves with looking at the floor from the outside. There are no screenings or guided tours for the public. So there will be no gaudy wallpaper or gilded chairs for us today, but it still feels perfectly fine on this sunny September day. Fall days like this don't grow on trees.
At the entrance to the castle park are the remains of Charles XV's orangery, which during the 19th century was filled with the hottest plants of the time. Today, only the foundations of the orangery remain, but instead we can stop and look at some of the park's works of art. The large pointed heels are available in several variations around the park and adorn the castle with both humor and style.
Before we leave the castle, I take an extra look at my castle. My castle? Yes, indirectly, Bäckaskog castle is also your castle. Today, the Statens Fastighetsverk owns the buildings and the park, so all Swedes basically own a small part of the castle. It feels good to know that we will continue to care for this fine castle as the historical treasure it is for many more years, so it can continue to be a place where the angels will continue to sing for many more years.
How do I get to Bäckaskog castle?
Bäckaskog is located just outside Kristianstad, at Ivöwest shore of the lake. You go here to have a lovely dinner or lunch in a castle environment or to take a walk in the castle park and herb garden.
291 68 Fälkinge
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