Published: November 29th 2007November 28th 2007
Sunset over Riddarholmen
Sunset over Riddarholmen near the old town. The view is from the Southern District.
Welcome to Stockholm
During summer this year we have tried to do some sightseeing in our hometown - Stockholm
. We thought it could be fun to publish one entry with photos from here so you can get an idea of what Stockholm is like. Since the majority of the readers of this blog are not from Sweden we thought why not using this forum to advertise Stockholm a little bit. It is a very nice city and it is well worth a visit. In summer that is. Not even we would recommend anyone to come here in winter really...
One of the highlights of any visit to Stockholm is the well preserved Old Town
. The Old Town is very different from the rest of the city in the sense that it is virtually free of cars, thus making it a great place for walking. One of the reasons for the lack of cars is the narrow streets. The Old Town took it's shape long before there was any need for space for motorized vehicles. There was a settlement of some sorts where the Old Town is today already back in the 13th century. There is precious little left from
Woodland Cemetery is one of three World Heritage sites in or near Stockholm
the earliest days of Stockholm. Today the oldest houses you can find are 200 years younger than that. But the narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town still make for a great walk on any day of the year. By the way, if you arrive in Stockholm on a cruise ship you can hardly avoid the Old Town because that is where they all moor.
In one end of the Old Town, right in front of the parliament building, there is an interesting Middle Age museum. The museum is centred around a section of the old city wall erected in the 16th century. The wall was discovered in the late 70-ies when construction workers were conducting excavations for a subterranean car park. Instead of the car park the museum was established to preserve the remains of the wall and to give further insight into life in the early days of Stockholm.
But the oldest known major settlement in Sweden is even older than the Old Town in Stockholm. On the island Björkö in Lake Mälaren there was a city already in the 8th century. That city is today known as Birka
. This island is just outside Stockholm and
On woodland cemetery, one of three World Heritage Sites in or near Stockholm the actress Greta Garbo is buried
can be visited by taking a boat tour from Stockholm. Unfortunately they ran the last tour of this year the week before we had decided to go there so we can't present any photos from there on the blog. The city Birka was abandoned in the 11th century and what you can see today is mainly earth mounds outlines of houses and the crumbled remains of the city wall, today completely covered with grass.
The United Nations have put Birka on the World Heritage List by the way, thus recognising the site to have "outstanding cultural importance to the common heritage of humanity". In and around Stockholm there are two more World Heritage sites - Drottningholm Palace
and The Woodland Cemetery
Drottningholm Palace is today the residence of the royal family. But still large sections of the magnificent garden, the royal theatre and even some sections of the palace itself can be visited. The garden and also the main palace resemble a scaled down version of the Versaille outside Paris. The sections of the Drottningholm Palace where the royal family live is fenced off and carefully protected. But still it's not unheard of to run across a prince
On the corner of Tjurbergsgatan and Blekingegatan this statue is on one of the walls of the house where Greta Garbo was born.
or princess while walking in the park.
The Woodland Cemetery is a somewhat odd entry of the World Heritage List. It is basically a large cemetery. There are a few celebrities buried there, the actress Greta Garbo
and the ice hockey player Pelle Lindbergh
would the two best known, but the cemetery is mainly for common people. The reasons for The Woodland Cemetery to be included on the World Heritage List lies in the architecture and the way the cemetery blends in with the natural landscape. The Woodland Cemetery has set a standard for cemeteries worldwide.
Greta Garbo was born in a house on the corner of Tjurbergsgatan and Blekingegatan. The original house has been torn down but the house that replaced it has a small statue of Greta Garbo on one of the walls. A few blocks away, where Katarina Bangata meets Sofiagatan, is a square named after Greta Garbo.
Stockholm is well known for the large number of museums you can visit here. The Middle Age museum we have already mentioned. But there are several other worth visiting. For art buffs there is for instance the National Gallery
, the Museum of Modern Art
Alfred Nobel's Nitroglycerin factory
Alfred Nobel's Nitroglycerin factory, or what's left of it. One or two buildings were destroyed in accidents. Nitroglycerin is dangerous stuff.
For more information on Millesgården see further down.
For children there is the Toy Museum and Junibacken
, where Pippi Longstocking and Karlsson-on-the-Roof and many other characters from the children stories written by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren all come alive. Also Skansen
is popular among children. Skansen is partly a zoo and partly an open air museum for the protection of traditional houses from various parts of Sweden. Stockholm also has a pretty good amusement park - Gröna Lund
The most visited museum in Stockholm is undoubtedly the Vasa Museum
. The war ship Vasa
was once the pride of the Swedish navy. She was so for not more than a few hours, back in August 1628. But then she was the grandest ship in the Swedish navy. It turned out the ship's construction was unstable so she actually sank when leaving Stockholm harbour. So in a matter of minutes she turned from the pride of the Swedish navy to a total fiasco. Vasa lay in the mud in the Stockholm Harbour for over 300 years pretty much forgotten. But in the 50-ies she was located and she was found to be in a remarkably good condition. The ship
The ugliest Royal Palace in the World?
Royal Palaces usually look good. The one in Stockholm is if you ask us an exception.
was lifted from the ocean floor in 1961 and a huge project was set into action to conserve the salvaged remains of the ship. For further reading on how Vasa was found and lifted I can recommend you to read National Geographic January 1962. Today Vasa is on display in the Vasa Museum
and a visit there is likely to be the highlight of any visit in Stockholm.
We mentioned the Drottningholm Palace before. There are several other palaces and castles in and around Stockholm. There is for instance the Royal Palace
, which probably is the ugliest royal palace in the World, Ulriksdal Palace
and Haga Palace
But we believe that the best way to appreciate Stockholm is simply to walk around. It is a very beautiful city and the various districts have their own character. The Old Town with its cobbled streets we have mentioned already. The Southern District
used to be populated largely by the working class but today attracts many artists and musicians. Around there you can find many nicely preserved low wooden houses. The Eastern District
is the area in Stockholm where you find the most exclusive apartments and it is also there you
Drottningholm Palace is one of three World Heritage Sites in or near Stockholm. Today it is the home of the Royal Family.
are likely to find the most adorned houses in the city.
One popular activity in Stockholm is to fly hot air balloon. In the summer there can be 20 balloons or more flying over the city. It is also popular to take a boat trip to the archipelago. There are also various tours of the city you can take. There is everything from the run of the mill bus tour to a guided ghost tour in the old town. This year one company started a roof top tour. You take the stairs up on the roof of a building and then the tour takes you walking across several houses to give you a somewhat different view of the city.
Stockholm is also a city for entertainment. There is the Royal Swedish Opera and the Royal Swedish Theatre for instance. Each week there are usually one or more international stars in Stockholm holding concerts.
In the 19th century a man named Alfred Nobel
lived and worked in Stockholm. He was a scientist and inventor. One of his most successful inventions came into being in the 1860-ies when he found a way to make nitroglycerin safe by mixing it
Drottningholm Palace is surrounded by an astonishing park
with other material thus creating the dynamite. The dynamite and other inventions made Alfred Nobel a very wealthy man. When he died on December 10 1896 he donated the bulk of his fortune as a foundation for a prize to be awarded to the most important scientific discoveries. This prize is named The Nobel Prize
and is one of the most prestigious prizes in the World. Each year it is handed out in Stockholm on December 10, the day Nobel passed away.
You can still see Alfred Nobel's old factory in one of Stockholm's parks. We have never been inside the factory but we doubt that anything of the interior is preserved. As a historical place it can still be interesting to visit. If you are interested in knowing more about the Nobel Prize and Alfred Nobel it is possible to visit the Nobel Museum
if you visit Stockholm. It's only about 10 minutes walk away from where we live actually. I (Ake) am a science teacher and still I have never been there. I'd better go there soon!
In 1912 Stockholm hosted the Summer Olympics. We know that was quite some time ago but it is still
Drottningholm Palace is surrounded by an astonishing park
worth mentioning for the beautiful Olympic Stadium
that is still standing proudly in the northern end of the Eastern District. The Stadium is still being used for various activities such as football games, track and field competitions and rock concerts. An interesting fact about the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm is that in no other stadium in the World have more world records been set.
The three best known brand names originating in Sweden are Ericsson, Volvo and IKEA. For obvious reasons you can find plenty of Volvo cars and several IKEA stores in Stockholm but other than that they have very little to do with Stockholm. But Ericsson is tightly connected with Stockholm. Ericsson's headquarters is in Stockholm and they have several offices in town. Abba
is a famous rock band from Sweden and they come from Stockholm. There is not very much for ABBA fans in the city at the moment. But they are working on an Abba museum and it is planned to open for the public in 2009. Ingmar Bergman
is a name well known to film lovers all over the World. Weather you like him or hate him (it's usually either or) he
Sunset in central Stockholm can be breathtaking when the evening sunrays plays over various buildings.
was born in Stockholm. But here too there is not much for a fan to visit. Ingmar Bergman lived the last years of his life on Fårö Island and that is also where he is buried. If there in the future ever opens any Bergman museum it most likely on Fårö Island it will be situated.
However, the actress Ingrid Bergman
, on the contrary to what many think not at all related to Ingmar, is buried in Stockholm. On the Northern Cemetery to be precise. Other notables buried there are for instance adventurer Salomon August Andrée
, industrialist Ivar Kreuger
, inventor Alfred Nobel and Alva Myrdal
winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
We mentioned the actress Greta Garbo in the beginning. There is a park named after her and there is also a small statue outside the house where she was born. But if you want to pay tribute to "the fifth greatest female star of all time" (she was dubbed that by the American Film Institute) the grave on The Woodland Cemetery is the place to go.
The famous sculptor Carl Milles
lived and worked in Stockholm parts of his life. His home is today a museum
The royal warship Vasa restored to her former might. Here seen from her richly decorated stern. Copyright of this photo belongs to Hans Hammarskiöld (the Vasa Museum) and is here used by permission.
attracting thousands of visitors each year. The museum is set on a high cliff overlooking Stockholm harbour. The spectacular views over Stockholm makes this museum worth visiting even if you couldn't care less about statues and sculptures.
Talking about statues we can tell you an anecdote regarding one statue in the Old Town. The statue shows the folk singer Evert Taube
. The statue stands outside Evert Taube's favourite restaurant and he is supposedly waiting there for a taxi to bring him home. When the statue was uncovered his son remarked that the statue is incorrect. Evert Taube never stood there waiting for a taxi. There was always a taxi standing there waiting for Evert Taube.
In Stockholm there are two youth hostels that are a bit special. First we have Langholmen Prison. Back when it was used as a prison some of the most dangerous criminals in the country were serving time there. When they closed down the prison they turned it into a youth hostel so now you can stay there if you want.
The second youth hostel worth mentioning is also a very popular one. It is called Af Chapman and there you can stay
Any architecture lover must visit the Old Town.
onboard a sailing ship from the late 19th century.
In Hagaparken there is a palace named Haga Palace. It is currently the home of two members of the royal family so it can't be visited. But the park surrounding the palace can be visited and it features one of two things that makes it worth to go there if you have the time.
In one end of Hagaparken there is a former court house. In the basement of that house there is actually a giant's kettle. When they cleared the ground to make place for the building they found the giant's kettle there. The construction was then slightly altered so that the geological feature could be kept. The giant's kettle was created more than 10,000 years ago during the latest ice age and it was thought that students could come and visit the court house and see it for educational reasons.
In the former court house in Hagaparken there is today housed a large collection of books on medical history. It is unfortunately not open for public in the way museums are but it can still be visited if you have interest in medical history.
Any architecture lover must visit the Old Town.
of the more popular features in the park is the Copper Tents. They were built in the late 18th century and was originally a stable for horses. Today they house among other things a kiosk and a restaurant.
We wrote right up at the beginning that we wouldn't recommend anyone to visit Stockholm in winter. In winter Stockholm is dark, cold and wet and most of the time not very nice. However, some days you can find sceneries in winter that are breathtaking. We have put up a few photos on the blog that we have taken in winter. We hope you like them.
Stockholm has been a centre of commerce and politics for almost a millenium. Important centres in the World always attract interesting people and interesting people bring with them interesting ideas and have a tendency to create interesting stories and to set interesting marks in history. Stockholm in that sence is not different from other important centres. We hope we by writing this entry on the blog have showed that Stockholm is an interesting place and not a cold desolated city in the outer rims of civilization populated by gloomy suicidal Norsemen. Of course there
Any architecture lover must visit the Old Town.
are many more interesting stories we could tell about things that have happened in Stockholm over the centuries. But for now we leave it at this and hope you find your way here one day.
Ake and Emma
Ps We might have one or two interesting stories more up our sleeves. But we save those for a blog entry showing an alternative side of Stockholm... /A+E
There are more photos below