The southern Swedish town of Lund buzzes with a bohemian university atmosphere that permeates its medieval streets. Packed into a few streets are an array of museums, a grand cathedral and a fine collection of preserved Swedish buildings from the past.
The spires of the grey monochromatic cathedral (built during Danish rule) tower above the town. The exterior of the cathedral is decorated with an array of dramatic carvings of grotesque animals and birds to help keep the evil spirits at bay.
Standing alone in the cathedral’s crypt is an eerie experience. The floor is covered in tombstones. In limited light, the spirits of its 900 years moodily wander among the thick stone pillars – the crypt seems unchanged since it was built. Two stories emanate from the crypt to add to its mystique. One tells of a proud but tiny archbishop Gunnarsson so chastened by his lack of height that he demanded that his effigy should be tall and dignified.
The other has a more traditional Norse flavour. A giant troll, named Finn, wandering past the site of the cathedral offered to build a church. The payment would be the priest’s eyes and heart unless he could guess the troll’s name. Alarmingly, the troll was powerful and an adept builder, quickly assembling the cathedral. With only the final pillar to set, the priest lay down in a field in an abject state of panic, fearing a loss of his eyesight, when the tuneful words of a troll-woman included the troll’s name. He rushed back to the church and yelled Finn when the troll tried to pull a pillar out of the ground to knock over the cathedral. At that point Finn was turned to stone with his towering figure still in evidence in the crypt with empty eye sockets.
The interior of the cathedral is extremely plain but has a feeling of grandeur. However the undoubted highlight is a fascinating astronomical clock located near the entrance. Built in 1423 (though hidden in boxes in the cathedral vault for a number of centuries), the extraordinary mechanisms for the time slowly move a variety of dials and wheels that unveil a plethora of astronomical information from phases of the moon, the location of the astrological signs and the position of the sun at sunset.
The bottom of the clock shows a huge wheel, good till 2123 (unlike the Mayans, not everyone is finishing their calendars at 2012!!) that highlight the relevant saint day (with every day appears to be assigned to someone) and the various religious holidays and festivals (including those that vary from year to year). The clock is absorbing with many features being discovered the longer that you spend looking at its detail.
Twice a day the clock celebrates the striking of an hour as trumpeters raise their instruments and play a medieval hymn through the cathedral’s pipe organ while the Three Kings and their servants quickly bow and parade past Mary and a baby Jesus.
Read the second article to see an amazing nose museum and Lund’s superb collection of old Swedish buildings.
Note: Click here for an excellent 360 degree panorama of the cathedral. Click on the different numbers for different viewpoints including the crypt.