The Metropolitan Zone

The southwestern corner of Skåne is where Sweden meets the rest of Europe, as well as where the majority of the county’s population can be found. But it’s not all about the urban…

The southwestern corner of Skåne boasts both Sweden’s third-largest city, the bustling and multicultural Malmö, and one of its very oldest, the genteel university town of Lund. They are more closely connected than ever before, thanks to the high-speed rail line between them, which still follows the route of the first railway ever built in the country. This combination of bookish scholarship and street smarts is a big part of what Skåne is known for, within Sweden and beyond.

Malmö in particular, where the Swedish side of the Öresund bridge comes to land, is a gateway to Denmark and Europe; it’s often referred to as the least Swedish of Swedish cities, though whether it’s meant as compliment or an insult depends very much on who exactly is saying it! Most Malmöites would simply shrug and tell you that Malmö is its own thing—and whether you’re interested in cutting-edge culinary delights, unusual intentional communities, high-tech hotels or radical urban agriculture, the evidence is easily found.

Lund, meanwhile, wears its heritage like a graduation robe, with the old university campus as its beating heart—though it’s not without its more modern neighbourhoods, or its history of protest and resistance. Nonetheless, the intellectual life is reflected everywhere, from the museums to the botanical gardens.

It’s not all big-city bustle, though; life feels a little different out along the coastline. To the south of the main metropolitan area, the town of Trelleborg punches well above its weight for its size, thanks in part to its role as a ferryport connecting Sweden to Germany, Poland, and other Baltic nations, but also increasingly as a base for exploring the artsy villages of Sö’rlen. Landskrona lies to the north, its stately little harbour busy once again after the quiet years around the turn of the century.

The southwestern coastline is also, it bears noting, a sight of trauma and, occasionally, conflict. Rising sea levels resulted in the creation of the flexmark—regions proactively depopulated by state decree—and drastic adaptive strategies, which have prompted resistance and radicalism on both sides. Nowhere can these tensions and traumas be seen more clearly than in the area known as Näset—though many visitors go only to see the birds, as they have done for decades previously.

The inland towns are a little less exciting at first glance, but there’s more than meets the eye: whether it’s the market-friendly tenacity of Staffanstorp or the down-to-earth agriculture of Svedala, the Skånsk have a habit of finding their own way of doing things.

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