A week of immersion in history
10.08.2008 - 10.08.2008
Every year in August for the last 25 years, a medieval festival has been organised in Visby. It is one of the most important tourist attractions the island can offer and people come from all over Europe to imagine themselves living in another era. During the week one may attend tournaments, lectures, drama, concerts, and exhibitions, many of the latter taking place in one or other of the numerous medieval church ruins this town can offer. The returning visitor inevitably decides to join whole heartedly in the fun and dresses up in medieval finery, as the picture below testifies. This blend of people in medieval outfit and ordinary contemporary clothing is typical. Since so many dresses for the occasion, you don't feel strange at all if you should purchase a medieval costume and wear it through the week in one of the many market booths selling them.
This year my friends and I arrived on the very last day, but we did visit the medieval fair in the afternoon. The merchandise must be adapted to the theme and thus hold a higher quality than in most open air markets of similar kind today. The picture below is one example of the exquisite copies of historic glassware that one may purchase here, all of the pieces hand made of course and true replicas.
The food at the fair also follow the theme, and I was sore tempted to buy a caramelized apple when I stumbled on this booth. The keg of course contains elderberry juice! Sweet and refreshening. There is lots of appetizing regional dishes being served through the fair, as well as new products inspired by historic precedent. One may find local cheese, local bread, smoked lamb and other delicacies.
A lot of the merchandise on sale is actually produced by craftspeople during the week, here a peek at a smith who was busy making a sword.
A lot of people who are into reenactment of the past come to Visby, many of them crafters themselves and always dressed to play the part as this sales woman with her tame ferret.
Although I missed the tournament this year, at least I was pleasantly surprised by the opportunity of watching the local team sport pärk, a Gotland variant of soccer, cricket, and volleyball all rolled into one. Naturally, the players were all in costume.
Completing the circuit of the market I was happy to stumble upon this choir of school girls singing popular ditties from the Middle Ages.
After visiting the fair, we went past the medieval chapter house which is open to the public during the summer. In the upper room recently restored I found this knight and his lap dog pensively pondering the weather outside the windows. Perhaps an instance of medieval blues?