The history of Vaxholm

Mikaela Lodén
Mikaela Lodén
Vaxholm was granted a town charter in 1647, but the region already had permanent settlements a thousand years ago. For a long time, life on the island consisted mainly of fishing, military activities, and summer guests.

From Vikings to Gustav Vasa

There were small villages on Bogesundslandet, Rindö and Resarö in the Viking Era. People began settling on Vaxön in the late 13th century, and in the mid-16th century King Gustav Vasa ordered the construction of a fortress between Vaxön and Rindö to defend the approach to Stockholm.

Vaxholm Citadel

Gradually, the town of Vaxholm grew up on Vaxön, across from the fortress. The Vaxholm Citadel, the old fortress, still reigns over the sound outside the village. A visit there will take you all the way back to the days when the Citadel was its own little community with top military officials, soldiers, officers’ wives, maids and prisoners. You can trace the evolution of the archipelago defences over 500 years at the Vaxholm Fortress Museum.

Read more about the Citadel here

Vaxholm herring

The primary occupation of the islanders in the late 19th century was fishing. Vaxholm herring was very popular in Stockholm, brought to the market square in the capital city every morning and sold fresh, not salted. Fishermen rowed great distances to catch the herring, sometimes all the way out to Sandhamn. Even today, Vaxholm is known for its herring – a delicacy that is still served in local restaurants. Come and enjoy it on site!

Resort life

From the late 1860s until a bit into the 20th century, Vaxholm was a resort town for bathers. Wealthy Stockholmers came here for the fresh air – Stockholm had an unhealthy environment, with stinking sewers and no waste collection. Vaxholm offered several forms of bathing, in cold bathhouses, warm bathhouses and a salt-and-malt-infused mud bath with steam. Then there were the Rindö baths, with Europe’s most mineral-rich waters. The archipelago town became a magnet for summer guests.

The past meets the present

Today, you can enjoy a wonderful blend of boating, elegant wooden houses with ‘punsch verandas’ and bustling streets here. All in a glittering, bountiful island environment. If you pick the right dates, you can be here for Archipelago Ferry Day, the Herring Row, the archipelago market, the Christmas market or one of our many other enjoyable events.

Tips on Vaxholm’s exciting history