The Swedes have a nickname for the eccentric nobleman who built himself a pyramid tomb in the middle of the south Swedish highlands: “Mannen som gjorde vad som föll honom in”.
“The man who did what he wanted.”
The man certainly carried around a lot of names. Georg Malte Gustav August Liewen Stierngranat was born in 1871 on an estate called Nobynäs, outside of the small city of Aneby. As the oldest son, he was expected to stick around the manor house and take over the family farm. But Malte, as he was known, had other plans. He went west, traveling to the United States in 1898.
There he managed to acquire the title of “engineer”, an expertise he would claim throughout his life with little evidence that he actually studied engineering. He also found himself a rich wife in Milwaukee. She was Swedish herself, and with Marie by his side Malte talked himself into the society pages, a reputation as an expert art restorer, and even an invitation to the White House from President Roosevelt.
In 1911 the Stierngranats moved back to Sweden, Malte’s parents having been forced to sell Nobynäs. Like a Swedish Downton Abbey, using his wife’s fortune he was able to save some of the old estate, including the Castle Stjärne. Malte called his reclaimed home Stjärneborg in honor of the old castle, which he restored along with several other buildings on the property. He also created a small museum (which you can still visit today), and even a personal train station (that, unfortunately, was torn down in 1965).
Malte and Marie’s marriage didn’t stand the test of time, and they divorced in 1930. He remarried and continued to create a legacy for himself throughout Sweden, but when the second marriage ended he went back to Stjärneborg. There he completed one final engineering feat – a burial pyramid modeled after those he had seen during a trip to Egypt.
Malte Stierngranat carried his eccentric spirit into the afterlife. Along with this first wife and two children he is entombed in a sarcophagus inside his pyramid. Until the very end, he remained a man who did what he wanted.
Know Before You Go
The Stjärneborg Museum and Pyramid are about 7 miles north of the town of Aneby in southern Sweden. Both the museum and pyramid are open from May to October, and admission is 60 krona (about $7), and kids under 16 are free.
There are scheduled tours on Sundays, or you can contact the museum for group tour reservations at other times. Phone them at 0140-20344, or email to [email protected]