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285km (177 miles) S of Gothenburg, 618km (384 miles) SW of Stockholm

Now that it's linked to the Continent via Denmark by the bridge over Öresund, Malmö is taking on an increased sophistication. We find each visit more appealing than the one before. Once the staid old capital of Skåne, Malmö is today a vibrant, modern city with a definite young vibe. Or, as one former city official told us, "Gothenburg lives on via its great maritime past; Malmö represents the Sweden of tomorrow." A fine sentiment indeed, but not one to belt out in a Gothenburg pub full of soccer fans.

Nothing seems to evoke Malmö's entry into the 21st century more than the avant-garde and controversial "Turning Torso", rising over the Western Harbor. You'll gaze in awe at Sweden's tallest building, which rises 190m (623 ft.) and consists of nine cubes -- a total of 54 floors -- with a 90-degree twist from base to top. The creation of architect Santiago Calatrava, it was inspired by a sculpture called Turning Torso by (you guessed it) Calatrava himself. Today it is the most spectacular apartment building in all of Sweden.

If you can, allow at least 2 days to tour Malmö, Sweden's third largest city. The old city, dating from the 13th century, makes a good base for exploring the attractions of western Skåne. Or you might prefer to use ancient Lund for a base for touring basically the same sights. It's your choice: big, bustling, modern city or beautiful old university town.

From its early days, Malmö (pronounced Mahl-mer) prospered because of its location on a sheltered bay. In the 16th century, when it was the second largest city in Denmark, it vied with Copenhagen for economic and cultural leadership. (Reminders of that age are Malmöhus Castle [see below], the Town Hall, and the Stortorget, plus several homes of rich burghers.) Malmö has been a Swedish city since the end of a bloody war in 1658, when the Treaty of Roskilde incorporated the province of Skåne into Sweden.