Staying in Ystad, you’ll soon get acquainted with a tradition that harks back to the seventeenth century: from a room in St Maria church watchtower, a night watchman (tornväktaren) sounds a bugle every fifteen minutes from 9.15pm to 1am. The haunting sound isn’t disturbing, though it’s audible wherever you stay in the centre. The sounding through the night was to assure the town that the watchman was still awake (until the mid-nineteenth century, he was liable to be executed if he slept on duty); however, the real purpose of this activity was as a safeguard against the outbreak of fire. The idea was that if one of the thatched cottages went up in flames, the bugle would sound repeatedly for all to go and help extinguish the blaze. The melancholic bellowing only ceased during World War II, though then the residents complained they couldn’t sleep in the unbroken silence. If you look carefully from Stortorget, you can just see the instrument appear at little openings in the tower walls each time it’s played.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Sweden features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Why Gothenburg should be your next European city break

Why Gothenburg should be your next European city break

So gloomy they named it goth? Not in the slightest. This town can certainly do black-eyeliner bleak with the best of them – anywhere with docklands can, and G…

12 Oct 2017 • Neil McQuillian insert_drive_file Article
Scandinavia for first-timers: 7 ideas for short breaks

Scandinavia for first-timers: 7 ideas for short breaks

On the face of it, Scandinavia isn’t a very sensible place for a holiday. For one thing, it’s almost always going to be colder than the place you’re leavi…

31 Mar 2017 • Steve Vickers insert_drive_file Article
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right