Who would have thought a Swedish national park could attract so much controversy? Hidden in the Kullaberg Nature Reserve in Skåne in the country’s south, is the giant sculpture Nimis (Latin for ‘too much’), constructed by controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks. Built entirely from driftwood – at least so it’s believed – Vilks started crafting the structure in 1980, and it took two years before anybody even noticed.
Once it was uncovered, a series of convoluted court battles between Vilks and the local council led to the artist to declare one square kilometre of the nature reserve as autonomous from Sweden. And so the Royal Republic of Ladonia was born in 1996.
The micronation has a flag, a motto, two unnamed anthems, a capital, several official languages, a government, a queen, a president, a vice-president, a state secretary and almost 18,000 citizens worldwide. You can apply to become a citizen via the website for free, or even opt for a noble title for a small fee. Despite all this, nobody actually lives there.
The sculpture itself is impressively large, and as you climb down through it you feel as though you’re entering Netherland. The driftwood has been intricately cobbled together using nails and whatever else Vilks could get his hands on, to create an epic wooden labyrinth with tunnels you can climb through, and towers you can climb on. It’s awesome in both scale and concept.
All hail Vilks, the founder of Ladonia.
You will need private transport to get there. Nimis and Ladonia are not recognised by Swedish authorities and therefore there are no official signs or directions. The only way to find it is to drive to the Himmelstorp homestead and follow the path past it until you spot the yellow ‘Ns’ signs painted on trees and rocks. Follow them down the peninsula until you find Nimis. It’s about a 30 to 40 minute walk.
It’s free to visit and become a citizen, but a title of nobility will cost you US$30.
The walk down to Nimis is steep, rocky and reasonably challenging, but can be done without any specialist gear. It’s a good idea to wear closed shoes and take a bottle of water. The walk back up is a workout!