Dalarö is a small coastal community south of Stockholm. It is a popular tourist attraction during the summer season. In past centuries, Dalarö held a strategic position as a customs station and was instrumental in the defence of Stockholm. The waters surrounding Dalarö contain many well-preserved shipwrecks from the 17th century to the present day, making it popular with divers.

Dalarö’s maritime history

The waters surrounding Dalarö are home to a wealth of wrecks of different ages, types and materials. Some are incredibly well preserved, while others are more or less fragmentary.

The place name of Dalarö appears in the 13th century in Danish King Valdermar’s sailing route, a description of the route from Utlängan in southern Sweden to Tallinn, Estonia. At that time it was the site of a protected natural anchorage and an important maritime hub.
As early as 1565, the navy built a repair yard a few kilometres south of Dalarö. At the beginning of the 1680s, Dalarö, in addition to Stockholm and Karlskrona, was used as a main base for the Swedish navy. The first military defence facility was built in 1623. However, it was replaced in 1656 by Dalarö Fortress, south of the community, which was used until 1856 when the military left the island.

In 1636, Dalarö was designated a customs collection point, and the community became the outermost customs station for vessels bound for Stockholm. This meant that all ships bringing imported goods into Stockholm or northern ports would pass Dalarö to pay customs duties on their cargo. The current customs house was erected in 1788.

To secure vessel traffic to and from Stockholm a pilot station was established on Dalarö during the 17th century, and in 1676 the maritime pilots got their own house on the island of Jutholmen.

As an established customs collection point, Dalarö became more significant, and a more organized society rapidly grew around the customs operations. Taverns and inns were an important part of the transport system in rural and coastal areas, and access to food and accommodation were needed for a comfortable journey. In 1638, the tavern Dalarö Krog was built in the harbour. The tavern business continued right up to 1890, when the tavern burned down.

The notable events that have taken place on Dalarö over the centuries have led to substantial maritime traffic in the area. As a result of the great many ships that have passed through the area, numerous ships and boats have met their fate in Dalarö’s waters. The types of ships vary from smaller boats used by locals to large commercial and naval vessels. The shipwrecks in the waters surrounding Dalarö represent different historical eras and phenomena that have played a vital and ever-present role in Dalarö’s development.