Our adventure in Sweden ended in Stockholm. We got a hotel right in downtown Stockholm, Scandic Malmen and walked to all the venues we visited. There is also a nice, easy to use subway system if you find yourself worn out and ready to return to your hotel. It’s much easier than trying to drive and find parking with Stockholm’s narrow streets. Founded in 1252, Stockholm has seen many revisions to it’s city plans and still has many narrow, cobblestone streets. You’ll feel like you have stepped back in time. The city’s narrowest street is Mårten Trotzigs gränd, a narrow path with stairs running between two buildings with charming street lights overhead.
Stockholm, Sweden’s capitol city is made up of 14 islands connected by over 50 bridges. The area has actually been settled since the 6th millennium BC and it’s location is very strategic. With it’s position overlooking the mouth of Lake Mälaren, the archipelago on the Baltic Sea allowed early settlers a safe location to defend from sea intruders and it became a perfect location for trade.
Over the centuries Stockholm has been occupied by many different countries. It’s architecture reflects the many cultures who have lived here and those that have ruled here. It isn’t unusual to walk by buildings with German influences and inscriptions on them. The Italian, French and Saxon influences can be seen in the older buildings around the city.
The oldest section of town is Galma stan (old town) and still features the medieval street layout. Stop by Stortorget (the Big Square) to see the French Rococo style Stock Exchange Building which houses the Nobel Museum. As charming as the square is, it has a fascinating and yet violent history. In the first half of the 15th century it was the site of the Käpplinge murders. A group of German burghers trapped a large number of prominent citizens in a hovel and burned them to death. It was also the scene of the Stockholm Bloodbath of 1520, when the Danish-Swedish king Christian II beheaded and hanged 90 people. When a community has been around as long as this one there are bound to be stories, good and bad.
It’s hard to imagine these atrocities today in this charming and lively area of town. Cafés extend out into the street and people bustle through on their way to see other historic sites like the Storkyrkan Church. For nearly four hundred years it was the only parish church in the city and first appears in writing in 1279. It is situated near the Royal Palace and has been the site of major events such as coronations, royal weddings and funerals. It was the location of the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria, the oldest daughter of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, to Daniel Westling on June 19, 2010.
After a quick photo of Storkyrkan Church we hurried over to the Royal Palace to catch a changing of the guard. The Royal Palace is built in the Italian Baroque style and was built over many years and ready for use in 1754. It resides on the remains of the old medieval Tre Kronor (three crowns) Castle which burned in 1697. The old cellars and walkways of the historic castle exist below the Royal Palace and have been converted into museums. My favorite the Tre Kornor Museum provides insight into the daily life of the maids and servants that served the royal inhabitants.
You can spend quite a bit of time at the Royal Palace taking a tour and visiting the five museums. We paid for the guided tour and followed it up with the museum visits. I highly recommend seeing the royal carriages and ceremonial costumes of The Royal Armoury Museum. We managed to catch a second changing of the guard that same afternoon also.
During our time in Stockholm we did a lot of walking and up and down the rolling hills. We dined at a wonderful Italian restaurant, Il Tempo and had Spanish Tapas at Ramblas Tapas & Bar. The food was amazing everywhere we went. I might have mentioned this in an earlier blog, but I will say ordering food was the most difficult thing to pull off while traveling and not speaking Swedish. I’ll keep working on that for next time.
We flew out early in the morning from Arlanda International Airport to we made it easy on ourselves and stayed at the Clarion Hotel Arlanda which is attached right to the airport. All we had to do in the morning was roll out of bed and go check our luggage.
The trip home involved running through the airport in London to make our flight, a trilogy of landing attempts to get into Chicago (due to wind sheer), and an extended stay in Chicago due to those same winds. We were happy to be home but already planning the next time we visit Sweden.