Stockholm – Fourteen Islands, One City
Set between the fresh water of Lake Mälaren and the salty waters of the Baltic Sea, Stockholm is the beautiful capital of the Kingdom of Sweden. It consists of 14 islands, but originally it was just a small settlement which has evolved into what locals call today Gamla Stan, meaning The Old Town. The year in which this area officially became a town was 1252, under the rule of Swedish statesman Birger Jarl.
Birger Jarl helped the city develop at a rapid pace by encouraging free commerce with Germany. The beautiful St. Gertrude’s Church in the Old Town, was a German church that proved the good relationship between the two countries. Also part of the Old Town (which encompasses three islands) is the imposing Royal Palace, which acts as official residence for the Swedish Monarch, because the actual residence is at Drottningholm Palace.
The Royal Palace is close to the Parliament House and the Stockholm Cathedral (Sankt Nikolai kyrka), and it was built on the site of a smaller palace called Tre Kronor, and which was burnt down in 1797. This was not the city’s only major reconstruction project. Actually, the entire center of Stockholm was rebuilt after the introduction of formal waste and sewage collection systems (1859-61). Many old buildings received extensive restoration, and a number of new parks and streets emerged. There are a numerous hospitals, libraries, schools and museums today which date back to that time.
People in Stockholm – children included – love museums, exhibitions and theaters. In fact, the world’s first open air museum and zoo was built here in 1891, and it was called Skansen. It was created to show how people in the country used to live before the industrial era. Visitors can even admire a full replica of a 19th century town. When you come here you must also climb up the Skansen hill, from where sweeping views of the city will delight you.
Opposite the Royal Palace is the five-star Grand Hôtel, which was open for the first time in the summer of 1874. Next to this historic hotel, the Nationalmuseum (founded in 1792) awaits its curious visitors. Passing by these beautiful buildings, you can reach the Skeppsholmen island, which is an island of arts. Aside from the Museum of Modern Art, people can admire artistic creations spread on green lawns for everybody to see.
The capital of Sweden is also famous for having the world’s longest art gallery, in the shape of the city’s subway system: many of its 100 stations were designed by famous artists. We love that about Stockholm. There is always something exciting to discover in the Venice of the North. And if you look at the city in the summer, when the sun shines brightly over the water, you might even feel for a second that you have been teleported into a calmer and more relaxed version of the Mediterranean.
- If you haven’t lived in a northern country, then you must come here in June, when the day lasts for 20 hours! Best temperatures can be experienced from Mai until August: 68 – 77°F.
- Tipping is not a custom here, except for taxis and maybe bars and restaurants. The usual amount is 5-10%, or a little higher for taxi drivers.
- You should know that Stockholm is one of the world’s most expensive cities in terms of accommodation. Grand Hotel and Nobis Hotel are always excellent choices.