The world-famous Kingdom of Crystal is situated in the southeast of Småland, more precisely in the municipalities of Emmaboda, Lessebo, Nybro and Uppvidinge. The Kingdom of Crystal contains around a dozen of glassworks, along with a few smaller glass studios. In Swedish, the area is called “Glasriket”.
Kosta Outlet and Kosta Boda Art Hotel
Especially in Kosta (Lessebo Municipality) there is a lot going on. Businessman Torsten Jansson invested a lot of money in creating an exclusive hotel – the Kosta Boda Art Hotel. If you wish to take a look inside, you should start by visiting the bar – it is made entirely out of glass.
However, the main attractions in Kosta are the demonstrations given by the glassblowers and the large Kosta Outlet (not only offering glassware but also clothing, shoes and home decor of a number of well known brands).
In 1742, the first glassworks of Småland opened in Kosta. The surrounding forests provided the firewood for the furnaces. The great expansion took place at the end of the 19th century. At that time, Småland had approximately sixty glassworks.
Glassworks struggling for survival
The number of glassworks has continuously decreased since the 1970s. Though they still produce exclusive glass of outstanding quality and innovative design. Today however, these products are rather expensive as the glass is made by hand and Swedish labour isn’t cheap. Which is why most glassworks are struggling to survive. However, there are notable exceptions such as the Målerås glassworks.
Watch the glassblowers at work
In the glassworks you can watch the glassblowers at work. In Kosta they do charge an entry fee but in return they will explain the production process to you (also in English). First, the glass mass is melted in the furnaces, after which it is shaped (“blown”) into objects. Then the glass is allowed to cool off, finished and refined – e.g. edged, engraved and painted.
Art glass vases, bowls and carafes can cost a few thousand Swedish kroner. Functional glassware, however, is much more affordable. If you want to buy a souvenir without spending lots of money, look for second-grade labels, B-stock or end-of-series items.
Some of the glassworks also offer a traditional dish known by the name of “Hyttsill” (“sill” meaning herring), which is enjoyed together after work. The furnaces still warm are used for the preparation of the food, e.g. for baking potatoes. These evenings are particularly cosy during winter when they make a “julhyttsill”, a mix between hyttsill and julbord (a Christmas version of Smörgåsbord).
In Kosta you will also find the Kosta Christmas market on weekends in November and December.
Hotels in the Kingdom of Crystal
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The bar at the Kosta Boda Art Hotel