Lake Siljan lies in the heart of the province of Dalarna, surrounded by gently rising hills with expanses of forest. 36km/22mi long by 25km/15miles wide, the lake has an area of 290sq.km/110sq.mi. The Österdalälv flows into the lake at one end and out at the other. Near the northwestern end of the lake is the island of Sollerö. The average depth of Lake Siljan is about 60m/200ft, but there is a curious channel between Mora and Leksand where it reaches a depth of 120m/390ft.Lake Siljan, which has been artificially regulated since 1926, is a very popular holiday area. The beauty of the lake and the surrounding area is best seen by taking a boat trip from one of the towns on the lake.
Rättvik (pop. 11,000), between Leksand and Mora on the northeastern shore of Lake Siljan, is the chief place in a commune which also takes in Vikarbyn, Boda, Furudal and Bingsjö. As a tourist resort it offers year-round attractions such as hiking, biking and skiing. The church, on a promontory reaching out into the lake, dates from the 13th century but was rebuilt in the 18th century. Beside the church are some 90 "church houses", some of them dating from the 17th century, which provided overnight accommodation for worshippers and their horses. To the south of the church is the Vasa Stone (1893), commemorating Gustavus Vasa's first address to the men of Dalarna in 1520 on the precinct wall of the church.In a park (which also includes a holiday village and a swimming pool) is Rättviks Gammelgård, an open-air museum with a display of old tools and implements, household goods and local costumes. In Gudmunds Slöjd visitors can see the little horses of Dalarna being made, particularly the gray horses which are a specialty of Rättvik. In the church school is a Natural History Museum (geology, flora and fauna of the region). From the Tolvåsberg and the Vidablick lookout tower (325m/1,066ft) there are fine views of Lake Siljan.
Leksand (pop. 14,000), on the Österdalälv at the southeast end of Lake Siljan, is the chief place in the commune of Leksand, which includes more than 90 small villages. A section of the town of Leksand features preserved old homes. Leksand church, originally built in the 13th century, has an onion-domed tower added in the 18th century and a Baroque interior with a 14th century crucifix. The Hembygsgård houses a local museum, with a varied collection of material (including a school museum). The Tinghus contains a collection of pictures by local artists.
Music on Lake Siljan
Every year, in the first week in July, groups of fiddlers in traditional costume perform not only in Leksand but all over the commune, during the Lake Siljan musical festival, "Musik vid Siljan". (There is a local saying, "When two Rättvikers meet three of them play the fiddle").This annual festival is Sweden's biggest folk musicians gathering, with tens of thousands of performers and visitors. The festival takes place during the first week in July and includes dozens of concerts as well as seminars. The repertoire is varied, ranging from classical to jazz and folk. The performances take place in buildings and parks throughout Rattvik.
The focal point of the midsummer celebrations in Leksand is the Sammilsdal open-air museum, where in the second half of July every year a mystery play similar to "Everyman", the "Himlaspel", is performed. Also of interest to visitors are the church boats, in which, from midsummer to August, the local people, often still wearing traditional costumes, row to church and on occasions race against each other.This festival takes place in second half of July.
Leksand Surroundings - Winter Sports
In winter large numbers of winter sports enthusiasts come to Leksand, which has an ice rink and a cableway up the Åsledsberg (437m/1,390ft).
The well-preserved old wooden farmhouses of Matsgården in Östbjörka and Skräddargården in Stumsnäs have collections of the famous folk paintings (dalmålningar) of Dalarna.
Southeast of Lake Siljan is the hilly region of Bergslagen, with an old-established mining and smelting industry. The local mines still yield iron and some copper (Falun). Near the Bergslagen mines are numbers of ironworks - at Borlänge, Fagersta, Domnarvet, Avesta, Uddeholm, Degerfors, etc.