In 1628, the Swedish warship Vasa set off on its maiden voyage from Stockholm harbor towards Poland, where a war was raging in the Baltic. Built by 400 craftsmen at the royal shipyard at Stockholm, the ship was richly decorated as a symbol of the king's ambitions for Sweden and himself. It was 69 meters long and was fitted with 64 cannons, and upon completion, it was of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world of that time. Unfortunately, Vasa was too top heavy and dangerously unstable. Despite the lack of stability, the king was eager to see her in battle and pushed her to sea. On the day of departure, a swelling crowd gathered at the harbor to watch the ship leave. Over a hundred crewmen along with women and children were on board as the crew was permitted to take family and guests along for the first part of the passage. After sailing just 1,300 meters, at the first strong breeze, the ship foundered, leaned over and sank. Around 30 people lost their lives.
Once the ship’s valuable bronze cannons were salvaged, Vasa was mostly forgotten, until she was located and recovered from the shallow waters in 1961. With a largely intact hull, the ship was housed in a temporary museum called Wasavarvet ("The Wasa Shipyard") until 1988 and then she was moved to the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. Today, the ship is one of Sweden's most popular tourist attractions and is seen by a million visitors each year.
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