Jamtli – an exciting journey through the history of Jämtland 

During our visit to Östersund earlier this week I took my daughter to Jamtli, a place close to my heart. A place my mother often took me and my little sister, when we were kids. What is Jamtli? It’s a whole world of wonder! Jamtli covers a big area in the outskirts of the city of Östersund (Sweden.) There is an indoor museum with some permanent exhibitions about Vikings, The Sámi people – Sweden’s indigenous people, and how it was to live in Sweden 100+ years ago. The indoor museum also have temporary exhibitions, this time we viewed one thought provoking exhibition about food, one exhibition about democracy, and an art exhibition of famous Swedish painters. Jamtli offers an exciting journey through the history of Jämtland (and Härjedalen.)

There is also a large acres of an open-air museum of historic farms and houses. They have local breeds of farm animals; cows, sheep, goats, pigs, hen, horses etc. We took a guided tour of the open-air museum, with a Christmas theme. We learned about how it was to celebrate Christmas in Sweden in the 1850-1950, how people prepared for Christmas and celebrated Christmas. The tour included a tour inside time typical farm houses decorated for Christmas. It was most interesting to see. 

A farm house from the 1850’s
A regular well-to-do farm usually had several outbuildings, such as a hay barn, a house for the workers and elderly, a root cellar, and a barn.
Mountain cows at Jamtli.
Klövsjö sheep at Jamtli.
Most of the houses at Jamtli are original farm houses, the church is a new built, made the way they traditionally looked in the 1800’s. We were allowed to enter the church and it was small, but very beautiful on the inside. There was no heating, and the outside temperatures were around 5F..the temperature indoors were about the same.

Jamtli often showcase local craftsmen’s handicraft and local artists. They have a wonderful Christmas market, that is a highlight of the year for many kids. Growing up I learned how to process wool by hand at Jamtli. They often have practical activities like that for children, especially in the summer time, including animal husbandry. We are planning another visit this coming summer. One of the things my daughter appreciated the most was going through the interactive part of the museum, where she could try many things the way they used to be done a hundred years ago. 

A beautiful wooden horse standing about 14hh, showing the main way of transportation back in the days.
The permanent exhibition at Jamtli showcase many of the animals that lives in the surrounding forests, including the lynx.
…and the brown bear.

My daughter was very fascinated about the Sami’s wooden tents “lappkåtor”, and the area of the museum where you can learn about how they live/lived. The Sami are one of the world’s indigenous people, and one of Sweden’s official national minorities. There are about 20 000 Sami people living in Sweden at the moment, they own about 260 000 reindeer. They have a similar dispute over grazing rights that ranchers all over the world experience. Sami people are traditionally nomadic, but many modern day Sami have a permanent residence somewhere, and a cabin in the mountains for the grazing season. There are 51 Sami villages in Sweden, where the Sami have special rights to the land, fishing, hunting, building facilities they need for reindeer husbandry etc. Just like the Natives in the US, the Sami culture have a great history of storytelling. Their craftsmanship is well known, I personally enjoy looking at their knives and other tools when opportunity arises. I sometimes purchase smoked reindeer meat from a special store they have here in Falun (most Sami live further north from where I live.) I would love to take my daughter to a real Sami village, and not just a site at the museum, even if that is very interesting, and can spark a greater interest in their traditions. 

Lappkåta
Inside the Sami house. (The ones that I’ve been inside in real Sami villages have been larger, at least that is how I remember them.)
A beautiful reindeer. The Sami use every part of the reindeer.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of Jamtli. It’s a place you never get tired of. The permanent exhibitions are beautiful, and the temporary exhibitions are always of very high quality. The activities changes throughout the seasons, which makes visiting interesting as well. The gift shop have beautiful handicrafts for sale, and a most interesting section of hard to find books.

We will leave you with this photo from Jamtli’s cafe. See you soon!

Love,

Maria

18 responses to “Jamtli – an exciting journey through the history of Jämtland ”

  1. Happy New Year, Maria and family! This looks like a great place to visit, with so much history that is so similar to our indigenous Americans as you pointed out. Your daughter’s snack looks really good! ❤️

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    • Thank you John! Happy New Year! It is a wonderful place to visit, for adults and children alike. There is an entrance fee to enter the indoor activities, and to participate in the guided tours, but the open-air museum is free and widely used as a beautiful setting to go for walks and photograph landscapes.

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  2. Thanks so much for the tour and photographs. I would like to think that the living spaces in Norway of my Sami ancestors would be similar to those you saw. I do so enjoy visiting your blog. Thanks so much for the joy you give me. Best wishes to you and yours for this new year. ::hugs:: Lizl

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    • I didn’t know that you had Sami ancestors, how interesting! The region of Sápmi encompasses large northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and of the Murmansk Oblast, Russia, most of the Kola Peninsula in particular. I bet their housing is similar. They have their own language and schools, even though many attend regular schools as well.
      Thank you for your most kind comment. Have a wonderful Happy new Year Lizl! ❤

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  3. What a lovely place to visit! I love these kinds of museum and it’s always interesting to discover bits of how life was like in the past. I’ve visited a similar place in Belfast, Belfast folk museum, and would love to go back!
    The old Swedish farmhouses and surroundings remind me so much of where I grew up, and places we used to visit in Orsa finnmark (I’ll have to write something about that sometime), an area that I love immensely.

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    • Yes indeed! I love these kind of places, and I would love to have an old farmhouse in Orsa finnmark. That is a wonderful area! I have some found childhood memories from Orsa finnmark, exploring with my sister. Jämtland and Dalarna have so many amazing places, with an interesting history. Knowing some history of a place makes me feel more connected to it. I would love to read a post about Orsa finnmark, if you write one.
      Happy New Year!

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  4. What a wonderful outing and so educational for you both, Maria! We called those Living History centers in areas of California. Your images are amazing and I’m glad your daughter was fascinated and looks forward to going back! I’m chucking at the pics with the farm and outbuildings in the snow–reminds me of home at the moment!

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    • Yes, it was blast 🙂 Thank you, I loved sharing the experience with you. It’s wonderful that we’ve had so much snow this winter, don’t you think? All the white sure light things up. Happy, Happy New Year!

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  5. An interesting journey through Jamtland. I would love to see an authentic Sami village as well. But would they be keen for tourists to come traipsing through when they are working the land, I wonder? What is the material used for the sides of the Lappkata?

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    • Actually they are very much depending on the tourists nowadays, sadly. Most villages welcome tourists. Their houses are built by materials available to them, for the most part tree trunks from birch, peat moss, twigs, bark and animal skins.

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      • A little bit sad that they are so reliant on the tourist dollar but what alternatives do they have if they want to preserve their lifestyle as a living tradition and not something that is just seen in a museum. I have a small part of Sami DNA in my makeup and probably why I find their culture and especially their songs so intriguing.

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