The experience of my arrival to Sweden became unforgettable. The never-ending lush green landscapes with beautiful red country houses made an impression on me.
Since that day, I have been wondering, why they chose that particular red color? Is it because it contrasts well with the green countryside? Or is it to be found easily when they are the only man-made structures in nature. While passing through Stockholm’s archipelago, I kept wondering, who built those tiny red country houses that are present even on the smallest islands.
It was until my student visit to Björnogården (also our favorite place in Västerås) with an archaeologist that I got the answer to this mystery.
Here is the answer!
Falun, a city in Dalarna county in Sweden, is well-known for copper mines. This mine used to be the biggest copper mine of Europe and is now a world heritage site. The red pigment was a by-product of this mine. It makes a durable paint to wooden country houses, which is now an inseparable part of the Swedish landscape.
Sweden was not so wealthy in the 18th century as it seems today. This was a very cheap and sustainable way to paint houses, affordable by people from all levels of society. The color red was also attractive as it resembles the red brick buildings in the 16th century.
Dalarna is also quite famous for Dalahäst or Dala horse, the wooden hand painted horse and a symbol of Sweden.
The red color, known as Falu röda, allows the wood to breathe and to release moisture quickly. The minerals of this natural color preserve the wood and it helps to last longer. It is not affected much by sunlight and does not need to be painted again and again.
Building a country house or sommarstuga is a great deal of interest among Swedes. Falu röda continues to adorn these beautiful houses and keeps the glory of the Swedish traditions alive!