Blå Jungfrun

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Blå Jungfrun National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Blå Jungfrun, bred.jpg
Map showing the location of Blå Jungfrun National Park
Map showing the location of Blå Jungfrun National Park
Blå Jungfrun
Position of Blå Jungfrun
Location Kalmar County, Sweden
Nearest city Oskarshamn
Coordinates 57°15.1′N 16°47.6′E / 57.2517°N 16.7933°E / 57.2517; 16.7933Coordinates: 57°15.1′N 16°47.6′E / 57.2517°N 16.7933°E / 57.2517; 16.7933
Area 1.98 km2 (0.76 sq mi)[1]
Established 1926, extended 1988[1]
Visitors 9,700 (in 1976)
Governing body Naturvårdsverket
Website Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

Blå Jungfrun ("[the] blue virgin" or "[the] blue maid[en]"), or "Blåkulla" ("Blockula"), is a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. It is situated in the Kalmar Strait, between the mainland province of Småland and the island province of Öland. Administratively, the uninhabited island is part of the municipality of Oskarshamn and covers an area of approximately 0.7 square kilometres (0.27 sq mi) with a mean height above sea level of 86 metres (282 ft). Home to black guillemots and a Swedish National Park since 1926, everyman's right at Blå Jungfrun is limited with visitors prohibited from staying overnight on the island or making fires.

The island consists partly of bare rock with the remainder covered in dense hardwood forest. There are several caves and an ancient stone labyrinth from which it is forbidden to remove stones.

Detail of the stone labyrinth on Blå Jungfrun.

Mythology[edit]

The island plays an important role in Swedish folklore, where it is viewed as an evil and magical place. The name Blå Jungfrun was originally used by sailors to avoid provoking the evil spirits who dwelt on the island. According to a widespread belief, related already by Olaus Magnus in 1555, witches meet there each Maundy Thursday. Carl Linnaeus, who visited the island in 1741, was sceptical:

Women and fairy-tales ... generally say that all witches will go here (truly a rather difficult journey) each Maundy Thursday; but those who have visited the place once are not likely to return, and should find out the reason for the fable: If any place in the world looks hideous, this is surely one of the most cruel.

According to tradition, anyone who removes a stone from the island will suffer from bad luck until it is returned. Oskarshamn yearly receives stone shipments from people, often with an accompanying letter of warning describing the misfortunes and disasters which happened to them after removing a stone.

Park establishment[edit]

Between 1904-1925 the red granite of Blå Jungfrun was extracted in three quarries on the south of the island. It was exported chiefly to Germany as decorative stone. The destruction led to efforts to protect the island. A donation from the Swedish entrepreneur Torsten Kreuger made it possible to acquire the island and stop the quarrying. The national park was established on February 5, 1926 by the Swedish Government.[2]

Tourism[edit]

In summer, the island can be visited by tour boats from Oskarshamn or from Byxelkrok.[3] Regular trips began in the 1950s. A park guide on Blå Jungfrun informs the visitors about the national park and its regulations. The visit on the island lasts for about 3,5 hours.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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