1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mälar

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MÄLAR, a lake of Sweden, extending 73 m. westward from Stockholm, which lies at its junction with the Saltsjö, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The height of the lake is normally only from 11 in. to 2 ft. above sea-level, and its outflow is sometimes reversed. The area is 449 sq. m. The bottom consists of a series of basins separate by ridges from which rise numerous islands. The deepest sounding is 210 ft. The outline is very irregular, the mean breadth being about 15 m., but an arm extends northward for 30 m. nearly to the city of Upsala with many ramifications. The area of the drainage basin is 8789 sq. m., of which 1124 are occupied by lakes. The navigable connexions with the lake are—(1) with lake Hjelmar to the south-west by the Arboga river and the Hjelmar canal; and by the Eskilstuna river and the Thorshälla canal; (2) with the Baltic southward through the Södertelge canal, the route followed by the Göta canal steamers; (3) with the Baltic by two channels at Stockholm. The more important towns, besides Stockholm, are Vesterås on the north, Södertelge and Eskilstuna near the south shore. The lake offers a field for recreation fully appreciated by the inhabitants of the capital, and many of those whose business lies at Stockholm have their residences on the shores of Mälar. On Drottningholm (Queen’s Island, named from Catherine, wife of John III.) is a palace with a fine park and formal gardens. John III. built a palace at the close of the 16th century, but the existing building, by Nicodemus Tessin and his son Nicodemus, dates from the second half of the 17th century. At Mariefred on the south shore there is the castle of Gripsholm (1537), built by Gustavus Vasa, a picturesque erection with four towers, richly adorned within, and containing a large collection of portraits. Strengnäs, on the same shore, became an episcopal see in 1291, when the fine cathedral, much altered since, was consecrated. In the episcopal palace, a building of the 15th century now used as a school, Gustavus Vasa was elected to the throne of Sweden in 1523. On the northward arm of the lake is the palace of Rosenberg, used as a school of gunnery, in a well-wooded park. On a branch of the same arm is Sigtuna, a village whose ruined churches are a memorial of its rank among the principal towns of Sweden after its foundation in the 11th century. Remains prove that on Björkö, an island in the eastern part of the lake, there was a large settlement of earlier importance than Sigtuna. Here a cross commemorates the preaching of Christianity by St Ansgar in 829. Finally, on the northern arm about 10 m. south of Upsala, there is the château of Skokloster, occupying the site of a monastery, and presented by Gustavus Adolphus to Marshal Herman Wrangel, whose son Charles Gustavus Wrangel stored it with a remarkable collection of trophies from Germany, taken during the Thirty Years’ War; including a library, an armoury, and a great accumulation of curios.