In Search of Saga in Southernmost Sweden

Southernmost_Oresund-bridge-PHOTO-Janus-Langhorn

Despite being set in-between Denmark and Sweden, The Bridge is mostly filmed in and around Malmö in Skåne, the most southern region of Sweden, which is also home to one side of the famous and iconic Öresund Bridge that links the two countries. We flew into Copenhagen courtesy of Scandinavian Airlines in late September to see the first two episodes of The Bridge III at a special premiere in Malmö, as guests of VisitSweden, Malmö Tourism and Tourism In Skåne, who had exciting The Bridge themed plans for our visit.

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Travelling to Malmö from Copenhagen is surprisingly quick and easy and it is a very short journey by train.  It was exciting to cross the famous bridge but you don’t see that much from the train. I closed my eyes and imagined making the crossing on the road above me in an olive coloured 1970s Porsche 911 instead with the reflections dancing over my polished paintwork and before I knew it we had arrived in Malmö.

Following an exciting evening, where we witnessed the stunning opening episodes of the new season in the newly opened concert hall Malmö Live. The complex is a stone’s throw from the main train station and boasts a top hotel and a ‘skybar’ with magnificent views. Click here to find out more.

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After The Bridge premiere we saw ‘Choir of Young Believers’ play the theme song at a private party; brushing shoulders with the cast, crew and producers along the way. We also had a chance to interview the main players. It was then on to the Malmö Museum for the opening of a special exhibition on The Bridge, featuring Saga’s costume, the famous Porsche and an interactive peep-show where you could see at first-hand props and various ephemera from the show through cracks in a make-shift concrete container – all very atmospheric and originally curated. It’s an absolute must for any fans of the series and a great way to kick-start our Malmö experience of The Bridge!

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Many of the main shooting locations from the series can be easily found in Malmö, including Saga’s distinctly modern quay-side residence. In episode one of the new series Saga returns to her apartment, after a traumatic experience in the field, only to discover an unwanted guest waiting for her. We also saw Saga’s apartment in season one when Martin Rhode paid his Swedish colleague a visit only to discover that his son, August, had inexplicably been sleeping over there. The actual apartment is located at Ankargatan 9, in the harbour area of Malmö. The area is called Western Harbour, a newly built area featuring the famous landmark building ‘Turning Torso’ and is well worth checking out.

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It’s amazing how easily Saga manages to park right outside the building where she works, but in reality the police station exterior is actually a doctor’s surgery, located on Barkgatan 11. The other side of the building is where Saga and Martin also park their cars to go in to work. It’s amazing to see how a bit of cladding can turn a building into another location so convincingly, especially how they manage to create two purposes for the building on either side.

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The main event itself, The Öresund Bridge is clearly an essential place to see up-close. You can hire a bike or go on foot to the Öresund Bridge abutment and soak-up this amazing feat of engineering. Linger for a while and, if you can, watch the sun set over the Öresund Sound. The viewpoint at Lernacken, just south of Limhamn and Barnviken, is the best place to view the bridge.

From this vista you can also look back towards Ribersborg Beach – also known as “Scandinavian Copacabana”, a three kilometres long beach with both sand and big green lawns that, on a sunny day, looks like a holiday destination worthy of more southerly climates. The famous open-air cold bathing house, Ribergsborgs kallbadhus, is also located here where, in season one, Martin realises that the acts of violence have all been directed at him after he and Saga are there to interview a waitress.

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Sofia Helin is one of the brave who goes sea water swimming in the winter: “My favourite place in Malmö is the cold bathing house at Ribersborg. The location is stunning. From the pier you can enjoy the sea views and in the distance you see the Öresund Bridge. Ribersborgs Kallbadhus offer sea swimming in outdoor unheated pools all year around. As a true Swede I love a hot sauna, and I’ve also taken to the ancient Nordic tradition of swimming in the sea in the winter.”

Read our interview with Sofia Helin in Malmö here.

There are numerous other locations you can visit when in Malmö which include:

Malmö Stadium (Eric Perssons Road) you can see where Julian and Laura were waiting for the mysterious ‘Mother of Three’ character from season two.

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No. 16 Bergsgatan, the location of the Middle Eastern restaurant, Jalla Jalla where Saga’s boyfriend dumps her over the phone in series two.

Malmö’s largest park – Pildammsparken – where you’ll find an amphitheatre and a Michelin-starred restaurant. In series two, the gigolo, Claudio, waits for his date at a restaurant in a park in Copenhagen. It is actually the Margareta Pavilion in Malmö’s Pildammsparken.

The Old Concrete factory where the four young terrorists were found dead in a container in season two which can be easily found en-route to The Bridge itself.

While in Sweden fans of ‘Nordic Noir’ should of course also try and make time visit the small town of Ystad – home of Wallander . The town really is as attractive as it is portrayed in the series, with its medieval, pastel-coloured half-timbered houses on cobblestone streets and sun-dappled squares.Take a closer look here.

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Whilst Copenhagen boasts its own Nordic Noir tours featuring locations from Borgen and The Killing, Malmö really is the home of The Bridge and is a very worthwhile pilgrimage for any fan of this outstanding series.

It’s handy to fly Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) from the UK to Copenhagen. From Copenhagen airport it’s a short 20 min train ride to Malmö – crossing the famous Öresund Bridge. Click here for more details.

For more information about Malmö click here.

To find out about The Bridge guided tour click here.

Take a look at your own personal mini guide to Malmö here.

Words by Jon Sadler

The Bridge III begins this weekend on Saturday 21st November from 9pm on BBC Four, with two electrifying back-to-back episodes of the new season!