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Tourist information: around Stockholm (the s.c.nordic FAQ)
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The home pages for the Usenet newsgroup soc.culture.nordic
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Tourist information: around Stockholm

 



Subject: 7.4 

Main tourist attractions

 

7.4.1 Stockholm area


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view of
central Stockholm
© Mats Lindén
Stockholm was originally established (c. 1250) by Birger Jarl as a defense outpost against the Baltic pirates on one of the channel islands that now make up Old Town. The city gained importance during the late Middle Ages as an exporter of metals, timber, and furs from its hinterland, but was still second after Uppsala in importance. Following the Stockholm Bloodbath and the subsequent overthrow of Danish rule in 1523, Stockholm became the center of the new Swedish kingdom. Under Gustav II Adolf (ruled 1611-32) Sweden became a major European power. His daughter and successor Christina (ruled 1632-54) established Stockholm as an intellectual and cultural center.

Stockholm is sometimes known as the Venice of the North. It is the cultural, educational, and industrial center of Sweden. The heart of the city is built on 13 small islands at the junction where Lake Mälaren joins the Baltic Sea. Remnants of medieval Stockholm survive on three small islands known as Gamla Stan (the Old Town). They are Stadsholmen (The City Island) , Riddarholmen (Knight Island), and Helgeandsholmen (The Island of the Holy Spirit). The islands are closely connected and form the "Staden mellan broarna", or "city between the bridges".

Stadsholmen has old gabled houses and narrow streets not found in other sections. Facing the water is the Royal Palace, which was completed in 1760, and is open to tourists. Nearby is the Storkyrkan (cathedral), the oldest building of the city (although the exterior is baroque), which houses e.g the famous medieval sculpture of St. Georg and the Dragon by the German sculptor Berndt Notke.

Cobblestone streets wind up from the palace to the old Stortorget, or Great Market, the site of the Bloodbath of 1520. Eighty-two Swedish noblemen were executed in the market by Danish King Christian II. Close to Stadsholmen is Riddarholmen, where many of the Swedish rulers have been buried in Riddarholmskyrkan. On the tiny Helgeandsholmen, or Island of the Holy Spirit, where the House of Parliament stands.

North of the Old Town are Norrmalm, the modern business and theater district, and Östermalm, a resedential section. Södermalm, a manufacturing center, is in the city's southern section, across the bridge leading from Old Town. The Town Hall, which is Stockholm's symbol, and most of the city government offices are on Kungsholmen, a large island west of Norrmalm. Stockholm is famous for its cleanliness and for its large number of parks and open spaces. On Djurgarden (a peninsula reserved for parkland and a cultural center) is Skansen, an open-air museum.

The University of Stockholm, founded in 1877 as a private institution, was taken over by the state in 1960 and is now the country's largest university. The Nobel Prizes are awarded annually in Stockholm, with the exception of the Nobel Peace Prize, which is presented in Oslo, Norway.

Major museums include the National Museum (of art), the Moderna Museet (Museum of modern art), the Vasa Museum (where a magnificient, 17th Century royal warship Vasa is on display; it sunk in the harbour on it's first journey in 1628 and was well preserved in the water for over 300 years until it was lifted in 1961. It's a must for every Stockholm visitor), the Historical Museum, the Nordic Museum, the Museum of Natural History (with Cosmonova omni theatre), the Museum of Naval History, the Skansen outdoor museum, the medieval museum, and the Royal Armoury (Livrustkammaren) where all sorts of fascinating artifacts from the history of the kingdom are on display, including crown jewels.

In August each year we have the Stockholm Water Festival, an annual cultural and entertainment event sponsored by the city council and local business life. The one and a half week festival offers special exhibitions, concerts, shows, fireworks, an impromptu shopping mall in the Old Town with street restaurants, outdoor movie shows, activities for children, etc. The offcial guide of the festival each year lists more than 1 000 festival events.

The Stockholm archipelago with tens and tens of thousands of islands is very popular in the summer. You can take the white Waxholm boats to the archipelago. A popular area for summer houses.

Have a tour around Stockholm by sightseeing boat. Or see the city on a regular boat trip. In that case, note Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen, formerly navy base. Then get the most condensed view of the old town. Further out, note Waldermarsudde, home of artist late Prince Eugen, now museum. Young artists will give concerts here summertime. Then a white building with towers, home of late Marcus Wallenberg. Finally two beautiful houses from baroque era on point Blockhusudden.

Drottningholm. Accessed by land or by boat. Home of the royal family. Theatre with advanced scene mechanism from 18th century, in use today. Park in the style of Versailles, with "Kina slott", romantic building in Chinese style.

Open-air museum Skansen in Djurgården should preferably be seen when all workshops are open which will not be until the end of August. At least some of them should however be open every Sunday. Skansen also has a Zoo. You can get there with the museum tram line leaving from Norrmalmstorg.

Suggested walks or bike rides around Stockholm

There is no particular restaurant area in Stockholm. Stureplan and around however is somewhat of a meeting place. It is also close to water. In later years the south side (Södermalm), especially around Medborgarplatsen, has emerged as an important area of restaurants and pubs. There are over a hundred of them within 5 minutes walking distance from Medborgarplatsen.

Plenty of choir concerts are given in the churches and the choirs are generally very good.

There are some places close to Stockholm which should be seen, if possible.

Suggested one-day archipelago trips from Stockholm

If you have the time, stay over night somewhere. There are accommodations at several places. Buy a smoked fish if there are not any restaurants. Check restricted (military) areas on the map. Ticks is not a big problem, but ask for advice if you are uncertain.

On a half-day trip from Stockholm one can go to Vaxholm. See the citadel (open until 16.00) with gunnery museum and minute exhibition about the Ytterby mine, known for ytterbium, yttrium, terbium, holmium, scandium, gadolinium and lanthanum. The mine itself may be visited but is hardly worth seeing and minerals may not be collected. Open air cafe in the citadel.

 

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7.4.2 Uppsala

The city of Uppsala, a major Swedish cultural center, lies about 70 km north of Stockholm and can easily be accessed by train. Uppsala has a history going well into the prehistoric era, it became the seat of the Swedish archbishop in 1164 and a royal residence in the next century, although it later lost much of its status and the king moved to Stockholm. The most important sight is Uppsala cathedral (domkyrkan), Sweden's largest medieval church, and a national sanctuary where e.g the king Gustav Vasa, philosopher Emmanuel Swedenborg and the botanist Carl von Linné (Linnaeus) are buried. The University of Uppsala (1477) is Sweden's oldest institution of higher learning, and it's main building Gustavianum (1623) houses a couple of museums. Uppsala castle overlooks the city from a high hill, and beside it is the symbol of the city, Gunillaklockan (Gunilla's clock), which is played daily 6 a.m and 9 p.m. Uppland's museum is located in an old mill by the river Fyrisån. Linné's home museum (Linnés Hammarby) with a garden dedicated to him are also in the city.

Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), now a suburb five kilometers to the north of the modern city, was the religious and political capital of the Sveas in the Viking age. The three high burial mounds (kungshögarna) from the 6th century belong, according to tradition, to the kings Aun, Adils and Egil; finds from their excavations are displayed in Stockholm in the Historical Museum (Historiska Museet). In a 1164 a church was built on the site of the famous old pagan temple of which nothing remains, as a symbol of the victory of Christianity in Sweden -- it was the seat of the archbishop until 13th century when a new cathedral was finished. The restaurant Odinsborg, built in "viking style", serves mead (mjöd).



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