Glimmingehus is referred to at various places as a castle, a fortress, a keep, or a fortified manor. If you step inside, you will think you are indeed inside a full-fledged castle. So no matter which description you decide to give it yourself, it is well worth visiting if you find yourself in Southern Sweden (Skane.) While researching a book on area castles I have come upon various figures also. Some folks figure there to be over 150 castles in Skane. Others as high as 350. I now believe this disparity in number comes down to the individual definition of Castle. for my purposes, I will refer to Glimmingehus as a Fortress.
I think we all agree that places like The Tower of London are castles without argument. Keeps are usually the main defensive building of a castle. Fortified manors are huge houses which have been build super-strong, but not usually the place to house knights. A Fortress, however, is usually the home of a high ranking knight that has the fortifications of a castle, if not the shear size. It usually resembles one side of a usual stone castle. This is what Glimmingehus is.
The walls of Glimmingehus are a full 2 meters think and made of brick. It is surrounded by a full moat, and has two much smaller buildings attached at the corners making it a bit of a ‘U’ shape. This fortress is tall like a castle keep to see for miles and miles if anyone is approaching, and has various places for archers. It also has a nice spot from which to pour burning liquids, and inside are a whole bunch of death traps in case an opposing army gains entry. Glimmingehus is cool as hell.
There is some controversy on as to when exactly Glimmingehus was first built. It is easy enough to figure out that that the most famous of its owners was Jens Holgersen Olfstand. He took over the plot of land and erected what now stands in 1499. The problem is, there is evidence that something more elaborate may have stood on this spot prior to that. Glimmingehus is the spot of a whole lot of archaeological and historical research because of this. Experts come here from all over the world on a regular basis to try to be the first to sort it all out. Another problem with that date is that even though the supposes corner stone quite clearly states 1499, the design and rock belie a much older structure.
At any rate, While Malmohus Slott is the oldest Renaissance Castle still standing in Sweden, Glimmingehus Fortress is the oldest Medieval manor still standing in Scandinavia. It isn’t so much that castles and fortresses weren’t being built in the area, but more a problem of the Denmark-Swedish wars. When Denmark took Skane back from Sweden, ol’ Valdemar (the king of Denmark) set about destroying as many of the magnificent structures as possible. Luckily, he missed Glimmingehus, probably on purpose since Jens is now called ‘The Last True Knight’ of Denmark. Sweden later sent Denmark packing again and took Skane once and for all. Glimmingehus was such a vital part of this war that its image now graces the back of the 20 bill of Swedish Kronor.
As for tourist value, this famous fortress is well worth visiting. It honestly doesn’t look like all that when you first pull up, but go ahead and do it anyway. The minute you walk up the steps to that medieval entry way, you will feel like you should be dressed in medieval garb. Everything has been preserved to the original period and it is just amazing to see. On the bottom floor, do take a close look at the windows. Now go up a flight or two and look at those windows. The bottom floor windows were put in backwards. Funny bit, that. Glimmingehus is no joke, though.
The adjacent buildings now number 3 making it into a square. Inside these smaller buildings are a small museum, a nice cafe with courtyard seating, and a small but well appointed gift shop. Entrance to the Glimmingehus Fortress grounds is just 60SEK for anyone over 18, free for under 18 when accompanied by an adult. That is just under 10 US bucks each given the current exchange rate, and well worth the price.
Whether you decide to call Glimmingehus a castle, fortified manor, keep, or fortress, we will agree that the place is a wonder to behold. If you have any interest in Scandinavian history in general, Swedish or Danish history in particular… or just love the romance of the middle-ages, you owe it to yourself to make the trip to Glimmingehus.