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The Stockholm history tour is a walk from Gamla stan ("the Old Town"), to Norrmalm in Stockholm. The tour is roughly chronological, from the Viking Age through the Middle Ages, the Swedish Empire and the Industrial Revolution to present day, with a few skips back and forward.

Walking tours in Stockholm


See also: Nordic history

Lake Mälaren used to be part of the Baltic Sea, and the Stockholm archipelago was a waterway for the first Swedish towns; Birka, Uppsala, and Sigtuna. As Sigtuna was sacked by pirates in AD 1187, the Swedes had a stockade built at an island in the strait, which has been known as Stockholm since 1252. As the land rose due to post-glacial rebound (see below) Mälaren became a lake, cargo had to reload at Stockholm. In the 15th century, Stockholm replaced Uppsala as the centre of commerce and government, becoming the capital of the 17th-century Swedish Empire.

Since 1901, Stockholm has drawn the world's attention with the Nobel Prize. The city was spared by the World Wars, but around the 1960s, hundreds of old buildings in Norrmalm were torn down to build a new business district, and a metro, known for its art. 21st century Stockholm is one of Europe's fastest growing cities, known for pop music, startup tech companies, and sustainable development.


Stockholm history tour
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Average conditions for Stockholm
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches

May to September tend to have the most comfortable weather. In summer you can take advantage of the long daylight; a morning or evening tour can be preferred to avoid crowds. From 20 June to the end of July, most inhabitants leave the city, and some venues close for summer. From December to early March you can expect temperatures just below zero degrees Celsius, but cold weather can be managed with proper clothes. The main concern at winter is the darkness; sun sets at 15:00 in December; see Winter in the Nordic countries.

While Sweden is arguably the world's most cashless country, Swedish banknotes have portraits of some historical figures mentioned in this article, and are useful as props.

As Stockholm is an important stage for Nordic music and the home of world-leading streaming platform Spotify, the tour has a soundtrack.


Södermalm heights tour is a prologue walking tour, with an astounding view of Stockholm from natural hilltops with hands-on Ice Age traces, and a showcase of 18th century buildings and craft shops.

The Uppland history tour along lake Mälaren takes you through the cradle of Sweden, with an opportunity to start at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport. Birka, Sigtuna and Uppsala were the most important settlements of Viking Age and Medieval Sweden until Stockholm (nicknamed "Queen of Mälaren") became the undisputed capital in the 15th century.

You can arrive to Stockholm through the Stockholm archipelago; for instance on a Baltic Sea cruiseferry from Turku, Helsinki, Tallinn or Riga; cities which were once part of the Swedish Empire. The route recapitulates the literal (littoral) rise of Sweden from the sea, through post-glacial rebound (see Ice Age traces) for an explanation. From the open sea, only a few barren rocks break the surface. Then, you see small forested islands with a few cottages and docks, and later whole towns with harbours. You enter Stockholm with the 19th century industrial zones of Nacka on port side, and the mansions of Djurgården or Lidingö on starboard.

SL ferry line 80 is a commuter ferry included with the public transport ticket, which gives a view of the inner Stockholm archipelago, including Lidingö and Nacka.

Get around[edit]

The tour is around 4 km (2.5 mi), and can be completed on quick feet within an hour: more for people who move slowly. Two hours would allow for a calm stroll with breaks at the waypoints, excluding visits to museums and other venues. For actually visiting all the museums and buildings rather than just taking a quick glance at them, you may want to budget a full day. Smaller text is used for landmarks which can be skipped by a visitor in a hurry, as they are not part of the big picture.

Stockholm centre is walking-friendly if snow is not present; following this itinerary by foot is safe and mostly hassle-free.

The streets of Gamla Stan are pedestrian stone streets, some of them with a steep grade. Wear comfortable shoes. They are less suitable for bicycles and electric scooters (see cycling in Sweden) and not open for cars. Wheelchairs and strollers can get through with a few detours.

Some organized walking tours follow similar waypoints.


The Eric Chronicle, from the 1320s

Birger jerl, þen wise man.
Han loot Stockholms stad at byggia
'med digert with oc mykin hyggia,
eþ fagerþ hus ok en goðan stað
alla leð swa gjort som han bað.
Þet er laas fore þen sio,
at karela göra þem enga oroo.

Birger Jarl, the wise man
He had Stockholm City built
with plenty of wit and much thought
a fair house and a good city
everyone did as he asked."
It is lock for the lake
so the Karelians make them no trouble.

Blue for waypoints; green for landmarks visible from a distance, and orange for interesting places for eating and drinking.

For a shorter tour, any of the five parts (or the epilogue) can be skipped.

Introduction: The rise of Stockholm[edit]

View from Slussen: Riddarholmskyrkan, Stockholm Cathedral, and German Church.
The first known outdoor photo of Stockholm was taken in 1846. Gamla stan to the left, Skeppsholmen to the right, and Östermalm in the distance.
 Blue  marks waypoints.  Orange  marks interesting places for eating or drinking along the way.  Green  marks landmarks visible from a distance (zoom out for more).

The tour begins at the transportation hub Slussen on Södermalm, with a view of the Old Town, and the story about the Viking Age and the foundation of Stockholm in the 13th century.

  • 1 Slussen metro station (Rising land), Ryssgården. Ten thousand years ago, most of northern Europe was covered by a kilometre-thick ice sheet, which pushed down Earth's crust. Ever since the ice melted, post-glacial rebound raises the land; In Stockholm the average rate is around 5 millimetres a year; 0.5 m (1.6 ft) in a century, enough for old people to remember a different coastline. See Ice Age traces for details. The level you stand on, 12 metres above sea level, surfaced around 500 BC, as the Bronze Age was surpassed by the Iron Age. To the east is Saltsjön, a bay of the brackish (salty, but less than the oceans) Baltic Sea, which, when sea level was higher, also included lake Mälaren. Ryssgården (Q10658323) on Wikidata
  • 2 Slussbron (Viking Age). The time from the 8th to the 11th century was the Late Iron Age, more famously called the Viking Age. While most Nordic people of the time lived peaceful lives as farmers, some of them travelled overseas for commerce or settling. Most notorious were the Vikings; Norse warriors who made a living from piracy, slave raids and mercenary work. Sweden's east coast north of today's Stockholm is known as Roden or Roslagen, the homeland of Swedes who sailed to eastern Europe, where they were called the Rus. They founded cities such as Novgorod and Kyiv, which over time became the Russian Empire. Some Norsemen reached the Byzantine Empire, where they formed the Emperor's Varangian Guard. The sea level was around 5 metres higher than today (on par with the metro tracks), and the narrow strait between Mälaren and Saltsjön was busy with ships. A Viking chief named Olaf sacked the settlements around Mälaren in 1007. He later became King Olaf II of Norway, and is venerated as the country's patron saint. Soundtrack: The Pursuit Of Vikings by Amon Amarth Viking Age (Q213649) on Wikidata Viking Age on Wikipedia
  • 3 Stadsgården (Foundation of Stockholm). From the 11th century onwards, European kingdoms had castles built and armies trained, to defend against pirates (including Vikings), nomadic tribes and other enemies. This marked the beginning of the High Middle Ages, during which Sweden was unified, and left pagan faith for Christianity. After the first Swedish capital Sigtuna was sacked by Karelian pirates in 1187, the Swedes built a stockade on the island, today known as Gamla stan (the Old Town). The name Stockholm either comes from the stockade, or from the wooden log (stock) boom in Mälaren and Saltsjön near today's coastline, which was used for defense and toll collection. Birger jarl (jarl is a title corresponding to British earl), is regarded to be the city's founder. A 1252 letter by him is the first record of the name of Stockholm; while this year is considered the founding year of Stockholm, the island had been settled at least some decades before. As in most coastal towns, fishing and shipbuilding were important businesses. The waterfront to the east has been known as Stadsgården (the town shipyard). Foul-smelling boileries for fish oil and seal blubber were located here since the 14th century, just outside the city. The square at the metro station is known as Ryssgården (Russian Yard) from the Russian merchants who met here since the 17th century. Stadsgården (Q4356299) on Wikidata Stadsgården on Wikipedia
  • 1 Riddarholmen. The island of Riddarholmen ("Knight Island") got its name from its nobility palaces, most of them built in the 17th century. The Swedish nobility (adel) was formalized in a 1280 law, as some families who were exempted from tax but had to serve in the army; the most senior ones got the title riddare (knight). This island is well-known from stock photos of Stockholm. Riddarholmen (Q904462) on Wikidata Riddarholmen on Wikipedia
  • 2 Riddarholmskyrkan (Riddarholm Church). One of Stockholm's oldest buildings, built in the 14th century and expanded over time; the steeple is from the 16th century. Fifteen Swedish monarchs are buried here, from Gustavus Adolphus (1594–1632) to Gustav V (1858–1950). One notable absence is Queen Kristina, who abdicated in 1654, converted to Catholicism, and is buried in St Peter's Church in the Vatican. Soundtrack: How Great Thou Art, originally by Carl Boberg. Riddarholm Church (Q657118) on Wikidata Riddarholmen Church on Wikipedia
  • 3 Södermalmstorg. A town square which has been used at least since the 15th century. From 2021 to 2023, an archaeological dig site revealed ruins and artifacts from centuries of commerce. Södermalmstorg (Q10688590) on Wikidata
  • 4 Stockholm City Museum (Stockholms stadsmuseum), Ryssgården. This building was finished in the 1660s, as Stockholm's Southern City Hall. Over the centuries, it has been used as a courthouse, a jail, an anatomic theatre, and a school. Since 1942 it is a museum; displaying Stockholm's history from 1523 to present day, with special attention to construction and architecture. The museum organizes walking tours. The courtyard has a sculpture of Mercury, which is part of the Sweden Solar System. Stockholm City Museum (Q1933896) on Wikidata Stockholm City Museum on Wikipedia
  • 5 Slussen Showroom (Slussenrummet), Södermalmstorg 4. A showroom for the redevelopment of Slussen, which is set to complete in 2025. Archaeological artifacts, posters, virtual reality sets and a scale model depict the history and future of the canal. Open daily.

Part I: The Old Town[edit]

Stockholm grew to become Sweden's capital through the Middle Ages and the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. As most structures from those times have been replaced by buildings from the 17th century or later (described in depth in the Stockholm quay palace tour) we need to look for cellars, streets, and other remnants.

  • 4 Kogghamn (Medieval Stockholm harbour). By the 13th century, the land had risen between Södermalm and Gamla stan, transforming Mälaren to a freshwater lake. A canal was dug from the lake to the sea; but as the lake was a few decimeters above sea level, the boats had to be pulled up by ropes. Stockholm had two harbours: Kornhamn (corn/grain harbor) was for the small boats of Mälaren, and Kogghamn for the cogs (merchant ships) of the Baltic Sea, which was near today's street level. Many of the cogs belonged to the Hanseatic League (Hansa), which dominated trade on the Baltic Sea during the Middle Ages. As the coastline retracted, the quays expanded outwards into the sea. The 1790 custom house (Tullhuset) was built at the earlier docks. The custom pavilions were built in 1939, and host restaurants and cafés today. Soundtrack: En ung sjöman förlustar sig by Folk & Rackare (Q18291292) on Wikidata
  • 5 Victoriaslussen. Slussen ("the sluice") is a lock opened in 1642, to allow seagoing ships into Mälaren. Over the centuries, four different locks have succeeded each other, with new bridges for trains, bicycles and public transport. In 1935, Slussen was rebuilt for the automobile, with Europe's first cloverleaf interchange. The heavy concrete structure sank down the mud. Due to expected global warming and need to regulate lake Mälaren, Stockholm has built the fifth lock, named in honour to Crown Princess Victoria. This is one of very few places in Stockholm carrying the name of a living person. Slussen (Q371929) on Wikidata
  • 6 Kastellet. A citadel from the 17th century, which flies the naval flag, and is used for gun salutes. The building exploded in 1845 and was rebuilt in 1848. Kastellet (Q4176816) on Wikidata Kastellet, Stockholm on Wikipedia
  • 7 Räntmästarhuset (Treasurer's house). A building from the 1660s, commissioned for treasurer Börje Cronberg. On the wall is a plaque commemorating Georgian Prince Alexander Bagrationi, a general for the Russian Empire, who was taken as a prisoner of war at the 1700 battle of Narva, and quartered in this building. Botanist Carl Linnaeus (mentioned later) had a clinic in the building from 1739 to 1742. Räntmästarhuset (Q10658480) on Wikidata
  • 1 Zum Franziskaner ("Zum"), Skeppsbron 44. A German-themed restaurant allegedly founded in 1471. The building is however newer than it looks, and was finished in 1910. Zum Franziskaner, Stockholm (Q10725072) on Wikidata
  • 6 Järntorget (Iron Square). This marketplace was at the waterfront until the 14th century. As the shoreline retracted, the square remained an important trading place, known as the Iron Square since 1489. Until 1662, it was a trading place for iron, copper and other metals from the mining district Bergslagen, shipped across lake Mälaren to Stockholm, for toll collection and export across the Baltic Sea. Metal is still among Sweden's main export commodities; three mines in Bergslagen still produce lead, copper and zinc. Iron is mined in Sweden's far north; see the Norrbotten Megasystem. Soundtrack: Herr Mannelig by Garmarna. Järntorget (Q4566667) on Wikidata Järntorget (Stockholm) on Wikipedia
Västerlånggatan 78: Building at Järntorget with visible subsidence damage.
  • 8 Deucalion block, Västerlånggatan 78. It was not just post-glacial rebound that caused the shoreline to retract; citizens also threw household waste over the shore. Today's waterfront buildings were erected in the 17th century on new land, supported by wooden piles through the casual landfill. As the land subsided, and the wooden piles dried up, the buildings were visibly deformed with big cracks.
  • 9 Södra Bankohuset (Southern Bank House), Järntorget 84. The city's official iron weighing house was located here until 1662. It was replaced by the current building, Riksens Ständers Bank, later Sveriges Riksbank, the world's oldest surviving central bank. The building is allegedly the world's oldest surviving bank building. Sweden's currency used to be daler (same word root as dollar). The copper mine in Falun was in use since the 9th century AD, and in the Middle Ages it produced two-thirds of Europe's copper. The Crown minted enormous copper coins, which could weigh up to 20 kg (44 lb). Since 2018, the building hosts a video game studio. Though Stockholm's main export commodities have changed from hardware to software, Järntorget is still famous for its many restaurants and taverns. Most blocks in Gamla Stan got their names from Graeco-Roman mythology; this block is named Pluto, the god of material wealth and the underworld. Södra Bankohuset (Q7666363) on Wikidata Södra Bankohuset on Wikipedia
  • 7 Evert Taube statue. Swedish troubadour Evert Taube (1890–1976) was a caretaker of Sweden's ancient ballad tradition. His role model was Carl Michael Bellman (1740–1795) who worked at the Riksbank until he became a favorite of king Gustav III. Both Bellman and Taube were often seen at the taverns in Gamla stan, playing the medieval-style lute. Bellman sang on vanitas (the certainty of death) and founded the Swedish tradition of drinking songs. Taube sang about his adventures as a sailor on the high seas and as a gaucho in Argentina. Taube was one of the activists who prevented Gamla stan from being torn down in the mid-20th century, and is portrayed on today's 50 kronor banknote. Soundtrack: Stockholmsmelodi by Evert Taube.
  • 10 Västerlånggatan. The main street of Gamla stan was laid out just outside the old city wall. It used to be the thoroughfare road connecting northern and southern Sweden. The wall was replaced by buildings in the 15th century, and the street has been busy with shopping since then. While charming, the street is overcrowded at summer, and considered a bit of a tourist trap. Västerlånggatan (Q1798115) on Wikidata Västerlånggatan on Wikipedia
  • 8 Mårten Trotzigs gränd. Stockholm's narrowest alley take us to the plateau which made up medieval Stockholm. The buildings were bought by German merchant Mårten Trotzig (1559–1617), who became one of Stockholm's wealthiest citizens through metal trading. The alley has steps; a more accessible road can be found east of the block. Shut down at night. Mårten Trotzigs gränd (Q2575880) on Wikidata Mårten Trotzigs Gränd on Wikipedia
  • 9 Tyska Stallplan. This square is the southern end of the plateau which was surrounded by Stockholm's old wall. Here was the city gate and the merchants' stables; thereby the name, the "German Stable Square". The horse statue is from 1956. Tyska stallplan (Q10707830) on Wikidata Tyska Stallplan on Wikipedia
  • 11 Wall anchors. The wall anchors can be used to periodize buildings.
Wall anchors typical to different periods.
  • 12 Dominican monastery (Svartbrödraklostret). In 1336, a Dominican (Black Friars) monastery was built here, just within the first city wall. The street name Svartmansgatan (Black Men's Street) refers to the monks; as in other medieval cities they were responsible for scholarship and charity. In the 16th century, king Gustav Vasa (the founder of independent Sweden) reformed the Church to Lutheran protestantism, nationalized all church property, and had this monastery and other clerical buildings scavenged to get stones for his castle. Today, the rectangular cobblestones mark the monastery's walls. As for many lost medieval buildings of Gamla Stan, the underground vaults remain, and can be booked for visit through the Museum of Medieval Stockholm. The monastery church was located where the school's playground is now; the ruins were found in 2016. Black Friars' Monastery of Stockholm (Q4920798) on Wikidata Black Friars' Monastery of Stockholm on Wikipedia
  • 13 Storkyrkoskolan (Stockholm Cathedral School). Stockholm Cathedral's School was founded in the 13th century, and still after the reformation, the Church of Sweden remained in charge of the schools. The main building was commissioned in 1666 for German-born court painter David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, considered to be the father of Swedish painting; but the school did not relocate here until the 19th century. The 1920s annex is an example of Swedish Grace; Sweden's neo-classical interpretation of Art Deco with hints of functionalism. The playground is from the same time, as buildings were torn down to give more open space on the highly exploited island. Since 1973, the Estonian school shares the same building. Storkyrkoskolan (Q10600474) on Wikidata
  • 2 Aifur, Västerlånggatan 68. A Viking-themed restaurant; slightly anachronistic, as the cellar vaults were built centuries after the last Vikings.
  • 3 6e Tunnan (Sjätte tunnan), Stora Nygatan 43. Medieval bar and restaurant with occasional live music.
  • 4 Lasse i Gatan, Västerlånggatan 60. A restaurant and bar inspired by Swedish 18th century privateers, with references to the more famous pirates in the Caribbean.
  • 5 Den Gyldene Freden, Österlånggatan 51. This restaurant is known since 1722, making it one of Sweden's oldest. The Swedish Academy eats here every Thursday. Soundtrack: Nå skruva fiolen by C M Bellman Den Gyldene Freden (Q5256462) on Wikidata Den gyldene freden on Wikipedia
  • 6 Sundbergs konditori, Järntorget 83. Opened in 1785 and at its current location since 1793, this is Stockholm's oldest café. Sundbergs Konditori (Q10683731) on Wikidata
  • 14 Jewish Museum (Judiska museet), Själagårdsgatan 19. Jews who wanted to settle in Sweden had to convert to Christianity. In 1792 Sweden legalized Judaic religion, though Jews remained second-class citizens. This 17th century building was an auction chamber until it became Stockholm's first synagogue from 1795 to 1870; the year when Jews got full civil rights, and the Great Synagogue was inaugurated. Sweden recognized Jews as one of Sweden's five national minorities in 2000. The building has among other things been a police station. The Jewish Museum (on different premises since 1992) moved into the building in 2019. Jewish Museum of Sweden (Q684827) on Wikidata Jewish Museum of Sweden on Wikipedia
  • 15 German Church (Tyska Kyrkan), Svartmangatan 16A. Officially named Sankta Gertrud, this church is the home of the first German-speaking parish outside Germany, giving some clue to the importance of German merchants (up to a third of Stockholm's population). On the site of the church, a German merchants' guild hall was built in the 14th century. In the aforementioned Protestant reformation, King Gustav Vasa seized the guild hall. In the 1570s, it was torn down (though some pieces remain) to build a Protestant church for the growing German population; now the service was held in vernacular instead of Latin. An expansion with large windows and white vaults was finished in 1642. The church belongs to the Church of Sweden, but holds services in German at 11:00 every Sunday. German Church (Q2164087) on Wikidata German Church, Stockholm on Wikipedia
  • 10 Skomakareporten (Shoemaker Gate). Here was a gate in the old city wall. In the 15th century the wall was replaced by a second city wall near the current waterfront (visible down the street), dismantled in the 17th century, as fortifications had been built in Stockholm archipelago. No enemy ever breached Stockholm's walls; though the city surrendered to Denmark in a 1520 siege; see more below.
Medieval-style buildings on Prästgatan.
  • 11 Morpheus block, Prästgatan 46–50. This block was built in the 15th century, replacing the old city wall. Only the cellar vaults are original, as a 1625 fire destroyed most of the city southwest from here, making room for the rectangular blocks on the western island. These buildings are built in the 17th and 18th centuries on top of the vaults, but they give a clue what Medieval Stockholm looked like; just three floors high, with pulley beams near the roof, and small cellar doors with wooden shutters. Above the gate of #46 is a fire insurance plaque, giving priority during firefighting and reconstruction. This has been misunderstood as if firefighters would never put out fires in uninsured buildings; that would however be unreasonable, and is not true. #48 is built by rough bricks typical to the Middle Ages. (Q26253405) on Wikidata
  • 12 Uppland Runic Inscription 53, Kåkbrinken 1. Old Norse people left few artifacts to posterity, before books and stone masonry became common in the 13th century. However, they wrote runestones, this one was made around AD 1100, and got accidental fame, as it ended up in a wall of a 17th century building. The laconic inscription says Thorsteinn and Freygunnr had this stone [raised] in memory of [...] their son. There is no evidence that these people had travelled far; the few runestones that mention overseas travellers (Vikings) are much more famous. The cannon was set up in the 17th century to protect the building from wagons. Uppland Runic Inscription 53 (Q7899119) on Wikidata Uppland Runic Inscription 53 on Wikipedia
Stortorget facing west. Schantzka huset in the middle. The Nobel Museum to the right
  • 13 Stortorget. Stortorget (the Great Square) is Stockholm's oldest square, dated back to the 13th century. Occasional markets and fairs are held here, including a Christmas market. Stortorget (Q3048023) on Wikidata Stortorget on Wikipedia
  • 16 Köpmantorget (Struggle for independence). The street heading east has been named Köpmangatan ("Merchant Street") since 1323, and is thereby Stockholm's oldest known street. At the east end was Köpmantorget, ("Merchant Square") and the eastern gate in the old wall. Outside the wall was the fish market; the waterfront was just below the slope. The sculpture of Saint George (Sankt Göran) and the Dragon commemorates the 1471 Battle of Brunkeberg. To simplify a lot, Sweden, Norway and Denmark were joined in the Kalmar Union during the 15th century. The Swedish nobles wanted their own king in Stockholm, and in a battle at Brunkeberg (on today's Norrmalm), Swedish separatists led by regent Sten Sture the Elder drove out the unionist army. The event was a prelude to the 1520s liberation war, and has been romanticized as a step towards Swedish independence. The statue was commissioned by Sten Sture for anti-Danish propaganda. The original is in the Stockholm Cathedral, and the one on Köpmantorget is a 1912 replica. Sweden and Denmark were rivals up to the 19th century, and fought eleven wars against each other. Köpmantorget (Q3439847) on Wikidata Köpmantorget on Wikipedia
  • 17 Schantzska huset (Stockholm Bloodbath), Stortorget 20. Stortorget was used for corporal punishment since it was built, including whipping, public shaming and occasional death sentences. The courthouse was located where the Nobel Museum is now. The most infamous event was the 1520 Stockholm Bloodbath (Stockholms blodbad). Stockholm had just surrendered to Danish king Kristian II (who since then has been known as Kristian the Tyrant in Sweden), and he had at least 80 Swedish noblemen and dignitaries beheaded for heresy (as they supported Swedish independence). Beheading by sword was considered painless, and a privilege for the nobles; Stockholm's mayor and a few judges were hanged, totalling at least 92 deaths. The massacre sparked the liberation war against Denmark, in which Gustav Vasa was elected king on 6 June 1523, a date which became Sweden's National Day. Sweden has been independent since then; the war is regarded to be the end of the Middle Ages, and the founding moment of Sweden. The white stones in the red building (built for Johan Schantz, secretary of King Charles X Gustav) are said to commemorate the victims. Soundtrack: Gustav Vasa och dalkarlarna by Jan-Åke Hillerud Schantzska huset (Q10663147) on Wikidata
The commemorative cannonball.
  • 18 Cannonball, Skomakaregatan 1. On the corner of the building is a clearly visible cannonball, which was said to be fired in the 1523 liberation war. It was however added when the building was erected in 1795, as one of many symbolic commemorations of the war.
  • 7 Café Sten Sture, Trångsund 10. A café in a 14th century cellar vault. The building used to be a monastery, which just like the others was dismantled during the Reformation. The cellar was later used as a prison; the most notorious inmate was Johan Jacob Anckarström, sentenced to death for assassinating King Gustav III in 1792.
  • 8 Grillska huset, Stortorget 3. This medieval building was from 1681 to 1800 owned by the Grills; one of Sweden's first wealthy common families. The building has a café and restaurant run by the Stockholm City Mission, a charitly. It is more affordable than the slightly overpriced venues around the square. Grillska huset (Q10508805) on Wikidata
  • 19 Cepheus block (Kvarteret Cepheus), Stortorget 3 (Enter through Grillska huset, go to the courtyard terrace). The Cepheus block was an overcrowded slum during the 19th century, the current yard filled with buildings, and was considered to be torn down to the ground. Over the 20th century, historic architecture became more appreciated. A renovation process from the 1930s to the 1960s dismantled some buildings to create a courtyard, but refitted most of them with modern utilities, making Cepheus a hallmark of refitting historic buildings. The courtyard is private, and can be watched from the café's terrace. Kvarteret Cepheus (Q10550966) on Wikidata
  • 14 Stortorget well (Stortorgsbrunnen). The well was built in 1778. It used to be Stockholm's zero mile marker; the point from which Sweden's roads were measured. As it ran dry (due to the rising land), it was moved to Brunkebergstorg in 1857. Like many other cities, human waste was dumped in the water, and cholera and other epidemics were common causes of death up to the mid-19th century. In 1861 Stockholm got its first public waterworks, as one of the last European capitals to get tap water. The water in Mälaren was polluted by untreated sewage into the mid-20th century, but due to harsh pollution control, the lake water is famously clean today; practically ready to drink without treatment. The well came back to its first location in 1953, now fed with tap water. A remaining concern for wells in the Stockholm archipelago is to keep lake water from mixing with the brackish water of the Baltic Sea. Stortorgsbrunnen (Q10681422) on Wikidata
A cutout from the 1535 Sun Dog Painting, Vädersolstavlan, of Stockholm from the west. The surviving copy is kept in Storkyrkan.

Part II: Palace and Parliament[edit]

Around the Royal Palace and Riksdag (Parliament), we see the rise and fall of the Swedish Empire during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the road to democracy, with universal suffrage achieved in 1918, and see Sweden's political institutions today.

Slottsbacken. From the left: Stockholm Palace, Nationalmuseum (Vasa shipyard), Gustav III Statue, Telegraph House and Tessin Palace.
  • 15 Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan), Trångsund 1 (next to the Royal Palace). Storkyrkan ("the Great Church") is the oldest church in Gamla stan, with the first elements built in Gothic style in the 13th century. The choir was shrunk down in 1554 on the order of Gustav Vasa, to allow cannon fire from the Tre Kronor Castle. The perimeter of the old wall can be seen in the paving stones. The church contains two famous works of art: the original 15th-century wooden statue of Saint George, and a copy of the oldest known image of Stockholm, Vädersolstavlan ("The Sun Dog Painting"), a 1636 copy of a lost original from 1535. Storkyrkan (Q1133075) on Wikidata Storkyrkan on Wikipedia
  • 16 Slottet Tre Kronor (Castle Three Crowns). The Three Crowns make up Sweden's coat of arms (visible on the palace's main gate) since the 14th century. The origin is unknown; the crowns have been said to represent Norse gods Odin, Thor and Frey, the Biblical Magi, or the Papal Palace in Avignon. Tre Kronor was a 13th century keep in the city wall, which expanded over the centuries, as it became the King's castle (the Swedish word slott can be read both as castle and palace). Today, the Stockholm Palace stands on the same spot. The cobblestones in the ground mark the castle's perimeter. Some of the ruins are on display in the Museum Tre Kronor in the Palace's basement. See also Swedish monarchy. Tre Kronor Castle (Q147009) on Wikidata Tre Kronor (castle) on Wikipedia
  • 17 Olaus Petri statue. Olaus Petri (1493-1552) was a cleric and polymath born to the much more Swedish-sounding name Olof Pettersson. He was instrumental in the Protestant Reformation, wrote Sweden's first theatrical play, first judiciary code, and much of the first Swedish Bible translation. He is buried beneath the cathedral's pulpit. The statue was inaugurated in 1898.
Stockholm was well-situated in the centre of the Swedish Empire, as travel by sea was fastest, and northern Scandinavia had very small population.
  • 20 Vasa shipyard. The Swedish Empire reached the height of its power in the 17th century, nearly encircling the Baltic Sea, creating the need for a strong navy, not least since King Gustav II Adolf (also known as Gustavus Adolphus) drew Sweden into the Thirty Years War. Stockholm's shipyards launched many warships; the least successful of them accidentally became the most famous today: the Vasa. She was built on Blasieholmen (across the water, where Nationalmuseum is now) and towed to Tre Kronor Castle to get loaded with ballast and artillery. The 48 bronze cannons made Vasa one of Sweden's heaviest ships, the Empire's Death Star... though very unstable. Her maiden voyage in 1628 was intended to be a moment of pride; but she could only sail a mile before catching wind, capsizing and sinking between Beckholmen and Södermalm, drowning at least 30 people. Most of the expensive cannons were salvaged in 1664, but the ship herself fell into obscurity, and was not discovered again until 1956.
  • 21 Axel Oxenstierna Palace, Storkyrkobrinken 2. Axel Oxenstierna was Sweden's head of government from 1614 to his death in 1654 (just before his palace was finished) and acting head of state from 1632 to 1644, as the guardian of young Queen Kristina. By far the most powerful non-monarch of the Swedish Empire, he is considered the father of Swedish bureaucracy, having founded many of today's government agencies, such as the counties and the postal service. Swedish civil service has a high degree of independence from the executive power; at times cited to prevent corruption. The world’s least corrupt country has for many years been Finland; which inherited its civil service from Sweden. Axel Oxenstierna Palace (Q403404) on Wikidata Axel Oxenstierna palace on Wikipedia
  • 18 Stockholm Palace (Kungliga Slottet). By the 17th century, the Tre Kronor Castle was of no military value, and the expansion of the Swedish Empire called for a more glorious seat of government. King Charles XI commissioned a Baroque palace and had most of the northern wing done by 1697, as a fire destroyed much of the old castle, starting two decades of misfortune for the Empire. Most of the national archives were lost, making historical research difficult. Six months after the fire, he died and his son Charles XII became king at age 15. Stockholm Palace (Q750444) on Wikidata Stockholm Palace on Wikipedia
Plaque above Stockholm Palace main gate.
For the greatest, happy, pious and always exalted King,
the northern world's splendorous father of fatherland,
whose undefeated virtue,
through Herculean strife,
has led him to glory's height,
life and victory,
and Sweden's tireless wish,
stands here the fortunate building,
and glows of gold
  • 19 Stockholm Palace main gate (Great Northern War). In 1700, Denmark, Poland and Russia attacked Sweden starting the Great Northern war, which Charles XII spent his whole adult life fighting. His soldiers, the legendary Caroleans, were usually outnumbered, but won many battles in the early stage of the war. He led a failed campaign in Russia, spent five years in exile in the Ottoman Empire, returned to war, and died in battle in Halden in Norway in 1718. From 1719, the Russians pillaged Stockholm archipelago, but failed to invade Stockholm. In the 1721 Nystad treaty, Sweden had to cede the Baltic provinces to Russia, which became the dominant power of the Baltic Sea, and enabled Russia's ruler Peter the Great to style himself the first Emperor of Russia. Charles XII is saluted as the builder of the palace in the plaque on the main entrance (flanked by war trophies), but construction was on hold during much of the war.
  • 22 The Royal Armoury (Livrustkammaren), Slottsbacken 3. Branding itself as "Sweden's oldest museum", with uniforms, weapons and other belongings of Swedish royals since 1628, including Gustav II Adolf and Charles XII. Karl (also spelled Carl, Charles in English, Carolus in Latin) is among Sweden's most common given names; this article names at least seven non-royal Carls. Sweden has many kings with the name, up to reigning king Carl XVI Gustaf, the first six of them were legendary figures without historical evidence, implicitly reigning before Sweden was unified around AD 1000. Free admission. Royal Armoury (Q1636176) on Wikidata Livrustkammaren on Wikipedia
  • 23 Finnish Church. Sweden and Finland were the same country from the 13th century to 1809. Finnish soldiers fought bravely in Swedish wars, and Swedes and Finns are the largest ethnic minority in their respective countries. The building was erected in 1653 as a tennis hall, and hosted Sweden's first theatre company. The Finnish parish inaugurated the church in 1725. Finnish Church (Q4357115) on Wikidata Finnish Church, Stockholm on Wikipedia
  • 20 Royal Palace south wing. As parliament gradually limited the monarch's power, the new era came to be known as the Age of Liberty, Frihetstiden, and heralded the rise of art and science in Sweden. The palace was finished in 1754, with statues of great Swedish men of the time. The four to the left are Erik Dahlbergh (who designed most fortresses of the Swedish Empire), Carl Linnaeus (founder of systematic biology), polymath Georg Stiernhielm (founder of Swedish poetry) and Nicodemus Tessin the Younger (the palace's architect, succeeding his namesake father), as well as scenes of Graeco-Roman mythology. Sweden was a forerunner in free speech and other civil rights; the 1766 Freedom of the Press Act is the world's oldest free press law, and remains as one of the four volumes of the Swedish Constitution. Soundtrack: Drottningholmsmusiken by Johan Helmich Roman.
  • 24 Gustav III statue. Gustav III ruled Sweden from 1771 to 1792. Inspired by the French Enlightenment, he was a patron of the arts, founding the Swedish Academy, the Opera, and a collection of ancient sculptures, today on display in the Palace. He promoted the rule of law, abolishing torture and limiting capital punishment, and purchased Saint-Barthélemy, Sweden's only long-lasting Caribbean colony, and a station in the Atlantic slave trade. He was also the world's first head of state to recognize the independence of the United States of America, and undertook a Grand Tour to Italy. Gustav III is considered to have ended the Age of Liberty, as he limited the free press and parliamentary power. As he stripped the nobles of their privileges, many noblemen turned against him, and had him assassinated at a masquerade ball in the Opera House. The statue was erected in 1808 on the quay where he landed after his victory against Russia in 1790. Statue for Gustav III (Q10511146) on Wikidata
  • 21 Swedish Academy and Nobel Prize Museum. The property north of Stortorget used to be Stockholm's city hall, with a courthouse and jail. In 1776, the Stock Exchange was built here. The building now hosts the Swedish Academy was funded by Gustav III in 1786 to promote Swedish language and literature. In 1901 they got their most famous assignment: the jury for the Nobel Prize for literature. Since 1883 they have also had an assignment to make the comprehensive Swedish dictionary; the 39th and final volume was finished in 2023. The bottom floor of the building hosts the Nobel Prize Museum. Swedish Academy (Q207360) on Wikidata Swedish Academy on Wikipedia
  • 22 The Obelisk at Slottsbacken. Commissioned by King Gustav III to reward Stockholm's citizens for defending the city in the war against Russia from 1788 to 1790. While the kings mentioned earlier have many monuments in their honour, the obelisk is the only place in Stockholm bearing the name of Gustav IV Adolf, son and successor of Gustav III. As he lost a war against Russia in 1809, he was forced to cede Finland, was deposed in a coup, and spent the rest of his life in exile as one of Sweden's least popular kings ever. The 1809 constitution limited the monarch's power again. The obelisk was replaced by a replica in 2020. Obelisk at Slottsbacken (Q7074706) on Wikidata Obelisk at Slottsbacken on Wikipedia
  • 23 Karl XIV Johan statue. As Sweden's elderly king Karl XIII had no legitimate heirs, he adopted Napoleon's field marshal Jean Bernadotte, who became Crown Prince, and in 1818 King Karl XIV Johan of Sweden and Norway (which had been forced into a union with Sweden four years earlier). The House of Bernadotte has been on the Swedish throne since then, though the monarchs' power since then has been gradually limited. The statue was erected at Slussen in 1854. In 2018, two centuries after Karl Johan's coronation, the statue got its current location.
  • 25 Storkyrkobrinken. In the mid-19th century, the right to vote was expanded in many European countries. Sweden remained one of few places where only the Estates (stånd: nobles, clergy, guilds and land-owning farmers) were represented in parliament. As the liberal revolutions of 1848 spread to Sweden, suffrage protests at Storkyrkobrinken turned to looting on March 19th. King Oscar I ordered a cavalry unit to disperse the crowd, killing at least 18 people. The event was referred to as "Stockholm's second bloodbath", but as status quo was preserved, it is little known in Sweden today. Sweden never had a revolution, but suffrage was gradually expanded. In 1866, the Estates were abolished, and all property-owning men of age 21 could vote; around 20 per cent of the adult population. Storkyrkobrinken (Q7620080) on Wikidata Storkyrkobrinken on Wikipedia
  • 24 Royal Guards (Kungliga Högvakten). The outer courtyard is the place for the changing of the Royal Guards (Högvakten). Until the 19th century, they were needed for policing and firefighting. They also had artillery; Sweden has been known for cannon-making for centuries, and four memorial m/1881 cannons (the first Swedish cannon made of steel) remain on the courtyard. Today, the Royal Guards are not a permanent organization; the honour is shared between different units of the Armed Forces. While they are primarily ceremonial, they have authority to use force, and do so against antisocial behaviour around the palace. Royal Guards in Stockholm (Q2983823) on Wikidata Royal Guards (Sweden) on Wikipedia
  • 25 Christina Gyllenstierna statue. Kristina Nilsdotter of the Gyllenstierna house led Sweden's uprising against Denmark in the 1510s. She was the widow of Sweden's acting head of state, Sten Sture the Younger (who took the name of his predecessor Sten Sture the Elder, without kinship by blood). The statue was erected on the Stockholm Palace courtyard in 1912, as Sweden's first public monument for a woman. Driving forces behind the statue were the defense of Stockholm (with the arms race before World War I), and the movement for women's suffrage. As in the rest of Europe, many men were drafted, causing more women to take up paid jobs, joining trade unions and women's organizations. Kristina Gyllenstierna statue (Q47461668) on Wikidata
King Gustav V speaks at the Palace courtyard in 1914 for higher arms spending.
  • 26 Palace courtyard. In February 1914, the palace courtyard saw the last power grab by a Swedish monarch, borggårdskrisen ("the courtyard crisis"). Due to the threat of war in Europe, King Gustav V demanded higher military spending, refused by liberal Prime Minister Karl Staaff. The King was supported by many celebrities, including explorer Sven Hedin (famous for charting Central Asia) and 30,000 peasants who had rallied in Stockholm. He made an eloquent courtyard address (borggårdstalet), asserting his power as commander in chief. Four days later, Staaff resigned in protest. While the conservative opposition supported the king's arms race, they would not govern under an overreaching head of state. A caretaker government kept Sweden out of the Great War; though food shortage fueled protests, pushing Sweden to the brink of socialist revolution. Since a 1918 reform, the monarch is a figurehead, and all adults can vote. Gustaf V remained on the throne until his death in 1950, at age 92, famous as a patron of sports, and a skilled tennis player.
  • 26 Helvetesgränd, Prästgatan. This cul-de-sac was since the Middle Ages known as Helvetesgränd, "Hell Alley", due to its location north of the cathedral. As the land north of the church was seen as condemned, it was the home of people with despised professions, such as the executioner. Up to the 18th century, many crimes were punished by death, but capital punishment became more and more limited. The last execution was carried out in 1910 for murder; the only time a guillotine has been used in Sweden. Since 1921, death sentence was restricted to war time. The 1973 constitution prohibits capital and corporal punishment.
  • 9 Café Muren, Västerlånggatan 19. A cellar café with remnants of the old city wall.
  • 27 The House of Nobility (Riddarhuset). The building for sessions of the noble estate. Most of their privileges were abolished with parliamentary reform in 1866. In 2003, Sweden's nobility became a private organization, with the last token privileges were abolished, such as the King's obligation to resolve kidnapping of noblemen abroad. The statue in front of the building depicts Gustav Vasa.
  • 27 Italian founder statues, Västerlånggatan 13. The gypsum busts of Italian founding fathers Giuseppe Garibaldi, Victor Emanuel II and Camillo di Cavour were erected in 1862 on a 17th century building, illustrating the nationalist movement of the 1860s Europe, as empires and city-states were replaced by nation-states. Both Italy and Scandinavia had a continuum of similar dialects and languages, and were candidates for unification. Sweden and Norway had a personal union from 1814, but as the Norwegians grew unhappy of being ruled from Stockholm, they voted for independence in 1905. There were proposals for a Nordic Union between Sweden, Norway and Denmark (which included Iceland), with Finland (then part of the Russian Empire) as a prospective member, and a monetary union was created in 1873. Finland is independent since 1917, and Iceland since 1944. The Nordic countries cooperate through the Nordic Council since 1952, and are more integrated than ever in the 21st century.
  • 28 Brandkontoret (Stockholm Fire Insurance Office), Mynttorget 4. Since 1806, this building hosts the Stockholm Fire Office, a property insurance co-operative, founded in 1746 as Scandinavia's oldest surviving insurance company. In the mid-19th century, the company bought wooden buildings and had them replaced with stone buildings, most of which still stand today. To prevent fires, they invested in plumbing and gas lights; typical street lights can still be seen on the building. Brandkontoret (Q10434731) on Wikidata
  • 28 Parliament's democracy exhibition, Mynttorget (Mynttorget). Until 2022, the Swedish Parliament celebrates 100 years of universal suffrage through a display window exhibition. Since 1975, the voting age is 18. The most recent suffrage expansion was in 1989, as adults under guardianship got the right to vote. Mynttorget is usually busy with political demonstrations.
  • 29 Royal Palace today (Kungliga Slottet). The Royal Palace remains the monarch's official residence, but King Carl XVI Gustaf, reigning since 1973, lives in Drottningholm Palace in Ekerö (which can be reached by ferries from the City Hall). His motto is För Sverige i tiden ("For Sweden, with the times"); as an avid environmentalist, he had solar panels installed on the palace roof. Since 1976, he is married to German-Brazilian commoner Silvia Sommerlath, continuing a tradition of German spouses for Swedish kings. A 1980 bill gave gender-neutral succession to the throne, making Princess Victoria, born in 1977, the heir apparent. Most of the palace is open to the public, unless being used for a state ceremony. Entrance ticket includes The Royal Apartments, the Tre Kronor Museum, the Treasury, and Gustav III's Museum of Antiquities. Since 2011, a restoration of the Palace's exterior is under way, scheduled to finish in the 2030s. Soundtrack: Dancing Queen by ABBA. Stockholm Palace (Q750444) on Wikidata Stockholm Palace on Wikipedia
  • 29 Swedish Parliament (Sveriges riksdag). Nordic representative governments have their roots in the Old Norse thing, a word still used for the parliaments of Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Sweden has the more German-inspired word riksdag, literally "kingdom day", a term which reveals that the assembly used to be occasional. In 1866, the riksdag became a permanent two-chamber parliament, and the original riksdag building on Riddarholmen turned out to be too small for the chambers. The Neo-Baroque building, finished in 1905, was intended to rival the palace. It has a great collection of exterior sculptures, some of them from dismantled government buildings. Parliament House of Sweden (Riksdagshuset) (Q1101073) on Wikidata Parliament House, Stockholm on Wikipedia
  • 30 Parliament Chamber (Riksdagens plenisal). The west wing of the building, at Lake Mälaren, was built for the Riksbank office. A 1971 reform merged the riksdag to one chamber of 350 members, too many to seat in the old building. The 1973 election gave both coalitions 175 seats, so the votes had to be settled by lottery. For the next term, the number of seats was decreased to 349. A renovation finished in 1983 made room for the new chamber in the west wing, with a bleacher for the public. The old building is used for parliamentary groups and committees. Free guided tours in Swedish and English, and occasional access to sessions and debates.
  • 31 Stallbron. The "Stable Bridge" got its name from the stables that occupied the small island before the riksdag. Kanslihuset ("chancellery house") contains offices for members of parliament. For the 1980s renovation, a skybridge between the office and the chamber building was suggested, but dismissed for aesthetic reasons. The passage was instead built below the bridge, barely visible from the quays. Before a vote in parliament, the members get a signal 10 minutes in advance, to complete the walk. Stallbron (Q7597303) on Wikidata Stallbron on Wikipedia
  • 32 Riksäpplet. The Globus cruciger is an ancient symbol for the monarch's divine right to rule on Earth. In Swedish it is more casually known as Riksäpplet, "the kingdom apple", and has been a piece of the Swedish Regalia since the 16th century (on display in the Stockholm Palace Treasury). 20 apples were made of granite for the Riksdag's roof. For a renovation in the 1930s, 14 of them were relocated, two on the ground near the riksdag. The 1980s renovation added glass fiber replicas of the apples to the roof. (Q10655361) on Wikidata
  • 30 Rosenbad (Swedish Government Offices). The 1902 Jugend (art nouveau) building was built for a bank, and acquired by the government in 1922. Since the 1980s, most government ministries are located in the neighbouring buildings, connected by underground tunnels. Not open to the public. Rosenbad (Q744615) on Wikidata Rosenbad on Wikipedia
  • 31 Sager House (Sagerska huset), Strömgatan 18. Stockholm has many palaces (see Stockholm waterfront palace tour). This 1900 neo-Renaissance palace was the last one used as a private home; the last resident, widow Vera Sager, died in 1988. The 1986 assassination of Olof Palme (see below) had called for increased security, and since 1995, Sweden's Prime Minister lives here. Not open to the public. Sager House (Q1886105) on Wikidata Sager House on Wikipedia

Part III: Building a nation[edit]

From the 1860s to the 1960s, Sweden rose from a poor agrarian country to a post-industrial welfare state. As Stockholm sprawled outwards with railroads and motorways and evaded the World Wars, Norrmalm became the new business district, with expressions of Sweden's new national identity with historical monuments, museums and buildings to commemorate and romanticize its past. The Swedish Grace tour delves deeper in the 1920s, with the Swedish interpretation of Art Deco architecture.

View from Riksbron across Riddarfjärden. Twin towers of Högalid Church to the left; Heleneborg is at the waterfront just below them. Stockholm City Hall is to the right.
  • 33 Riksbron. This 1931 bridge gives a panoramic view of Stockholm's government offices, as well as Norrström, a stream which drops 70 centimeters from Lake Mälaren to the Baltic Sea. To the west, we can see two important locations in the history of the Nobel Prize: Heleneborg and Stockholm City Hall. Riksbron (Q7334096) on Wikidata Riksbron on Wikipedia
  • 32 Heleneborg. Heleneborg is a mansion on western Södermalm; while the building itself is difficult to see, it is just below the twin towers of the 1920s Högalid Church. The property's waterfront has been used for various industries since the 17th century. The most famous tenant was the young chemist Alfred Nobel, who tried to improve on the newly discovered and dangerously explosive nitroglycerin. On September 3rd 1864, an explosion (which was heard across the city) killed six people, including Alfred's 21-year old brother Emil. The city tightened safety rules, forcing Alfred to relocate the experiments to barges on the lake. He acquired a new factory in Vinterviken, a suburb a few kilometers further southwest. Two years later, Alfred Nobel invented dynamite and made a fortune, most of which became the foundation for the Nobel Prize, for physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. Heleneborg (Q10519458) on Wikidata Heleneborg on Wikipedia
  • 33 Stockholm City Hall (Stockholms stadshus). The eastern point of the Kungsholmen island was the site of a steam-powered grain mill named Eldkvarn. It burnt down on 31 October 1878, lighting up the city, coining the still used expression "sedan Eldkvarn brann" (since Eldkvarn burnt down) for something that happened long ago. The building was finished in 1923, and hosts the Nobel Prize Banquet on 10 December every year. Guided tours daily. Soundtrack: Festspel Op 25 by Hugo Alfvén. Stockholm City Hall (Q648483) on Wikidata Stockholm City Hall on Wikipedia
  • 34 Western Main Line (Sammanbindningsbanan). Alfred Nobel's first engineering assignment was to blast a 480 m (1,570 ft) rail tunnel through Södermalm with nitroglycerin. The project lasted from 1864 to 1870, and enabled a double-tracked railway through Stockholm to open in 1871. The fast journeys across Sweden led to the adoption of a national time zone in 1878. With plenty of hydroelectric power, and hardly any domestic fossil fuels, most of Sweden's railways were electrified by the 1930s. The bridge serves all connections south and west of Stockholm, and became Sweden's most congested rail line, with serious delays in the 2000s. A parallel tunnel finished in 2017 has improved traffic flow.
  • 35 Västerbron. This 1935 arch bridge became Stockholm's first north-south bridge outside the Old Town. In 1993, it was close to be wrecked by an aircraft disaster. Since the 1930s, Sweden has had state-of-the-art military aircraft made by SAAB; the current model, the Saab 39 Gripen, known for its advanced control system, had its first public exhibition at a Stockholm festival on 8 August 1993. One of the planes stalled just above the crowded bridge, but as of a miracle, it crashed a few metres off the bridge in a park; the only injured person got burns from touching the wreck. As of the 2020s, Gripen is used by air forces around the world, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa, Thailand and Brazil. Västerbron (Q580518) on Wikidata Västerbron on Wikipedia
  • 36 Norrbro. Built from 1787 to 1807 (vith the first stone laid by Gustav III), this is Stockholm's oldest surviving bridge. In 1853, the bridge was equipped by Stockholm's first gas lights, and in 1881 the first electric arc lamps. A renovation was completed in 2010 (with the first stone laid by Crown Princess Victoria). The lion statues with the hieroglyphics are copies of statues in the Vatican Museum. Norrbro (Q1568911) on Wikidata Norrbro on Wikipedia
  • 34 Gustavus Adolphus statue. Gustavus Adolphus II (reigning 1611–1632), is remembered as a commander in the Thirty Years War, where he died in Lützen. The statue was erected in 1796 as Sweden's first mounted statue, and the first of several monuments to commemorate the dwindling Swedish Empire, and restore a national identity. The man depicted at the plinth is Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna. Gustav II Adolf statue, Stockholm (Q10511153) on Wikidata
  • 35 Gustav Adolfs torg. This square saw the resolution of a 1743 uprising by people of Dalarna called Stora daldansen (Great Dala Dance) due to the province's tradition of folk dance. In Dalarna, most of the land has been owned by peasants, rather than the nobility and the crown; and those peasants have rebelled against the government in Stockholm many times. In 1743, the people of Dalarna protested the government's restrictions on trade with Norway, and the lack of peasant representation. Hundreds of them, including armed soldiers, reached the capital on 22 June. A cavalry regiment struck them down, killing 150 people. Gustav Adolfs torg (Q2854887) on Wikidata Gustav Adolfs torg, Stockholm on Wikipedia
  • 36 The Royal Swedish Opera (Operan), Gustaf Adolfs torg 2. The first opera house was built here in 1782, commissioned by King Gustav III (mentioned above; the statue is also visible left to the Palace) who was assassinated there. The building went obsolete, and was torn down in 1892. The current building was finished in 1898, and stages operas, ballets, concerts, and daily tours in English. The allées in the nearby Kungsträdgården park bear the names of two of Sweden's most accomplished opera singers: Birgit Nilsson (1918–2005, depicted on the 500 kronor banknote) and Jussi Björling (1911–1960), depicted by a bust at the opera house. Götterdämmerung: Fliegt Heim, performed by Birgit Nilsson. Royal Swedish Opera (Q254283) on Wikidata Royal Swedish Opera on Wikipedia
  • 10 Operakällaren. Strömterrassen is a café with an astounding view of the Royal Palace. Within the same building is fine dining restaurant Operakällaren and the beautiful Café Opera nightclub. Operakällaren (Q10610464) on Wikidata Operakällaren on Wikipedia
  • 11 IKEA City, Jakobsgatan 12. IKEA was founded in 1943 by 17-year old travelling salesman Ingvar Kamprad. The first store opened in Älmhult in 1953, and the second one in 1965 in Kungens Kurva south of Stockholm. Today IKEA is the world's largest furniture retailer; and while Swedish culture is the foundation for their brand, their headquarters is today in the Netherlands. This store opened in 2022 and has a smaller product range than their big-box stores, but still an inexpensive restaurant.
  • 37 Kungsträdgården. The name "the King's Garden" bears witness of the original function as a royal park, open to the public only since the late 18th century. Today it is used for festivals and other public events. Kungsträdgården (Q926316) on Wikidata Kungsträdgården on Wikipedia
  • 38 Karl XII:s torg (Charles XII square). King Charles XII (reigning 1697–1718), surrounded by four cannons. As mentioned above he spent his whole adult life at war, leading a disastrous campaign against Russia and spent five years exiled in the Ottoman Empire until he returned to Sweden to attack Norway, where he died on the battlefield. As usual for wartime rulers, Charles XII's legacy has been changing over the centuries. After his death he was described as a warmongering despot, but the wave of national romanticism of the 19th century made him a national hero, honouring him with this statue in 1868. His legacy today is more complex: he has been an icon of the far right, as well as a profile for Sweden's first exchange with Turkey. Soundtrack: Carolus Rex by Sabaton. Charles XII statue (Q15120907) on Wikidata
  • 37 Charles XIII statue. The statue further north in Kungsträdgården depicts Charles XIII (reigning 1809-1818) surrounded by four lions. He had to cede Finland to Russia, but in 1814, Sweden forced Norway into a union lasting until 1905. He was succeeded by Karl XIV Johan from the House of Bernadotte (mentioned above). The statue was nicknamed ett lejon mellan fyra krukor ("a lion between four pots"), while Charles XIII was called en kruka mellan fyra lejon ("a coward between four lions"), reflecting the late 19th century's public image of the two kings.
  • 38 National Museum of Fine Arts (Nationalmuseum), Södra Blasieholmshamnen. Sweden's national museum for European art and furnishing opened in 1866, exhibiting works by Rembrandt, Rubens, Goya, Renoir, Degas and Gauguin, as well as Swedish artists such as Carl Larsson, Ernst Josephson, C F Hill and Anders Zorn. When the museum was built, the Vikings and the Old Norse were romanticized as Scandinavian ancestors, and many works in the museum, as well as sculptures outside, depict Old Norse legends. The 20th century is represented only through industrial design; modern and contemporary art can be found in Moderna Museet on Skeppsholmen. Nationalmuseum (Q842858) on Wikidata Nationalmuseum on Wikipedia
  • 12 Grand Hôtel, Södra Blasieholmshamnen 8. A Grand Old Hotel opened in 1874 overlooking the Royal Palace, and the usual accommodation for visiting heads of state, Nobel laureates and pop stars, who can usually walk around the neighbourhood without being too disturbed by fans. The first Nobel Prize ceremonies were held here, and room No 702 is the astounding Nobel Room, where the literature prize winners stay overnight. The restaurant is one of few to regularly serve a Swedish smörgåsbord; historically an appetizer made up by cheese and herring. With the 1912 Olympics it was expanded to a full-meal buffet including seafood and meat, reaching world fame spelled as smorgasbord. Grand Hôtel (Q1221513) on Wikidata Grand Hôtel (Stockholm) on Wikipedia
  • 39 Skeppsholmen. The island of Skeppsholmen used to be the headquarters of the Swedish Navy until the 19th century. Today, most buildings are used for government functions, including the Modern Art Museum and the East Asian Museum. Skeppsholmen (Q849086) on Wikidata Skeppsholmen on Wikipedia
  • 40 HMS af Chapman. A full-rigged ship launched in 1888 under the name Dunboyne, later G.D. Kennedy. She ran freight between Gothenburg and Australia. From 1915 to 1934 she was a training ship, and since 1949 she is used as a hostel. Af Chapman (Q382006) on Wikidata Af Chapman (ship) on Wikipedia
  • 41 Kungsträdgården metro station. The Kungsträdgården metro station opened in 1977, and is known for its art, with elements from dismantled buildings in and around Kungsträdgården, such as the Makalös palace which burnt down in 1825. Due to the aforementioned protests, the eastern exit was finished as recently as 1987. Kungsträdgården metro station (Q960098) on Wikidata Kungsträdgården metro station on Wikipedia
  • 42 Survey Office (Lantmäteristyrelsens hus). Built in 1642 as a leisure palace for Queen Kristina. From 1688 to 1975, it was headquarters to the National Survey Agency. Lantmäteristyrelsens hus (Q10554137) on Wikidata
Poster from the 1922 prohibition poll. Crayfish require these drinks. You must abstain from crayfish unless you vote NO on 27th of August.
  • 43 Systembolaget headquarters. Sweden has traditionally been part of the "vodka belt" with heavy drinking on weekends and holidays. The temperance movement founded in the late 19th century pushed for harsher regulation, and in 1919 rationing of hard liquor was introduced with a personal booklet called motbok. In 1922 Sweden had its first national referendum on the proposal of total prohibition. 51% of the voters voted no (in Stockholm 86%; most teetotalers lived in the countryside). The state-owned Systembolaget is a monopoly retailer; with similar systems in Finland, Norway and Iceland (while Denmark has a more continental system). Since the 1990s, regulation has been harmonized with the European Union, but alcohol tax remains among the world's highest (have a look at the bars across the street, in Kungsträdgården). As profit is not Systembolaget's main purpose, their storefronts are less visible than liquor stores in other countries (a nearby store is in the basement of PK-huset, a mall across Hamngatan). The harsh alcohol policy is the reason why Swedish people come to your country to drink alcohol.
  • 44 Tändstickspalatset (Matchstick Palace). A Swedish Grace office building commissioned by Swedish "matchstick king" Ivar Kreuger. Having earned a Master of Engineering degree at age 20, Kreuger made his first wealth as a skyscraper engineer in New York City, allowing him to invest in the matchstick business from the 1910s. The matches we use today were a Swedish invention, and most them were produced in Sweden. Kreuger came to own 75 per cent of global production, and in the Roaring Twenties he gave low-interest loans to governments such as France and Germany, in exchange for matchstick monopoly. He co-founded the Swedish film industry, mingled with Hollywood celebrities to become one of them himself, and had the Matchstick Palace finished in 1928. The success story ended with the 1929 Wall Street crash, leading Kreuger to a liquidity crisis which he never resolved. His death (seemingly to his own hand) in 1932 was followed by company bankruptcy, which was a hard hit for Sweden on top of the Great Depression. The building had state-of-the-art technology for its time, with electric elevators, central heating, and decorations by Sweden's greatest artists at the time. Limited opportunities for visiting. Matchstick Palace (Q6786312) on Wikidata Matchstick Palace on Wikipedia

Part IV: Port to the world[edit]

View from Nybroplan. The Östermalm district with Strandvägen to the left, Blasieholmen where the Vasa was built in the 17th century to the right. In the distance is Djurgården with the Nordic Museum (left), the Vasa Museum (middle), the Nacka masts, Gröna Lund, and Henriksdal (the mushroom-shaped water tower and the tall chimney).

Nybroplan is a waterfront square, where we can sit down and see locations of events from the 1860s to the 1970s, which transformed Stockholm to a world city.

  • 39 Berzelii park. Remember that the land rises 1 metre for every 200 years? This park used to be a bay of the Baltic Sea, but by the 19th century it had become a stinking swamp in the middle of the city. To drain out the swamp and level the terrain, the park was built in the 1850s. The park was named for chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1779–1848), who lived for most of his life on nearby Nybrogatan 9, and became the first Swedish scientist to be honoured with a statue. Berzelius discovered silicon, selenium, cerium and thorium, and introduced chemical notation. Swedish chemists have discovered as many as 20 of the 118 elements in the periodic table. The Ytterby mine near Vaxholm in Stockholm archipelago (which can be reached with the ferries at the quay) produced ores in which nine rare-earth metals were first discovered; of fwhich yttrium, ytterbium, terbium and erbium got their name from Ytterby. Rare-earth metals became widely useful only in the late 20th century; the deposits in Ytterby are however not commercially viable, and opening a mine in one of Stockholm's most affluent suburbs would be complicated. The sculptures of playing bears were made in 1909 by Carl Milles, known for his revival of Roman sculpture. Berzelii park (Q4356825) on Wikidata Berzelii Park on Wikipedia
  • 40 John Ericsson statue. A statue commemorates John Ericsson, a Swedish inventor who got world fame for designing the world's first tank locomotive (the Novelty) in 1829, a favourite to win the Rainhill Trials on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. He settled in New York City in 1839, where he lived until his death in 1889. He designed the USS Monitor, an ironclad which helped the Union win the American Civil War, and introduced the modern ship propeller. John Ericsson was one of 1.5 million Swedes who emigrated to North America between the 1830s and the 1910s; more than a quarter of the country's population. From Norway, which was in union with Sweden at the time, 800,000 people crossed the Atlantic. Today, more than 4 million Americans have Swedish ancestry, most of them living in the Midwest.
  • 45 Strandvägen. "The strand road" got its name in 1885, as farms and slum shacks had been replaced by Östermalm, a district of bourgeois apartment palaces, which has since then been Stockholm's most affluent neighbourhood. Strandvägen got Stockholm's first tram line in 1877. For the first decades they were horse-powered, but horses are today a rare sight in Stockholm, except the Royal Guards. Strandvägen (Q1512169) on Wikidata Strandvägen on Wikipedia
  • 41 Nybrokajen. Nybrokajen, the local quay, is a traffic hub for steamboats to the Stockholm archipelago, trams and buses. With the 20th century the steamboats have been refitted with diesel engines, and with the 21st century with battery-powered electric engines. Nybroplan (Q716848) on Wikidata Nybroplan on Wikipedia
  • 46 Skansen. During Sweden's rapid industrialization in the late 19th century, folklorist Arthur Hazelius saw the need to preserve Swedish folk culture. In 1891 he founded the open-air museum Skansen on the Djurgården island. Skansen and the Nordic Museum were the centerpieces of the 1897 Stockholm World's Fair, and inspired living history museums around the world, to the extent that Skansen is the noun for open-air museum in Polish, Czech and Hungarian. Soundtrack: Midsommarvaka by Hugo Alfvén. Open-air museum Skansen (Q725108) on Wikidata Skansen on Wikipedia
  • 47 Nordic Museum. A cathedral-like building on Djurgården, built between 1889 and 1907, with displays of Swedish folk culture. Nordic Museum (Q1142142) on Wikidata Nordic Museum on Wikipedia
  • 13 Royal Dramatic Theatre (Dramaten), Nybroplan. Sweden's national theatre, built in Wienerjugend (art nouveau) style in 1908. The building has rich ornaments in gold and marble, and a row of sculptures, with a bust of playwright August Strindberg (1849-1912) whose play Master Olof (about the aforementioned Olaus Petri) inaugurated the building. A statue of actress Margaretha Krook (1925-2001) represents the theatre's later history. The building has a restaurant. Royal Dramatic Theatre (Q1140265) on Wikidata Royal Dramatic Theatre on Wikipedia
  • 48 1912 Olympic rowing course. The first four Olympic Games were low-key events stretched across several months. Stockholm hosted the fifth Olympics in 1912, introducing the three-week format still used today. Other lasting novelties were decathlon and pentathlon (both won by Jim Thorpe), women's diving and swimming, electric timing, photo finish, and the first participation of an Asian country (Japan). Most events were held at the Stockholm Stadium; the world's oldest surviving olympic stadium. The rowing contests had the finish line at Strandvägen, parallel to Torstenssonsgatan. Stockholm also hosted the equestrian events of the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, due to Australia's quarantine restrictions. 1912 Summer Olympics (Q8118) on Wikidata 1912 Summer Olympics on Wikipedia
  • 49 Strandvägen 7 (Hotel Diplomat). In World War II, Germany occupied Denmark and Norway in 1940, while Finland was co-belligerent with Germany. Sweden remained formally non-belligerent (not explicitly neutral), but made many concessions to Germany to keep peace, including iron export and passage of German troops to Norway and Finland. Phone lines between those countries and Germany passed through Sweden (at a switchboard at Karlaplan, 1 km to the north-east) and gave Sweden an opportunity to wiretap the Germans. With Europe at war, Stockholm became a haven for diplomats, with an opportunity to spy on their enemies. Östermalm was the embassy district, and the 1911 art nouveau palace at Strandvägen 7 hosted several embassies; for the United States, Italy, Yugoslavia and Turkey, and the German military attaché. On the backstreet was the local branch of the German Nazi Party. Sweden had strong ties with Germany since centuries, and many Swedish businesspeople remained pro-German well into the war, but the Nazi ideology still failed to become popular in Sweden. Since 1966, one wing of the building is a hotel, appropriately named Diplomat. Soundtrack: Den ökända hästen från Troja by Karl Gerhard. Strandvägen 7 (Q10681582) on Wikidata
  • 42 Raoul Wallenberg Monument. A monument near the Stockholm Synagogue (finished in 1870) commemorates Raoul Wallenberg, a diplomat who rescued 10,000 Jews in Budapest from the Holocaust. Sweden had been reluctant to accept refugees, but by 1942 the Axis atrocities became well known, partially through Swedish diplomats and journalists in Germany. Sweden's government had to mend its reputation, and prepared rescue missions. Many of Norway's Jews fled to Sweden, and most of Denmark's Jews managed to cross the sea in October 1943. The US government set up the War Refugee Board, with an office at the aforementioned Strandvägen 7. They recruited Raoul Wallenberg, who happened to have a trading company on the same address. His crew travelled to Hungary, gave diplomatic passports to Jews, and purchased buildings for the Swedish Embassy as safehouses for diplomatic passport holders. The Soviet Army arrived in 1945, and detained Wallenberg for espionage. He was never seen again; while he most probably died in a Moscow prison around 1947, he was long rumoured to be alive, and was declared dead as recently as 2016. He is celebrated as one of few true heroes in a time where Sweden could have done better, and marks a transition of Sweden's national security policy from realism to idealism. The rail tracks from the monument (alluding to the trains to the death camps) lead to the Synagogue. Raoul Wallenbergs torg (Q10649682) on Wikidata
  • 14 Prinsen, Mäster Samuelsgatan 4 (T Östermalmstorg). One of Stockholm's oldest restaurants, in this location since 1897. Serves classical Swedish and French dishes in fine dining style. Restaurang Prinsen (Q77931844) on Wikidata
  • 15 Hallwyll Museum (Hallwyllska Museet), Hamngatan 4. This urban palace was built in 1898 for Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl, collectors of art and antiques from around the world. Since 1938 it is a museum, showcasing upper-class life of the early 20th century. Some of the rooms have a historical or geographic theme. Restaurant in the courtyard. Hallwyl Museum (Q4346239) on Wikidata Hallwyl Museum on Wikipedia
  • 16 Konstnärshuset (The Artists' House), Smålandsgatan 7. The Swedish Artists' Association's building opened in 1899, inspired by Spanish and Italian Renaissance architecture. The bar, Konstnärsbaren, opened in 1931 and has wall paintings by Sweden's most famous artists of the time. Artists' House of Stockholm (Q10547720) on Wikidata Konstnärshuset on Wikipedia
  • 17 Berns Bar, Berzelii Park 9. A nightclub and music hall built in 1863, which was first in Sweden to show cancan in 1866, and to serve Chinese food in 1944. The stage has hosted world stars such as Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra, Miriam Makeba and Rihanna. Berns remains both timeless and trendy. Berns Salonger (Q826740) on Wikidata Berns salonger on Wikipedia
  • 50 Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet). The Vasa mentioned earlier was found in 1956, as the world's only preserved 17th century warship. The lengthy salvaging process was completed in 1961, and she was towed into a temporary museum. Since 1990, she is on display in the Vasa Museum on Djurgården (with ornamental masts on the roof), Sweden's most visited tourist attraction. The artifacts and human body remnants in the ship are an accidental time capsule from nearly 400 years ago. Vasa Museum (Q901371) on Wikidata Vasa Museum on Wikipedia
  • 51 Nacka masts. Sweden's first television transmitter have made regular broadcasts since 15 September 1956. Due to the risk of war, the whole command centre was built in a bedrock bunker. The masts have been replaced over time; the current ones are 299 metres, and thereby Sweden's tallest structures. Nackasändaren (Q1549630) on Wikidata Nackasändaren on Wikipedia
  • 43 Nybroplan tram station (The day when Sweden switched driving side). Sweden used to have left-hand traffic since the 18th century. Nybroplan was one of Sweden's busiest intersection, and the country's first traffic light was set up at Nybroplan in 1924. As most cars were fit for right-hand traffic (and all neighbouring countries drove on the right) there was pressure for a switch. A referendum in 1955 rejected the proposal, but Sweden finally organized a transition from left to right to take place on September 3rd, 1967. Stockholm's trams were dismantled and replaced by metro, and buses were sold to left-hand-driving countries such as Kenya and Pakistan. Line 7, to Djurgården, was restored in 1991 as a heritage line, regular since 2009. Soundtrack: Håll dej till höger, Svensson by Walter Kurtsson.
  • 52 Gröna Lund. An amusement park founded in 1883. Since the 1960s, Gröna Lund has been a stage for concerts by pop stars from the English-speaking world. Louis Armstrong, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss and Lady Gaga have played here, and of course ABBA, Sweden's most successful band ever, who have a dedicated museum and stage show next door to the park. As German hegemony ended, Sweden quickly adopted the English language and Anglo-Saxon popular culture, today having the world's second-highest English proficiency in non-Anglophone countries, behind only the Netherlands. Soundtrack: Waterloo by ABBA. Gröna Lund (Q260304) on Wikidata Gröna Lund on Wikipedia
ABBA The Museum on Djurgården displays the band's costumes from their 1974 breakthrough hit Waterloo. Today seen as kitschy, they were unusually sexy for their time.
  • 53 World's highest taxes (Dramaten). In the 1970s, the Social Democrats had governed Sweden for four decades, and expanded the Swedish welfare state, which included arts institutions such as Dramaten, and the aforementioned museums. As the marginal tax rate approached 100 per cent, many rich people sought out loopholes. April 6 1974, is considered the birthday of Swedish pop music, as Blue Swede's Hooked on a Feeling headed the Billboard list; and on the same day ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest. Those bands can attribute some of their fame from their exotic costumes; in the 1970s, kitschy stage wear was not just a fashion statement, as they were intentionally designed to be useless as private clothing, to be tax deductible. The same year, 18-year old tennis prodigy Björn Borg caused outrage as he moved to Monaco to escape taxes. Director Ingmar Bergman worked at Dramaten for decades, until 1976, when police entered the building during a rehearsal, and arrested Bergman for tax fraud. He was later acquitted, but left the country. The same year, equally world-renowned children's writer Astrid Lindgren (who later had adaptations of her books staged at Dramaten) had to pay a marginal tax rate at 102% and wrote a satirical fairytale on the theme. These celebrity tax protests contributed to the Social Democratic government losing the election the same year to a centre-right coalition. In a kind of dramatic irony, both Lindgren and Bergman are portrayed on today's Swedish banknotes. In the 2000s, wealth and inheritance tax were abolished, and as consumption taxes are high, the low-income classes bear much of the burden for Swedish welfare. Soundtrack: Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede.
  • 54 Henriksdal sewage treatment plant (Henriksdalsverket). The Henriksdal mountain is the tallest natural elevation in inner Stockholm. The tall chimney gives away the underground sewage treatment plant, which was built in 1941. It has expanded over the decades, and as of the 2020s it is a state-of-the-art facility, which extracts biogas for the city buses. On the hill is an apartment complex finished 1969 nicknamed dasslocket ("the toilet lid"). The Swedish Green party (Miljöpartiet) was founded in this building on 30 September 1980, by five people at the kitchen table of sociologist and politician Per Gahrton. See Stockholm environmentalist tour for the struggle to make Stockholm greener and more sustainable. Soundtrack: Hög standard by Peps Persson. Henriksdals reningsverk (Q10522069) on Wikidata

Part V: The world's most modern city[edit]

Stockholm's central business district was redeveloped for motorized commuting during the 1960s, in a time marked by the Cold War with a nuclear threat, and the consolidation of Sweden's welfare state. The rise of environmentalism, counterculture and street crime shattered the utopia. By year 2000, Stockholm had become a world leader in computing, sustainable technology and pop music. This is the scene for some of Sweden's most dramatic events during the last decades: a hostage crisis, two assassinations, and a terrorist attack.

  • 44 Norrmalmstorg. This square was on the waterfront until the 19th century. Today, Norrmalmstorg is surrounded by high-end offices, and is the most expensive property in the Swedish edition of Monopoly. The 1971 sculpture Laura depicts a chicken fleeing from motor traffic. Norrmalmstorg (Q1750652) on Wikidata Norrmalmstorg on Wikipedia
  • 18 Nobis Hotel (Kreditbanken). The 19th-century Kreditbanken building is known for the 1973 Norrmalmstorg robbery. The furloughed prisoner Jan Olsson tried to rob the bank; as the police arrived, he instead took three female bank tellers as hostages. The five-day standoff was broadcast live in Swedish television (with intermissions from King Gustav VI Adolf's deathbed), with notorious criminal Clark Olofsson and Prime Minister Olof Palme called in as negotiators. The police used tranquilizing gas to defeat the robber. The dramatic robbery led to urban legends, and a psychologist who never met the hostages made the false assumption that the hostages sympathized (and implicitly fell in love) with the robber, coining the term Stockholm Syndrome for a situation where a captive supports a perpetrator. Since 2009, the building is a hotel with a restaurant.
  • 45 Frihetens källa (Baltic independence monument). As the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania tried to secede from the Soviet Union in 1990, protests were held on Norrmalmstorg every Monday for more than a year, until their independence. The three republics received the first Polar Music Award in 1992 (together with Paul McCartney). In 1994, their struggle for freedom was commemorated with a fountain. Sweden promoted the Baltic States' accession to the European Union, achieved in 2004. The square has also become the location of the protests against the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • 55 Volvo Studio Stockholm. While Volvo is based in Gothenburg, the company was actually founded in Stockholm in 1926, as a subsidiary of ball-bearing maker SKF. Volvo remains Sweden's best-selling car, and one of the most recognized Swedish brands abroad. Volvo cars are markeded for their safety; in 1959 they released the 544 PV, the world's first car with 3-point seatbelts as standard issue. Volvo Cars is Chinese-owned since 2009. Volvo Group, the commercial vehicle manufacturer, remains Swedish.
Elm tree scarred by a chainsaw in 1971.
  • 46 Kungsträdgården elm trees. Out of several redevelopments of the park, the most controversial was a metro exit, which was to be built in 1971, requiring the destruction of thirteen elm trees. Public protests by the rising environmentalist movement forced the government to back down, and relocate the exit to a nearby building. Since 1998, the park is famous for its Japanese cherry trees. In the late 2010s, another controversial tree-related plan was cancelled; Apple Computers purchased the property used by TGI Fridays in the northern part of the park, and intended to build a flagship store there. Kungsträdgården (Q926316) on Wikidata Kungsträdgården on Wikipedia
Nordiska Kompaniet
  • 19 NK (Nordiska Kompaniet), Hamngatan 18-20. An upmarket department store opened in 1915, with classic fashion and Nordic furnishing. Well known for the clock tower, and the elaborate Christmas display window decorations. On September 10th, 2003, Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh was assassinated here, while on a break from campaigning for Sweden to adopt the euro in a referendum four days later (which turned down the proposal). The killer was caught and sentenced to life in prison. Nordiska Kompaniet (Q1998385) on Wikidata Nordiska Kompaniet on Wikipedia
  • 56 Spotify headquarters, Regeringsgatan 19. Spotify, founded in 2008, is the world's largest music streaming service as of 2020. In the early 2000s, Sweden was famous for pop music; and with world-leading telecoms infrastructure also became infamous for music piracy in the 2000s, with services such as Kazaa and The Pirate Bay developed in Sweden. Spotify was one of the first legal platforms for music streaming. Swedish electronic music DJs such as Avicii and Swedish House Mafia gave them an international breakthrough. Soundtrack: Don't You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia.
  • 47 Klara bomb shelter (Klara skyddsrum). Stockholm had several bomb shelters built for World War II, which never came to Sweden. As Sweden was officially non-aligned in the Cold War, with universal draft and a world-class air force, the threat of nuclear weapons required deeper bunkers. Many were built parallel to the Stockholm metro, for peacetime use as garages. The nearby Johannes bunker opened in 1955 as the world's first nuclear-proof shelter. The Klara shelter from the 1960s can hold 8,000 people (among them the government), and has several entrances (through the Riksbank garage and the metro), and a backup power plant with air conditioning; as the occupants would emit nearly 1 MW of body heat. In the 1960s, Sweden was also developing nuclear weapons, and was a few grams of plutonium short from a live bomb test when the program was terminated. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the nuclear threat against Sweden became less critical but never dismisseed. Soundtrack: 800 ° by Ebba Grön. Klara shelter (Q6419724) on Wikidata Klara shelter on Wikipedia
  • 48 Malmskillnadsgatan. The elevated street, Malmskillnadsgatan, has been dominated by office buildings. As the street is central, still deserted at evenings, it became infamous as the prostitution street; in 1999 Sweden became the world's first country to criminalize purchase (but not providing) of sexual services. The bridge gives a view of Sergels torg and the new business district. Here you can see the main office of the game developer King Digital Entertainment, known for Candy Crush Saga (with 4 billion downloads worldwide) and Bubble Witch Saga. Soundtrack: Candy Crush Theme. Malmskillnadsgatan (Q4570166) on Wikidata Malmskillnadsgatan on Wikipedia
  • 49 Klara sculpture. A tactile sculpture based on a scale model of the bohemian Klara neighborhood, which was torn down in the 1960s. A shovel shaped as the City Hall tower commemorates the heavy-handed political process, causing a backlash for building preservation. Klara, skulptur (Q10546035) on Wikidata
  • 57 Sergels torg. The Klara neighborhoods was replaced by the metro, the bomb shelters, and the technocratic utopia: a central business district with broad streets for cars (now with right-hand traffic) surrounded by bank headquarters and the Gallerian shopping mall. Socially, the project was a failure. The traffic noise was deafening, cyclists and pedestrians were displaced, and the square has been infamous for antisocial behaviour and drug-dealing, avoided by honest people after office closing time. The square was rebuilt in the 2010s to give street space back to pedestrians, and is today busy with protests, flash mobs and meetups. The rush-built 1960s buildings have been re-fitted for sustainable energy use and pro-social design. Banks and government agencies have moved to suburban locations, making room for hotels, restaurants, rooftop housing, and tech offices. Sergels torg (Q844426) on Wikidata Sergels torg on Wikipedia
  • 58 Sveriges Riksbank. The earlier mentioned Riksbank resides here since 1976. In 1968 the bank issued a prize in economics in the memory of Alfred Nobel. While it is awarded together with the regular Nobel Prizes and usually referred to as the "Nobel Prize for Economics" it has no connection to the Nobel estate. As Sweden rejected the euro in a 2003 referendum, it remains the world's oldest central bank. As of 2020, Sweden is one of the world's most cashless countries. Riksbankshuset (Q2814367) on Wikidata
  • 59 Klara church (Klara kyrka). Built in the 16th century, this is Scandinavia's second tallest church, at 116 metres. One of few buildings to survive the 1960s redevelopment, it is a base for charity to the homeless and others in need. Klara Church (Q1540683) on Wikidata Klara Church on Wikipedia
  • 20 [dead link] The House of Culture (Kulturhuset). Kulturhuset is a 1970s concrete building which was first used as a temporary location for the Swedish parliament. Since the 1980s it hosts the Stockholm City Theatre, libraries, galleries and cafés. The bottom floor has a staffed showroom of ongoing construction in Stockholm (Stockholmsrummet) with a scale model including planned buildings. The top floor has an astounding view of the central business district. The House of Culture (Q204298) on Wikidata The House of Culture (Stockholm) on Wikipedia
  • 50 Space, Sergelgatan 2. A convention centre, video gaming arena and music studio. Until 2023 they feature an interactive exhibition dedicated to the Swedish music producer and DJ Avicii, also known as Tim Bergling. From his debut in 2011 to his untimely death in 2018, he was one of the world's must successful acts in electronic music. A plaque on the building commemorates the foundation of the Swedish Football Association on December 18th, 1904. Soundtrack: Without You by Avicii.
The street corner at the metro exit to Åhléns department store is a popular meeting point. In 2017, a lorry driven by a terrorist crashed into the building. Since 2020, it is one of several spots with same-sex couple traffic lights.
  • 51 Drottninggatan traffic lights. One of Stockholm's busiest shopping streets is known as "the Queen's Street" since the 17th century, seemingly named for reigning queen Kristina. While the section toward Gamla Stan is filled by generic chain stores and cafés, more alternative shopping and dining can be found further north. The intersection with Mäster Samuelsgatan is one of several where traffic lights depict same-sex couples, commemorating the LGBT movement; homosexuality was decriminalized in 1944, civil unions were allowed in 1995, and marriage became gender-neutral in 2009 (see also LGBT Stockholm).
  • 21 H&M headquarters, Drottninggatan 56. Hennes & Mauritz, H&M for short, is the world's largest fashion retailer as of 2020. Founded in Västerås in 1947, they are seated in Stockholm, with several stores around the city. The 2008 headquarters building has a café with typical Swedish furnishing. Haymarket by Scandic (Q26253670) on Wikidata
  • 52 Drottninggatan/Bryggargatan. During the Christmas shopping season in 2010, a terrorist supporting the Islamic State detonated a car bomb in this intersection, only killing himself, and lightly injuring two others. In April 2017, another terrorist, also inspired by the Islamic State, drove a lorry along Drottninggatan and killed five people and injuring 14, before crashing into the Åhléns department store. The lion-shaped concrete barriers failed to stop the vehicle, and have been replaced by much heavier lions. Drottninggatan (Q2066219) on Wikidata Drottninggatan on Wikipedia
  • 53 Hötorget. Hötorget has been known as such ("The Haymarket Square") since the 17th century. Traded commodities have changed over times; today the square is known for its produce stands. The underground market hall Hötorgshallen sells Swedish and international delicacies (see Nordic cuisine). Hötorget (Q1608760) on Wikidata Hötorget on Wikipedia
  • 22 Haymarket by Scandic. The building to the west is a former department store, named PUB for its founder Paul U. Bergström; and together with other buildings nearby an example of Swedish Grace. In 1917, Vladimir Lenin passed through Stockholm on his way home to St Petersburg for the Russian Revolution, buying a new suit here. In 1920, Greta Garbo (later a Hollywood star, portrayed on the Swedish 100 kr banknote) began work here. Since 2016, the building is a hotel, with 1920s furnishing and a jazz environment restored in the lounge. Haymarket by Scandic (Q26253670) on Wikidata
  • 54 Stockholm Concert Hall (Stockholms konserthus). A Swedish Grace building opened in 1926, the home stage of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the place of the annual Nobel Prize ceremony, except the peace prize which is awarded in Oslo. The Polar Music Prize, founded in 1989 by ABBA's late manager Stig Andersson, is also awarded here, as well as the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children's literature since 2003. Stockholm Concert Hall (Q653773) on Wikidata Stockholm Concert Hall on Wikipedia
  • 60 Country of immigrants. Sweden's population was remarkably homogenous until the 1950s, when the country faced a severe labour shortage, and opened for immigration, in particular from Finland, the Balkans and Turkey. Sweden has accepted more refugees per capita than any other country in Western Europe; in particular during and after World War II, the 1990s Yugoslav Wars, and the wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Ukraine. By 2020, 19 per cent of Sweden's population is foreign-born. Newly arrived immigrants have usually been concentrated to a few suburban neighbourhoods along the metro lines, and came to dominate some businesses, including market retailing and restaurants.
Thulehuset is the building at Sveavägen 44, and the end of this tour. In the right street corner, Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated in 1986. The building has hosted Klarna and King Digital Entertainment, some of Sweden's most famous tech startups, and trendy food retailer Urban Deli has both a store and a rooftop bar.
  • 55 Olof Palme assassination scene (Skandiahuset), Sveavägen 42. On February 28, 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and his wife Lisbeth made a spontaneous plan to spend the evening at the Grand cinema with their son and his fiancée, without calling in their bodyguards. On their way home, an unknown man came up behind Palme, shot him to immediate death with a revolver, and ran away along Tunnelgatan. Palme was buried at the nearby Adolf Fredrik church, and the street nearby was renamed Olof Palmes gata to commemorate the victim. The police and the government led several failed investigations, creating a chain of top-level political scandals. As Palme was famous in international politics, outspoken against political oppression abroad and criticized at home, the suspects included South African spies, the Kurdish resistance movement, and the police themselves. In 1989, the lone criminal Christer Pettersson was found guilty by the Stockholm City court. The Svea Court of Appeal later found reasonable doubt, and acquitted him. The unsolved murder has inspired novelists and conspiracy theorists. In June 2020, the police presented a new suspect: graphic designer Stig Engström, who worked for the Skandia insurance company in the building at the murder scene, and was one of the few witnesses. As he was dead since 2000, the case is closed. Soundtrack: Fördomar by The Latin Kings. assassination of Olof Palme (Q3284177) on Wikidata Assassination of Olof Palme on Wikipedia
  • 56 Thule Data Center. A server hall opened in 2012 in a section of the Johannes bunker (the world's first nuclear-proof bomb shelter) branding itself as the most energy efficient in Sweden. Owned by Bahnhof, an Internet service provider famous in the hacker community for their stand for privacy and free information.

Epilogue: Modern landmarks[edit]

We conclude the tour in a rooftop bar, with a view of Stockholm's tallest buildings, representing different periods of Stockholm's modern development.

  • 23 Urban Deli rooftop bar, Sveavägen 44. Thulehuset is a 1942 functionalist office building. Today, it houses a Swedish "unicorns" (tech startup worth billions): payment handler Klarna; previously game developer King Digital Entertainment as well. Urban Deli is a trendy grocery and restaurant chain. Soundtrack: The Final Countdown by Europe

Opening hours of Urban Deli's rooftop bar are limited. Some alternative rooftop viewpoints are 24 Tak at Brunkebergstorg, and 25 Scandic Continental at Vasagatan.

  • 61 Adolf Fredrik's church (Adolf Fredriks kyrka), Holländargatan 16. A church named for King Adolf Fredrik (reigning 1751-1771), was built in 1768-1774. The style is Gustavian (Neoclassical) with elements of rococo. The church has a monument to the philosopher René Descartes, who spent his last years in Stockholm tutoring Queen Kristina, until dying of pneumonia. Prime Minister Olof Palme is buried in the cemetery, just south of the church building. Adolf Fredrik Church (Q360572) on Wikidata Adolf Fredrik Church on Wikipedia
  • 62 Sankt Johannes kyrka (S:t John's church). An 1890 brick church in a neo-Gothic style inspired by medieval Swedish cathedrals. It stands on Brunkebergsåsen, the north-south ridge through Stockholm. The free-standing bell tower is the only remaining wooden building of Norrmalm. Saint John's Church (Q164289) on Wikidata St. John's Church, Stockholm on Wikipedia
  • 63 Kungstornen. Swedish Grace twin towers which were Scandinavia's tallest buildings when they opened in 1924 and 1925. Inspired by Manhattan buildings, they represent the Roaring Twenties, and the southernmost remains of Brunkebergsåsen. Kungstornen (Q2688028) on Wikidata Kungstornen on Wikipedia
  • 64 Stockholm Public Library (Stadsbiblioteket), Sveavägen 73. A 1928 Swedish Grace building designed by the famous Swedish architect Erik Gunnar Asplund. The cylinder-shaped rotunda is visible from far away. Stockholm Public Library (Q1246991) on Wikidata Stockholm Public Library on Wikipedia
  • 65 Hötorget skyscrapers. The postwar economic expansion brought the 1950s and 60s redevelopment of Norrmalm, visible through the five 19-floor office buildings at Hötorget, in international style. Hötorget buildings (Q892513) on Wikidata Hötorget buildings on Wikipedia
  • 66 Kaknästornet. A brutalist TV tower from 1967. Hosted Stockholm's highest public observatory deck until closed down in 2018. Kaknästornet (Q1721899) on Wikidata Kaknästornet on Wikipedia
Northward view from Urban Deli. From left: Adolf Fredrik Church, Norra tornen, Stockholm public library, Wenner-Gren Center.
  • 67 Wenner-Gren Center. An office tower for international researchers, which was Europe's tallest steel skyscraper when finished in 1961. Wenner-Gren Center (Q178863) on Wikidata Wenner-Gren Center on Wikipedia
  • 68 Norra tornen. The "Northern Towers" are two neo-Brutalist residential skyscrapers finished in 2020. Between Wenner-Gren Center and Norra tornen, a new campus district named Hagastaden is being built during the 2020s, around the Karolinska Institute (famous for handing out the Nobel Prize for medicine), with the intention to develop Stockholm as a science cluster for the future. Norra Tornen (Q7796031) on Wikidata Norra Tornen on Wikipedia


  • 8,000 BCE: Icecap above Stockholm melts, leaving open sea behind.
  • 4,000 BCE: Hills south of today's Stockholm emerge from sea. Stone Age settlements.
  • 2,500 BCE: Södermalm's hills emerge from the sea.
  • AD 900: Height of Viking Age. Stockholm's islands are settled. First Christian missionaries arrive to Sweden.
  • 1007: Viking Chief Olaf (later Olaf II of Norway) sacks settlements at Mälaren.
  • 1187: Karelian pirates sack Sigtuna. Some years later, Tre Kronor Castle is built.
  • 1252: Birger jarl mentions Stockholm in a letter.
  • October 10, 1471: Swedish separatists defeat unionists at the battle of Brunkeberg.
  • November 7-9, 1520: Stockholm bloodbath: Kristian II of Denmark has at least 80 Swedish nobles beheaded.
  • June 24, 1523: Gustav Vasa liberates Stockholm, making Sweden independent since then.
  • August 10, 1628: Vasa sinks.
  • May 7, 1697: Tre Kronor Castle burns down, to be replaced by the Stockholm Palace.
  • March 16, 1792: Gustav III is assassinated in the Opera house.
  • June 20, 1810: Lynching of Axel von Fersen.
  • 19 March, 1848: Soldiers kill at least 18 suffrage protesters at Storkyrkobrinken.
  • 3 September, 1864: Alfred Nobel's nitroglycerin factory in Heleneborg explodes, killing six people. Two years later he invents dynamite.
  • December 10, 1901: First Nobel Prize ceremony
  • July 6, 1912: Opening of the Fifth Summer Olympics
  • 27 August, 1922: First national poll: 51% of Swedes reject prohibition of alcohol
  • October 1, 1950: First Stockholm Metro line opens, from Slussen to Hökarängen
  • June 11, 1956: Equestrian events of the XVI Summer Olympics held in Stockholm (main event held in Melbourne)
  • August 25, 1956: Vasa is re-discovered, and salvaged five years later.
  • June 29, 1958: Sweden hosts the FIFA World Cup, and the Swedish national team plays the final in Solna north of Stockholm. Brazil wins 5-2.
  • September 3, 1967: Switch to right-hand traffic
  • May 12, 1971: Elm protest in Kungsträdgården
  • August 23-28, 1973: Norrmalmstorg hostage crisis
  • February 28, 1986: Olof Palme is assassinated.
  • 1995: Sweden joins the European Union.
  • September 10, 2003: Anna Lindh is assassinated.
  • 2008: Spotify is founded. The hackers behind The Pirate Bay are prosecuted. The global financial crisis rocks Sweden.
  • April 7, 2017: A terrorist attack on Drottninggatan kills five people.

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