Sweden // The southwest //

South of the centre

Tourists are still rarely encouraged to venture further south of the city than the canal banks that enclose the old town, but those who do are rewarded with the hip multicultural district around Möllenvångstorget. The buildings and areas off Amiralsgatan, to the southeast, give an interesting insight into Malmö’s mix of cultures and its Social Democratic roots (the city has been at the forefront of left-wing politics for the last century, and was central to the creation and development of Sweden’s Social Democratic Party). Around Fersens väg, several blocks west of Amiralsgatan, there are some charming enclaves of antique shops, cafés and quirky buildings, and the impressive Konsthall art exhibition centre.

South towards the Konsthall

Heading south from Malmöhus along Slottsgatan, first cross over Regementsgatan and then cut across three blocks east to cobbled Södra Förstadsgatan; at no. 4 is a splendid house designed in 1904, its National Romantic facade covered with flower and animal motifs. A little further along the same road at no. 18, the Victoriateatern is Sweden’s oldest still-operating cinema, dating from 1912; it’s all fine Art Nouveau swirls of dark oak and bevelled glass. Back on Fersens väg (the southward continuation of Slottsgatan after crossing Regementsgatan), you’ll pass the city theatre on your right, with its amusing sculpture of tiers of people – the naked supporting the clothed on their shoulders.

Konsthall

Arriving at St Johannesgatan, head for the single-storey glass and concrete building at no. 7: the Konsthall, an enormous white-painted space showing vast modern works in regular temporary exhibitions. There’s lots of room to stand back and take in the visual feast.

Folkets park

From the canal, head east along Regementsgatan and turn right into Amiralsgatan, from where it’s a ten-minute walk south to Folkets park, Sweden’s oldest existing public park, which was once the pride of the community. Recently restored with an elegant new water feature at the Möllevången exit, Folkets park contains a basic amusement park, and at its centre, a ballroom named the Moriskan, an odd, low building with Russian-style golden domes topped with crescents. Both the park and the ballroom are now privately owned, a far cry from the original aims of the park’s Social Democratic founders. Severe carved busts of these city fathers are dotted all over the park. The socialist agitator August Palm made the first of his several historic speeches here in 1881, marking the beginning of a 66-year period of unbroken Social Democratic rule in Sweden.

South to Möllevångstorget

More interesting than the giant twirling teacup fun rides in Folkets park is the multicultural character of the city south from here. Strolling from the park’s southern exit down Möllevången to Möllevångstorget, you enter an area populated almost entirely by people of non-Swedish descent, where Arab, Asian and Balkan émigré families predominate. The vast square is a haven of exotic food stores, side by side with shops selling pure junk and more recently established Chinese restaurants and karaoke pubs. On a hot summer afternoon it’s easy to forget you’re in Sweden at all, the more makeshift and ramshackle atmosphere around the bright fruit and veg stands contrasting with the clean, clinical order of the average Swedish neighbourhood. It’s worth taking a close look at the provocative sculpture at the square’s centre: four naked, bronze men strain under the colossal weight of a huge chunk of rock bearing carved representations of Malmö’s smoking chimneys, while two naked women press their hands into the men’s backs in support. It’s a poignant image, marrying toil in a city founded on limestone-quarrying with the Social Democratic vision of the working man’s struggle.

The Turning Torso

From the western side of Malmöhus, Malmö’s most breathtaking sight looms on the horizon: the Turning Torso. An easy walk north along Mariedalsvägen, crossing the canal over Varvsbron, leads you to Västra Varvsgatan, which streaks in a straight line to the city’s Västra Hamnen district, home to the skyscraper that bears down on you as you approach. The tallest building in Scandinavia, this sleek, twisting tower of steel curves 90° clockwise as it rises to a height of 190m above the ground. It was designed to reshape the city skyline that had been dominated for decades by the massive Kockum shipyard crane, and now houses luxury flats and penthouses.

Malmö’s beaches

Separated from the Turning Torso by delightful Ribersborg park, Malmö’s long stretch of sandy beaches stretches several kilometres to the old limestone-quarrying area of Limhamn to the southwest. Fringed by dunes and grassland, the beaches, popular with young families as the water remains shallow for several metres out to sea, are numbered according to the jetty which gives access into the water. At jetty #1, the Ribersborgs kallbadhus is a cold-water bathhouse offering separate-sex nude bathing areas and sauna whilst the last jetty, #10, denotes Malmö’s popular nudist beach.