Ostersund, Sweden’s airport is in the suburb Froson, a large island, named for Forja, a German fertility goddess. This island was an important assembly site and place of sacrifice during the Pre-Bronze Age, over 2,000 years ago. This island was Christianized about one thousand years ago. You can follow a trail that leads to an Iron Age Viking burial ground and another to a fourteenth century farmhouse, which the same family has occupied for all those centuries!
Your first stop should be at the Frostornet Tower. On a clear day you can see all the way to Norway. Enjoy some delicious Swedish coffee or lunch in the lovely snack bar there. If you ascend by elevator and rue the fact that the glass enclosure keeps you warm but interfere with your photos, use the stairs to descend, and you’ll get some marvelous photo shots.
See Froson Kyrke
In the middle and highest point of the island was a historic tree, which was at one time the place of sacrifice for ancient religious rites. Historians deduce that nine of many kinds of animals, including humans, were sacrificed here every nine years in the pre-Christian era. In the twelfth century, when Sweden had become a Christian kingdom, Froson Kyrke was built to sanctify the effects of pagan fertility rites. The church is still there, reconstructed several times after fires. An intricate, wooden bell tower is from the 1700’s. Of note is a thirteenth century burial stone carved with a Viking man and ancient inscription.
Sommarhagen, Home of Composer
Visit the lovely Sommarhagen, home of composer and music critic, WilhelmPeterson-Bergen. A bachelor, he found it necessary to be married to his music. His harsh critiques made him unpopular at first in Stockholm, but with his beautiful compositions he gained fame and popularity through the first quarter of the twentieth century and was highly acclaimed before his death. His mother was his first music teacher and funded his education and early career. She left the money for this summer home, which he built in her memory. A beautiful diamond-shaped red window in the living room captures the setting sunlight in a way that creates a warm glow on the hearth, which Wilhelm said is “Mother’s eye.” The house was designed and decorated under Wilhelm’s careful instructions and poetic, artistic insights. The windows frame the natural landscapes, which he considered his paintings and his inspiration. His most famous compositions are his collection of lyrical piano pieces and his five operas, one of which is performed by local people every summer at Froson Church where he is buried.
Northern Sweden’s only rune stone is next to the bridge to Ostersund at Hornsberg Church. As you cross the lake search for Storjo, the monster of the lake, famed from many sitings since 1635. In winter you can cross the frozen lake to Ostersund by skis, skates, or driving on the ice, more than three meters (yards) thick! Of course there is the bridges for cars and also a separate bicycle/walking bridge.
Near Sweden’s Largest Ski Area
From Froson/Ostersund you are an easy drive to the town of Are, named for its “wonderful, healthy air,” when it was discovered by enthusiastic, health-conscious tourists in the early twentieth century. With Sweden’s largest ski area, it is a popular site for winter sports, and of course, lighted slopes since it is dark here for three months. However, between seasons you will hardly even be able to buy a cup of coffee because everyone leaves for a warmer holiday.