If the beautiful hills of Valle could be said to have a heart, it would be in the form of Höjentorp Castle Ruin. Royalty have enjoyed the verdant landscape and glittering lakes here for centuries.
Höjentorp Castle was once a royal residence whose turrets were reflected in the lake in the park, Trädgårdssjön. But it was built of wood, and in 1722 it burned to the ground. When Carl Linnaeus visited the ruins 25 years later, he stated that it would have been hard to find a match for the former “kongsgård” anywhere. It may seem odd to have built a royal demesne here, but Valle was a central community in the County of Västergötland, only a short distance from Varnhem Monastery and Skara. Gustav Vasa, John III, Charles IX and Charles XI were some of the kings of Sweden that often resided at Höjentorp. Today, only the stone steps leading up to the courtyard and a basement – possibly part of a medieval castle that was burned by the Danes in 1566 – remain. The area around the ruins still shows the signs of a royal park with such gracious plants as Turk’s cap lilies, aquilegia and wild garlic. Since anything green is good for you, walking around here must be a very healthy pursuit as you are surrounded by layers of greenery climbing up the hills with green caves made up of wild garlic, dog’s mercury and majestic lime trees. If you continue walking east towards Lake Ormsjön, the lush landscape turns into coniferous woodland where marshmyrtle and saw-sedge grow. The Höjentorp-Drottningkullen nature reserve is the largest in the Valle area, and you can extend your walk far beyond the well-trodden paths around the castle ruin.
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