Eskilstuna is a city between the large lakes of Mälaren and Hjälmaren. The city has a population of approximately 70.700. It is the administrative center of the municipality with 107.000 inhabitants, making it the 15th largest municipality in Sweden.
Earlier known as the City of Steel, no there are no connections with Super Man, it has a long history of metal processing. It is still today home to some heavy industry with companies such as Volvo, Assa, and Outokumpu.
A Short History of Eskilstuna
There were earlier two trade centers in the area, Tuna, and Fors. The sagas about Sankt Eskil take place around Tuna. Eskil is believed to have been an English monk who was killed by heathens in the end of the 11th century. Tuna eventually changed its name to Eskilstuna sometime during the 13th century.
The church in Tuna was in use as a monastery by the Order of Saint John from the 13th century until Sweden’s protestant reformation under the rule of Gustav Vasa. The monastery was at the time of the reformation demolished to make room for the new castle, Eskilstunahus.
Nearby Torshälla received its town privileges in 1317, but it would take until 1659 before Eskilstuna would receive them. This was after the establishment of smithies in Eskilstuna, most of which were owned by Reinhold Rademacher who moved them here from Riga.
A free town for metal processing was established within the city in 1771. This meant that small manufacturers could produce without worrying about taxes. The Swedish king Karl X Gustav granted the status and it ceased to exist first in 1879. when it was incorporated with the rest of Eskilstuna.
The metal processing did for a long time mean a lot of weapons, but the industrial revolution meant fast development for Eskilstuna when going into the 20th century. The process earned Eskilstuna the name “Stålstaden“, the City of Steel.
Things to Do and See
Eskilstuna is a city with a long history and there are plenty of museums here to guide you through the different times. Once you or the kids have had enough of the old history, there is still a zoo to visit. Maybe you have some time to enjoy the Swedish fauna and flora that is right around the corner?
This is a zoo and amusement park. Park rides are mixed with the possibility to encounter exotic animals such as cheetahs, Asian lions, and the komodo dragon.
The Rademacher Forges
The Rademacher Forges have played an important part in the development of Eskilstuna. Here the metal processing lasted for 350 years. Today the area is a cultural reserve and acts as an open-air museum, giving visitors an insight into the traditional production of knives, scissors, needles, and more.
The city museum is located in the center of Eskilstuna and offers exhibitions with a local touch. This is the place to get further insight into the city’s past and present.
Munktellmuseet offers its visitors to experience over 180 years of Swedish industrial history. It is located in the old industrial neighborhood of Munktellstaden. It was Johan Theofron Munktell who established the manufacturing industry here with the production of heavy machinery such as tractors.
A copy of Eskilstunakistan can be found at the Eskilstuna Kloster Church. Eskilstunakistan is a stone chest, a Christian grave monument, with engravings similar to the ones found on rune stones. The one in Eskilstuna was the first one of its kind in Sweden when it was found in 1912.
Rune Stones at Balsta
A short distance outside of Eskilstuna you can find a few of the many rune stones in the area. There are three rune stones at Balsta. Two of them are of the kind raised in memory of people who died during the Viking explorations in Russia, while the third stone was once part of a bridge. Information about which event it describes is limited.
How to get to Eskilstuna
- Flights: The closest airports are Stockholm Västerås Airport (VST) 52 kilometers away and Stockholm Skavsta Airport (NYO) 82 kilometers away. They both offer international flights to Europe. Sweden’s main airport, Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN), is located 149 kilometers away for more national and international flight options.
- Car: Eskilstuna is located along E20 between Strängnäs and Arboga.
- Train: Eskilstuna Centralstation has train connections with Arboga, Linköping, Sala, Stockholm, and Västerås.
- Bus: Regional buses connect Eskilstuna with the surrounding region.
The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:
- Stockholm – 113 kilometers (1 h 15 min)
- Gothenburg – 372 kilometers (4 h 21 min)
- Malmö – 562 kilometers (5 h 46 min)
- Linköping – 149 kilometers (1 h 52 min)
- Kiruna – 1250 kilometers (14 h 27 min)