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Gamla Stan, literally meaning “Old Town” is the historical quarter of Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm.
Dating back to the 13th century, Gamla Stan was originally called “själva staden” which means “the city itself” and is mostly located on the island of Stadsholmen.
Gamla Stan is made up of a network of cobbled streets, North-Germanic architecture and beautiful open plazas, most notable of which is Stortorget. Stortorget was the site of the Stockholm Bloodbath, a massacre of noblemen in 1520 and the square is now home to the Stockholm Stock Exchange Building.
The old town is the site of centuries of history and contains numerous significant attractions, not least of which is Stockholm’s Saint Eric’s cathedral.
Another stunning religious site in Gamla Stan is the beautiful medieval church of Riddarholmen, one of Stockholms oldest buildings and the burial place of Swedish monarchs. Riddarholmen is near Stockholm’s famous 18th century Royal Palace.
The best way to enjoy Gamla Stan is just by walking around and exploring.
Old town of Stockholm – cobble streets, hidden squares & alleyways
Stockholm's mesmerizing and amazingly well preserved Old Town, is one of the top go-to destinations for all visitors to Sweden. Also known as Gamla Stan, this charming and well preserved first town of this magnificent city, is the finest in Europe.
There are grandiose buildings, town squares designed for meetings, sun-faded rusty-mustard coloured town houses, fascinating alleyways, and a unique cobbled street labyrinth.
Gamla Stan, The Old Town, consists primarily of the island Stadsholmen. The town dates back to the 13th century, and consists of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic architecture. North German architecture has had a strong influence in the Old Town's construction. Gamla Stan is one of the best preserved old towns in Northern Europe.
The center of Gamla Stan is Stortorget, the scenic large square, which is surrounded by old merchants' houses including the Stockholm Stock Exchange Building. The square was the site of the Stockholm Bloodbath, where Swedish noblemen were massacred by the Danish King Christian II in November, 1520. The following revolt and civil war led to the dissolution of the Kalmar Union and the subsequent election of King Gustav I.
As well as being home to the Stockholm Cathedral, the Nobel Museum, and the Riddarholm church, Gamla stan also boasts Kungliga slottet, Sweden's baroque Royal Palace, built in the 18th century after the previous palace Tre Kronor burned down. The House of Nobility (Riddarhuset) is on the north-western corner of Gamla stan. The restaurant Den gyldene freden is located on Österlånggatan. It has been in business since 1722 and according to the Guinness Book of Records is the oldest existing restaurant with an unaltered interior. A statue of St. George and the Dragon (sculpted by Bernt Notke) can be found in the Stockholm Cathedral, while Riddarholmskyrkan is the royal burial church. Bollhustäppan, a small courtyard at Slottsbacken behind Finska kyrkan, just south of the main approach to the Royal Palace, is home to one of the smallest statues in Sweden, a little boy in wrought iron. The plaque just below the statue says its name Järnpojken ("The Iron Boy"). It was created by Liss Eriksson in 1919.
From the mid 19th to the mid 20th century Gamla stan was considered a slum, many of its historical buildings left in disrepair, and just after World War 2, several blocks together five alleys were demolished for the enlargement of the Parliament. From the 1980s, however, it has become a tourist attraction as the charm of its medieval, Renaissance architecture and later additions have been valued by later generations.
History of Stockholm: Gamla Stan (Part1)
Stockholm also called the town between the bridges. Experiencing medieval Stockholm by wandering trough the cobblestoned allies of Gamla Stan, feels somehow like stepping back in time.
It’s impossible to imagine that this beautiful Unique and charming Old Town was once a district characterised by vice, babaric murders, unbelievable misery and trash.
Let me take you on a journey back in time to the 13 century when this beautiful town was founded. Stockholm was first mentioned as a town in 1252 and was largely built by the Swedish ruler Birger Jarl.
It grew very fast as a result of a trade agreement made with the German city of Lübeck. This agreement ensured Lübeck merchants freedom from customs charges for their trade in Sweden, as well as the right to settle there.
Birger Jarl has built city wall and fortifications around gamla Stan to look the entrance of Lake Mälaren.
The city came to be officially regarded as the Swedish capital in 1436. After conflicts between the Danes and Swedes for many years, Stockholm was liberated from Danish rule by Gustav I Vasa in 1523.
From then on the Gamla Stan frotress was Gustav Vasa’s royal residence. Huge extensions and expensive renovations were carried out during the period that he and subsequently his son Johan the 3rd were in power.
Part 2 will follow soon… If you would like to read another Blog Post – Klick here – Topic: Stockholm Hidden Gems | 4 Photo Shoot Location Ideas Stockholm
Gamla Stan Walking Tour – An Authentic Experience
Our Gamla Stan walking tour is without a doubt an authentic experience that takes you back in history. Close your eyes and imagine you are a time traveller ready to go back many centuries. When you wake up, it is 1252. This is Stockholm’s birth year. Going on this walking tour of Gamla Stan, you are in for a real treat. Not only is the old town a mesmerising place full of ancient stories, but it has also plenty of charm. For instance, cute alleyways, colourful houses and quaint squares. It is also the location where the changing of the guards happens every day at the Royal Palace. Also, the amazing restaurants will tickle your taste buds too. The world’s 2nd oldest restaurant is located in Gamla Stan.
In contrast to other tours, we scratch more than just the surface. For example, you hear stories of executioners, age-old rune stones, fountains and the connection between the old town and Flanders in Belgium to name a few. Gamla Stan is a place full of mystery, so welcome to the very heart of this extraordinary city.
Walking along the Swedish Parliament on a tour of Gamla Stan
On the whole, the development of Stockholm coincides with the development of Gamla Stan. Although spread over 14 islands, the old town is the very core of the city. It was found in 1252 by statesman Birger Jarl, to protect Sweden from invasions. Once a small settlement enclosed by city walls, Stockholm has grown immensely. Today, it is not only the most populous urban area in Scandinavia, but it is also the cultural, political and media centre of Sweden. Just like other big cities, Stockholm has a large population. There are about 1 million people in the city and around 1.6 million in the eleven municipalities. Moreover, Gamla Stan has approximately 3000 residents.
About this tour
Our Gamla Stan walking tour starts at Gustav Adolfs Torg at the opera house. Not only do you get a pretty view, but you will also understand why the old town used to be called ‘City between Bridges.’ Following a brief introduction and what to expect, we start our discovery tour of this unique place. Unlike other cities with an old town, Gamla Stan exists of 4 islands. First, there is Riddarholmen. Second, you have Helgeandsholmen. Third, you get Str?msborg and last but not least there is Stadsholmen. The latter is without a doubt the island that everyone considers as Gamla Stan. On our walking tour, you discover all islands and what makes them unique. This is without a doubt the most complete tour of this area.
Walking tour along Pr?stgatan in Gamla Stan
On the whole, you spend the most time on the island of Stadsholmen. It houses for example the Royal Palace and the Nobel Museum. Moreover, it is also the place where the Stockholm bloodbath took place. Furthermore, there are some quaint streets, charming squares and little details that give awesome stories. We make our way through the labyrinth of alleyways as we go back in time. This tour is particularly of interest if you like history and want to dig just a little bit deeper. Along with the more obvious sights, you learn about the history of the street names, the importance of certain squares, why some areas were avoided in the Middle Ages, and the co-existence of Swedes and Germans. This tour finishes with a traditional Swedish Fika (hot drink and a cinnamon bun). This is without a doubt the most Swedish habit you can do after your walk.
Old Town Walking Tour – ?What to expect
Our walking tour in Gamla Stan passes by Stockholm’s smallest street
- Time: Daily at 10 am, 1.30 pm and 4 pm
- Meeting Point: Gustav Adolfs Torg (in front of the Opera House)
- Duration: 2 – 2.5 hours (therefore, make sure you bring comfy shoes)
- Distance: 2-5 km
- Book latest 48 hours in advance
- Allergies / Intolerances (for the Swedish Fika): Please get in touch if you have special requirements
- Min. 4 participants
- Max. 15 participants
- Adults only (18+)
- Walking tour
- Gamla Stan Landmarks and Must-sees
- Hidden Gems
- Photo Opportunities
- A traditional Swedish Fika (hot drink and cinnamon bun)
- Happy Memories
Private Bookings, Enquiries and Contact Details
It is possible to book a private tour for this Gamla Stan walking tour. If you are a group of friends or a family with children, it a great solution. Especially if you do not want other guests on your tour. Moreover, it is also an option if there are not enough participants. In that case, you can also book a private tour. Just click Book a Private Tour’ upon checkout. An additional charge per person applies. For any questions that relate to this tour, please call us on +44 (0) 7783 152151 or fill out our contact form. We reply as soon as possible.
Gamla Stan - History
Situated on a small island in the heart of Stockholm, Gamla Stan, or Old Town, is a maze of medieval streets. Gamla Stan is crammed with historic attractions, including Stockholm's cathedral and the royal palace.
| ||A couple sits along Gamla Stan's southern waterfront.|| ||A view of an old palace from the waterfront.|
| ||Stortorget, Gamla Stan's main plaza, is home to charming cafes and the Nobel Museum.|| ||A creative way to advertise cruises around the Stockholm Archipelago.|
| ||Andy waits for his coffee.|| ||Susanne's enjoying herself at Chokladkoppen Cafe.|
| ||Check out the enormous bowl of coffee.|| ||Peppered with cinnamon and cardamom, it's a taste that truly sa-tis-fies.|
| ||Lounging in the sun.|| ||A statue mime prepares to perform.|
| ||The clocktower of Storkyrkan, Stockholm's cathedral.|| ||The main aisle of the cathedral.|
| ||A giant candelabra with the main stained glass window in the background.|| ||Hordes of tourists explore the cathedral.|
| || ||St. George and the dragon.|
| ||Detail of the pipe organ.|| ||Enormous paintings adorn the walls of the cathedral, the oldest building in the city.|
| ||The plaza behind the cathedral.|| ||The 10am changing of the guard in front of Kungliga Slottet, the royal palace.|
| || |
| || ||Andy reads about the palace in his guide book.|
| ||A view of the cathedral from the entrance to the palace.|| ||Main entrance to the palace.|
| ||Standing guard at the palace gate. None shall pass -- at least not without paying for your ticket first.|| |
| ||Entrance to the royal treasury, along the side of the palace.|| ||Walking a dog along the treasury plaza.|
| ||Standing guard over the treasury, threatened by tourists from every corner of the globe.|| ||The cathedral and treasury from along the waterfront.|
| ||Susanne poses behind the palace near the waterfront.|| ||A view of the western waterfront, behind the royal palace.|
| || ||A father and son get a balloon.|
| || ||Views of the island of Ostermalm from Gamla Stan harbor.|
| ||A giant stone gate marks the entrance to parliament.|| ||A view to the west of Gamla Stan, photographed from the parliament bridge to Norrmalm.|
| ||Windows of a typical Gamla Stan building.|| ||View of the Knight's Garden.|
| ||Knight's church, the final resting place of Swedish royalty.|| ||Another view of the church.|
| ||Yet another view.|| ||Stromkajen ferry terminal, to the northeast of Gamla Stan.|
| ||A view of the cathedral from the direction of Stortorget.|| ||St. George slays the dragon in a small plaza.|
| ||Susanne wanders down a quiet side street.|| ||Another visit to the cafes of Stortorget.|
| ||Susanne and Andy enjoying generous bowls of cafe au lait.|| |
| ||Gamla Stan's ferry fleet.|| ||A replica of a Viking ship sits along the waterfront.|
This page created on a Macintosh using PhotoPage by John A. Vink.
A Walking Tour of Architecture in Gamla Stan, Stockholm
Stockholm‘s Gamla Stan is where Stockholm began, back in 1252, and it’s one of the biggest and best preserved medieval Old Towns in all of Europe.
The history of Gamla Stan is as fascinating as you’d think: until the 13th century Stockholm wasn’t even the capital of Sweden – that honour went to nearby Sigtuna. When warfare weakened Sigtuna, the government needed to find a new home. Until the 19th century Gamla Stan was called Staden (The Town), mainly because there was little more to Stockholm proper than this small island, with the surrounding islands called malmarna (ridges). In fact, it wasn’t until 1980 that Gamla Stan became the official name – before then it was called ‘Staden mellan broarna‘, or ‘Town Between the Bridges’.
The architecture of Gamla Stan, which has a strong north German influence, is remarkably well-preserved, which is somewhat surprising when one considers that this was once a rough-and-tumble slum area prone to marauding gangs visiting violence on the city. It was overcrowded and disease-ridden up until the early 20th century, and it wasn’t until the early 1980s that it became a tourist attraction. Post-World War II part of the area was demolished to make way for an enlarged parliament, and just 370 structures remain today.
The Royal Palace is the main attraction in Gamla Stan, although the current one is not the original. Excavations in the late 1970s revealed traces of timber dating back to the 10th century. The beginnings of the one we know today, which is one of the largest in Europe, dates back to the 13th century and it was in the mid-16th century that it became the principle royal residence. Dutch architect Willem Boy was the main brain behind turning the medieval fortress into a Renaissance Palace, while palace architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger oversaw the work from 1692.
Close to the Royal Palace you’ll find Storkyrkan (Stockholm Cathedral). Built in the 13th century in the Gothic style, it was remodelled in the Baroque style around in the mid-1700s. Storkyrkan is the oldest church in Gamla Stan and is the seat of the Church of Sweden and the Bishop of Stockholm. Here you’ll find the oldest known image of Stockholm, Vädersolstavlan (The Sun Dog Painting), which dates back to 1636. Storkyrkan is where royal events, such as marriages, are held, as well as major state events.
Stockholm Cathedral might be where the royals go to get married but Riddarholmen Church far outweighs it in the looks department. It’s the only remaining medieval abbey in the city and one of the oldest buildings in Stockholm parts of it dating back to the century, when it was a monastery. It was once the burial church of the Swedish monarchy, with royals of note Gustav II Adolf and Karl XII taking up places of honour. Architect Willem Boy designed the original spire, which was destroyed in 1835, and replaced with the present cast iron spire, which forms part of one of the most iconic images of Stockholm.
The restaurant Den Gyldene Freden (The Golden Peace) has been operating since 1722 and is the oldest existing restaurant in the world with an original interior. It is also one of the best examples of an 18th-century tavern and has been doing a booming business since its doors opened, with beloved Swedish troubadour Carl Bellman having lived there early on.
Börshuset (The Stock Exchange Building) was the original stock exchange building, built between 1773 and 1778 from construction drawings by Erik Palmstedt. Since 1914 it has been the home of the Swedish Academy, which uses the building for meetings and to decide on the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. This is also where you’ll find the Nobel Museum and the Nobel Library.
While many of the buildings in Gamla Stan have not been well-documented, as they were considered housing for the poor and little attention was paid to them over the centuries, the area is a magical place to wander. Nearly all the structures date back hundreds of years and as you wander through the alleyways you’ll feel as if you’ve gone back in time.
Use our handy map to find your way through the architecture of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan:
Old Town (Gamla Stan) Walk (Self Guided), Stockholm
The Museum of Medieval Stockholm (Stockholms Medeltidsmuseum) is a distinctive gallery with an exceptional story. Centrally located north of the Royal Palace, it came to be thanks to the wealth of discoveries unearthed during an extensive archaeological dig (dubbed Riksgropen, "National/State Pit" because of its depth and magnitude, involving over 50,000 meters of soil) in 1978-80. In order to make the finds accessible to the general public, a planned subterranean garage on the site gave way to the museum, inaugurated in 1986. This state-of-the-art facility, designed by artist Kerstin Rydh, received both national and international acclaim and won the European Museum of the Year Award in 1986.
The museum enables visitors to experience medieval Stockholm. The exhibit contains over 850 objects and artifacts – brick houses and booths, workshops, harbour, and gallows – mapping out the history of the Old Town area all the way back between the 1250s and the 1520s. Part of the exhibit consists of the Town Wall built in the 1530s by Gustavus Vasa. In 2010, to celebrate 800 years since the birth of Birger Jarl, founder of Stockholm, the museum opened an exhibition with a reconstruction of his face.
The Museum of Medieval Stockholm produces theme exhibitions with a medieval emphasis and arranges lectures, symposia and programmes. It engages in broad educational activities, in which children, youth and schools are a key target group. The museum has a shop that sells books relating to the Middle Ages, as well as postcards and jewelry.
Why You Should Visit:
Engaging exhibits and preserved archaeological remains – you can almost “smell” the old times!
Much larger on the inside than it appears displays are described in both Swedish and English.
Kids would really love this – there are a number of exhibits designed specifically for them.
For a minimal fee, the museum offers multilingual audio tours in English, German and French.
Tue, Thu-Sun: 12-5pm Wed: 12-8pm Free admission
Free guided tours in English: Tue-Sun: 2-2:30pm (Jul-Aug)
2) Royal Palace (must see)
Home of the Swedish Monarchy, the Stockholm Palace is a ceremonial and formal residence of the Royal family (the actual residence is at Drottningholm Palace). This is where Sweden's King performs his mandated duties as the Head of State. The palace is flanked by other stately buildings, such as the Parliament building which commands attention worthy of the government.
The original building on this site was a fortress back in the 15th century. Under the 16th century rule of King John III, the fortress was transformed into a luxurious Baroque palace designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, who was also the designer of Tessin Palace. Visitors to the palace are greeted by the Högvakten, the Swedish Royal Guard, whose history reaches back to the medieval Sweden and adds much intrigue of this majestic structure. Shaded by an exquisite copper roof, the brick edifice with sandstone facades boasts 660 windows, over 1400 rooms, several lush courtyards and is said to be one of the largest in the world.
It's always good to go on a tour for a more personalized experience, but the rooms are well marked in English.
The treasury room, with all the regalia, would justify taking the tour as you actually get to learn about what you're looking at.
3) Stockholm Cathedral (must see)
Stockholm Cathedral, otherwise known as the Church of St. Nicholas or the Great Church, is a brick Gothic-style structure in the heart of Stockholm that is said to have been built by the city's founding father, Birger Jarl. The church served the Roman Catholic community until 1527, upon which it was converted to Lutheran Protestant. Late into the Middle Ages, it was once again retaken by Roman Catholics and, to this day, remains under the governance of the Archdiocese of Stockholm. The cathedral has been the preferred site for many ceremonies and celebrations in Sweden, including royal weddings, funeral services, and coronations.
Visitors to the place will want to see the large wooden statue of Saint George and the Dragon, which was carved in the 15th century. The statue is also a reliquary and, today, contains relics of the favored local saints. The pulpit was carved by Burchard Precht and is an excellent example of French Baroque style. The front of the pulpit portrays the biblical story of Matthew 15:21-28, the Canaanite woman while the door of the pulpit displays a superb depiction of the head of Jesus Christ. The church is lined by special royal pews, which are adorned in blue velvet embroidered upholstery.
Why You Should Visit:
Architecturally interesting, culturally enriching, and very peaceful.
Check for free organ recitals (usually at noon) and other events.
Make sure to pick up a brochure as it is very helpful in explaining several main focuses within the cathedral.
Daily: 9am-4pm extended hours on weekdays until 5pm in June-July and 6pm in August
4) Nobel Prize Museum (must see)
If you keen on learning about Alfred Nobel (1833–1896), a brilliant scientist whose interest in peace-keeping is world renowned, as well as the Nobel Prize and Nobel prizewinners, make sure to visit the Nobel Prize Museum, formerly the Nobel Museum (Nobelmuseet). The museum opened in spring of 2001, marking the centenary of the Nobel Prize. Its permanent display includes many artifacts donated by the laureates, presented together with their personal life stories, beginning with the Nobel Laureates of 1901 and continuing to the present day ones, including prominent individuals such as Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela, and Winston Churchill.
The museum celebrates the accomplishments and the memory of the Nobel Laureates with an immense range of exhibitions, films, and science-related productions. The Cultures of Creativity Exhibit takes visitors on an excursion through the process of selecting a Nobel Prize winner from the appointment to the actual banquet.
No such banquet is complete without a sample of the famous Nobel ice cream which is served each year at the awards ceremony. Discover each and every one of the 840 Nobel Laureates and what they have contributed to the society. Multilingual tours, including English, are offered on a daily basis. The museum also hosts numerous public events, conferences and workshops, and will work with guests to accommodate their needs.
For visitors who want to bring a piece of the museum home, a souvenir shop is available. One of the most popular items here is Alfred Nobel's gold medal made in dark fair trade chocolate. Another one is the Swedish “dynamite” candy flavored with jalapeño pepper, plus a lot of educational toys for kids, books by and about Nobel Prize laureates, and other unique items found nowhere else but here.
There is also Bistro Nobel featuring Nobel chocolate, Swedish cakes, as well as full lunch and dinner. At the bistro, they also serve the unique Nobel ice cream, plus the Nobel tea usually served at the annual Nobel banquet.
Join the English tour to get the most out of your visit.
Tue-Thu: 11am-5pm Fri: 11am-8pm (Sep-May) Daily: 9am-8pm (Jun-Aug, except Jun 21-22 – closed)
Fri: 5-8pm (Sep-May) Stockholm Pass, Stockholm Key of Honour, ICOM, AAM, SMI, WFTGA
Daily English tours (including the Martin Luther King Jr tour):
Tue-Fri: 11:15am, 1:15pm, 3:15pm, 4pm (MLK) Sat-Sun: 10:15am, 11:15am, 12:15pm, 1:15pm, 3:15pm, 4pm (MLK)
5) Stortorget (Grand Square) (must see)
Stortorget ("Grand Square") in Gamla Stan was never a stylish show-piece similar to the ones found in the heart of many other European cities during the Middle Ages. It was created gradually, with buildings and blocks surrounding the square, still sloping west, occasionally added haphazardly. The city's oldest square, Stortorget is an artistic and shopping hub, traditionally renowned for its annual Christmas market offering incredible performances, unique traditional handicrafts and sumptuous culinary delights.
It is also the location of the Stock Exchange Building (Börshuset), home to the Swedish Academy, the Nobel Museum, and the Nobel Library, designed by Erik Palmstedt and built in 1773–1776. The nearby well, also designed by Palmstedt, dried up in 1856 due to land elevation, and was relocated to Brunkebergstorg, but then moved back to the original location in the 1950s, connected to the city water conduit ever since.
Stortorget sits at the highest point in Stockholm and presents a carefully restored rendition of the historical buildings, known only by their addresses. Among them are Stortorget No. 3 constructed in the 1640s, commonly known as Grillska Huset (Grill House). The nearby building No. 5 was another real estate of Antoni Grill, after whom the Grill House is named. The buildings at No. 18–20 were merged into one in the 17th century and named for Johan Eberhard Schantz. Stortorget had a violent history, as it once was the location of the Stockholm Bloodbath, which took place in 1520 and resulted in the beheadings of over 80 noblemen. Their bodies were left there to bleed out, leaving pools of blood running throughout the town, a ghoulish message to the Danish King’s opposition.
Stortorget No. 22, on the left side of the square, was built in 1758 and is easily identified by its green color. It was once occupied by the Saxon Polycarpus Crumbügel, who was one of the closest friends of King Charles XI. The antique cobble stones of Stortorget make you feel like stepping back into the times of Old Sweden, with the pastel buildings mimicking the colors commonplace in those days.
Why You Should Visit:
The Old Town (Gamla stan) is by far the most picturesque area in Stockholm, and while this square seems unpretentious at first sight, it has a unique ambiance.
Make sure to stand in the middle and look all around you.
Köpmanbrinken ("Merchant's Slope") is a historic street composed of two slopes. The northern slope has been commonly referred to as Fiskestrandsbrinken ("Fishing Shore Slope"). Back in the Middle Ages, up until 1520, the area east of the slopes, between the alleys Nygränd and Brunnsgränd, used to be the major fish market, Fiskaretorget. Since the foundation of Stockholm, the slopes have reflected the original inclination treadled by the city's first inhabitants.
Walking along the street, visitors will find some of the most famous icons, like the replicated statue of Saint George and the Dragon, the medieval original of which is found at the Storkyrkan Cathedral. This bronze replica was cast in 1912 by Otto Meyer. Saint George is depicted as a young man in his battle armor with the lance impaling the dragon. In contrast to the Storkyrkan original, several parts of the statue have been altered, like the knight's helmet and the dragon positioned differently. Saint George sits atop a life-sized horse with the dragon’s legs pushing into the horse’s stomach. The plinth is embellished with reliefs of the martyrdom of the brave saint. The original piece was commissioned by the Swedish Viceroy, Sten Sture, in 1489.
Back in the day, on the narrow space along the slopes' eastern sides, where the Saint George statue is found today, there was an entire block, called Acteon, which collapsed in 1829. Following the collapse, the slopes were made less steep and, during the 19th century, were regarded as two individual streets, separated by Köpmantorget square. The two streets were subsequently united into one, with its present name, in 1885.
For many centuries Österlånggatan has been one of the key thoroughfares in Stockholm. Back in the 1300s, the street used to reach outside the city walls and was filled with woodwork and blacksmith workshops supporting the local shipping industry. The shore line was eventually pushed eastward by land fillings of gravel and rubbish, so by the 14th century the street had become the 'long street east of the wall' (i.e. Österlånggatan), far from the water, paved and lined with shops and homes.
The shipping trade gradually disappeared and by the early 20th century virtually everything associated with it on Österlånggatan was gone. In sharp contrast to its old days as the backyard of the dock district, crowded with sailors, taverns, travellers, and traders, in the 1980s, the street had gradually transformed into a relatively quiet area, notwithstanding the many restaurants and shops attracting tourists. Historic buildings like the Royal Coin Cabinet, the Stockholm Concert Hall and the Stockholm School of Economics are all located along Österlånggatan. The famous statue of Saint George and the Dragon is also found here, at Köpmanbrinken (the Merchant’s Slope).
Many a tavern, popular with the business crowd, lined the street in the 17th century. Among them Riga at Number 19, Holländska Dyn ("Dutch Slough") at Number 21, Förgylda Draken ("Gilded Dragon") at Number 27, Tre Kungar ("Three Kings") at Number 28, Sveriges Wapen ("Swedish Arms") at Number 29, and Stjärnan ("The Star") in the Rococo building at Number 45. Of all these taverns, only Den Gyldene Freden ("The Golden Peace") at Number 51 has survived. Established in 1722, it is mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as one of the oldest eateries with unaltered interior, which can hardly give a hint of the filth, stench, rows, and misery once hidden behind its romantic name.
The street was particularly loved by German immigrant merchants and was considered a middle class area up until the 1800s. It is crossed by several alleys, each of which has a unique name, usually associated with the buildings therein. Archaeological excavations in the late 1970s revealed the original beaten track, some three meters below today's pavement, along with the bricked walls that once surrounded the city in the Middle Ages. A good place to explore the historic part of the Swedish capital!
Freden (“Peace”), as it's known locally, received its name from the Peace of Nystad (1721) by which Russia gained control over a hefty chunk of the Swedish territory, but strangely enough and luckily so (hence the Gyldene "golden"), allowed Sweden to keep Finland. One of Sweden's best-known eateries, this is the second oldest restaurant in the world to have retained its original interior, unchanged since the day it opened in 1722, thus making a unique example of an 18th-century tavern and a well-deserved entry to the Guinness Book of Records.
Throughout centuries, Freden has been a central gathering spot for many Sweden's noted authors, painters and songwriters. Anders Zorn bought the place in 1919, effectively saving it from closure. The house in which Freden is located is now owned and secured for posterity by the Swedish Academy. Each Thursday, the Academy (which nominate the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature) convene here for their weekly dinner. The restaurant initially gained its reputation and fame through the songs written by national poet, Carl Michael Bellman (1740–1795), and more recently by the singer-songwriter, Cornelis Vreeswijk (1937–1987).
Mårten Trotzigs Gränd (“the Alley of Mårten Trotzig”) is named after the merchant and burgher Mårten Trotzig (1559–1617), who immigrated from Wittenberg, Germany to Stockholm in 1581, and eventually became one of the city's richest and most influential merchants. He traded in metals – copper and iron – and bought up properties in the alley in 1597 and 1599, also opening a shop here, thus lending his name to the place. Trotzig met his demise in 1617 when beaten to death during a trip to Kopparberg.
Unique to the area, the alley is known to be the narrowest one, measuring at its smallest part only 90 centimeters in width. Possibly referred to as Trångsund ("Narrow strait") before Mårten Trotzig gave his name to it, the alley was mentioned in 1544 as Tronge trappe grenden ("Narrow Alley Stairs"). It has 36 steps narrowing towards the top, which can be somewhat visually intimidating as the narrowing is very apparent with each step taken upwards.
In 1608, the alley was referred to as Trappegrenden ("The Stairs Alley"), but a map dated 1733 calls it Trotz gr[änd], a name which, using various alternative spellings, was to remain in use, save for an attempt in the late-18th century to inexplicably rename it Kungsgränden ("The Kings Alley"). The alley was closed off in the mid-19th century, not to be reopened until 1945. Its present name was officially sanctioned by the city in 1949.
The German Church – also known as Tyska Kyrkan or St. Gertrude’s Church – is yet another attraction found in Gamla Stan. Back in the Middle Ages, it served a local German community, hence the name, and was built in honor of Saint Gertrude, the patron saint of all travelers. Several famed architects were involved in its design and construction. During the 17th century, the church became a major epicenter for church music in Sweden.
The massive, Baroque-style brick structure boasts a large steeple, which can be seen from several blocks away, along with the impressive copper-covered spire and Neogothic gargoyles perched on the top, overlooking the town. Large windows adorn the building, allowing much light into the interior during the day. The ceiling is adorned with an intricate painting by David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, who was once a member of the church community. The gilded face of Saint Gertrude decorates the northern gate, while the southern portal is bordered by the statues of Jesus and Moses.
Check the schedule – you may be able to catch a musical performance.
Visitors can hear the carillon every day, at 8am and 4pm.
If timing allows, you may see the inside with good lighting and be treated to the spectacular stained glass scenes.
Daily: 10:30am-4:30pm (Jun 15-Aug 15) 11am-3pm (May 15-Jun 15, Aug 15-Sep 15) Wed, Fri, Sat: 11am-3pm, Sun: 12:30-3pm (Sep 15-May 15)
This street dates back to the medieval times when it was known as Tverru Gatu ("Cross Street") passing between the eastern city gate (where Köpmantorget is currently located) and where one of the western gates once stood, at which point the street changes name to Tyska Brinken.
There are many historic buildings to be found in Kindstugatan. One of them is the 17th century gray building at Number 4, known as Törnska huset (The Törne House), with two portals the lintel on the left dating from the 17th century, while the lower parts are from the 19th century. The right one, now transformed into a window, used to be the entrance to the backyard. The cartouche on the building is carrying the message “Then Gudh wil hielpa kan ingen stielpa, Anno 1674, Olof Hansson Törne, Margareta Andersen”, which means "God helps those who let Him". The proprietor Törne made his fortune from scratch, became a city mayor, and was finally raised to peerage as Törnflycht. His thirteen children further extended his success story his sons relieved him as a mayor, became county governors, and even governor general, while his daughter Christina (1673–1752) became the wife of Carl Piper (1647–1716).
The wall anchors at Number 8 reveal the building from 1657 which used to be occupied by medical doctor and personal physician to Swedish Queen Ulrika Eleonora the Elder, Johan von Hoorn (1662–1724). The latter introduced obstetrics to Sweden and published The Well-Trained Swedish Midwife (Den Swenska wäl-öfwade JordGumman) book in 1697 thus pioneering the development which by the early 20th century had made maternal mortality in Sweden a third of that in the U.S. Other famous residents here included surgeon Henrik Quant and several pharmacists.
The rose-coloured building at Number 14 is known for being the tavern Fimmelstången (The Thill, “wagon shaft”) were the renowned Swedish poet Lasse Lucidor (1638–1674) was stabbed to death in a fight. While Lucidor also wrote hymns and spiritual songs and renewed the genre, he is mostly remembered for his realistic portrayals of inebriety and his famous poem Skulle Jag sörja då vore jag tokot ("I would be a fool to grieve").
The variety of architectural styles seen in the street include Rococo, Baroque and Renaissance design. The cobble stones are well preserved and the landscaping is lush and green.
Today renowned as one of Gamla Stan's most picturesque and busiest tourist magnets, Västerlånggatan was for many centuries one of the main streets in Stockholm, together with Österlånggatan, both running outside the city walls. During the 15th century, they were collectively called Allmänningsgatan ("The Common Street") or Långa gatan ("The long street"). The current name Västerlånggatan ("the Western Long Street") was officially coined in 1885.
Originally, the street was little more than a pathway following the shoreline, linking the northern city gate, Norrbro, with the southern, Söderbro. In the 15th century, it became a high-traffic paved artery road with dwellings and shops on both sides. During the Middle Ages and the Vasa era, the southern part of the street formed part of the district centered on Järntorget, inhabited by influential merchants. Along the rest of the street, craftsmen had their small workshops, and the northernmost section, stretching between Mynttorget and Storkyrkobrinken, was called Stadssmedjegatan ("City's Smith's Street"), because the blacksmiths and coppersmiths had their shops here, confined outside the city limits due to the risk of fire. In the 17th century, this section was inhabited by goldsmiths which added to its prestige.
Starting the mid 19th century, the medieval street facades were transformed to the taste of the day plaster ornaments and cast iron colonettes mail-ordered from Germany replaced the medieval fronts, resulting in the large shop windows usually displaying some well-preserved interiors.
Throughout the second half of the 20th century, the street scene began to change amid revitalization in its business district, seeing hotels, high-end businesses and restaurants moving in and many old shops, after more than 250 years in business, moving out, forced to relocate or shut down by soaring rents, subsequently replaced by more or less fitting successors marketing tourist-oriented gewgaws.
Today, Swedes and tourists alike love to mingle among the local boutiques, medieval gables and later additions, the street thus preserving its old ways — offering its musicians to Stockholmers hurrying to work in the morning blustering pub-crawlers still vexing stoic dwellers, and the old forged iron signs continuing to ignore the neon signs still tempting passers-by with all sorts of gadgets.
The historic Riddarholm Church dates back all the way to the 13th century. Originally, it was built with two naves but, by the 1400s, one additional nave was added. This church facility represents the last abbey left in Stockholm and is a product of the Protestant Reformation in Sweden.
The place itself has been used as a funeral and memorial church since 1807 and is known for being the final resting place of many Swedish Royal family members. In fact, several chapels here are dedicated to the various kings of Sweden, whose remains rest within. In the chapel of Gustavus Adolphus Magnus lie the bones of Gustav II in a large marble sarcophagus, while the lower crypt holds the bodies of his decedents. The Karolinska Chapel was built in the 17th century and Karl XII is buried beneath a black marble sarcophagus along with his family, while the Bernadotte Chapel honors Karl XIV Johan. The Royal Graveyard at Haga holds remains of other members of the Royal family, while the Haga Wall displays the elaborate shields of the Royal Family members buried in the graveyard.
Why You Should Visit:
Interesting spire and external architecture – the history of Royal Sweden in this one building.
Try to catch a guided tour (included in the entry fee) which lasts
45 mins but makes the visit a lot more informative.
Daily: 10am-4pm (Oct-Apr) 10am-5pm (May-Sep)
Wrangel Palace (Wrangelska palatset) is a historic townhouse mansion on Riddarholmen islet in Gamla Stan. Steeped in history, this building was constructed for Count Carl Gustaf Wrangel, and features a combination of architectural styles.
Its southern tower used to be part of the Gustav Vasa defence fortifications dating from the 1530s. Around 1630, the mansion was turned into a palace for Lars Sparre. In between 1652-1670, it was rebuilt and expanded by architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder, author of many buildings in the Old Town of Stockholm, for Count Carl Gustaf Wrangel. In 1693, a fire broke out and the palace was rebuilt and expanded again, this time to accommodate the royal family after another fire left the Tre Kronor Castle in ruins in 1697.
Following that, Wrangel Palace remained the official Stockholm royal residence until 1754, when the Royal Palace of Stockholm was completed. During that period, it was called Kungshuset (The Kings House). From 1756 to 1928, the palace had housed Svea Hovrätt (the Court of Appeal) and Statskontoret (the State Office). In 1802, after yet another devastating fire, the palace underwent further reconstruction, led by architect C.G. Gjörwell.
Today, its walls are lavishly decorated with paintings of the royal family and their court which accentuates the regal status of the place. When in Stockholm, you may want to spend a few hours exploring this palace.
As of 2003, the House of Nobility (Riddarhuset) has been a private institution which maintains records and acts as an interest group on behalf of the Swedish nobles. Following 1866, when the old Parliament of the Estates was replaced by the then newly established Parliament of Sweden, it has been regulated by the Swedish government. This quasi-official representative body is also authorized to dole out noble titles, such as count, baron, esquire or knight.
Its name literally translates to “the house of knights”, as knights (riddare) belong to the higher ranks of the Swedish nobility, sometimes at par with counts (greve) or barons (friherre). This tradition dates back to the Middle Ages when Sweden, under the Kalmar Union, had only one knight, Sten Sture. All esquires in the country are also represented here most of them being the so-called “untitled” (obetitlad adel).
The building itself was constructed in the mid 1600s, designed by French-born architect, Simon de la Vallée, who started the planning, but was killed by a Swedish nobleman in 1642. The construction was finished by his son, Jean de la Vallée, in 1660.
Throughout the centuries, the building has served multiple purposes. Between the 17th and the 19th century it was a chamber in the Riksdag of the Estates, the Swedish equivalent to the British House of Lords. In the 18th century, it often hosted public concerts, as well as parliament meetings and those of the Academies of Sciences and Literature.
The coats of arms of Swedish noble families are vividly displayed throughout the building. The ceiling is emblazoned with the allegorical painting of Mother Svea by David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl.
The south end of the building features Latin inscription CLARIS MAIORUM EXEMPLIS, along with a statue of Gustav Vasa.
Arguably, the most prominent monument of the Swedish Empire (1611–1718) era, the Bonde Palace (Bondeska palatset) was originally designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder and Jean De la Vallée in 1662-1667 as the private residence for the Lord High Treasurer, Gustaf Bonde. In the 18th century it accommodated the Stockholm Court House and since 1949 has housed the Swedish Supreme Court.
The original design by Simon de la Vallée and Tessin the Younger, was based on French Baroque and Renaissance prototypes commonplace in the 17th century, featuring H-shaped plan with two southern wings flanking the main court, and northern wings surrounding a small Baroque garden. It also had an exquisite, tall, steep-pitched, copper-dressed roof covering the central building surrounded by cupolas of the corner pavilions, with facades decorated with massive Ionic pilasters, festoons and portraits of Roman Emperors dotting the walls.
Following the devastating fire of the royal palace Tre Kronor in 1697, the Royal Library and the Svea Court of Appeal were lodged in the Bonde palace. Its original elaborated roof was destroyed by fire in 1710, while the original cupolas survived. In 1730, the palace was finally bought by the city as the seat for the Town Hall.
In this capacity, the palace commenced its central role in the Swedish legal history by witnessing several dramatic events, such as the public flogging of the regicide Jacob Johan Anckarström on April 27, 1792, and the mob beating, kicking, and trampling the statesman Axel von Fersen the Younger to death in 1810.
During the 19th century, the building gradually failed to accommodate the court house, fell into decay and by 1920 had found itself on the brink of demolition. However, in 1925 it was restored. In the 1940s, the building underwent further comprehensive restoration, followed by series of others in 1986 and 2003–2004, carefully recreating its 17th-18th century look using the original materials and craftsmanship to the maximum. Today, the building is classified as a historical monument of national interest and maintained by the Swedish National Property Board (Statens Fastighetsverk).
The Parliament House (Riksdagshuset) is the seat of the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag. Even though the building is more modern compared to some of the nearby structures, the influence of the local Baroque Revival and Renaissance style is evident in its centered facade section and throughout the structure. Built between 1897 and 1905, the complex was designed by Aron Johansson with the only stipulation made to him that it should not outshine the Royal Palace.
The two buildings of the complex were originally intended to house the Riksdag in one, and the Sveriges Riksbank (Swedish National Bank) in the other, of a semicircular shape. However, after the bicameral Riksdag was replaced by a unicameral legislature in 1971, and the bank relocated, the latter building was converted to house the new Assembly Hall.
Located on the island of Helgeandsholmen, the building is flanked by water and is impressive on the horizon, especially at night. On the eastern part of the island, visitors will find restaurants, which have been serving the local cuisine since 1832, along with an exquisite public park, offering incredible views of the Riksdag and the surrounding landscape.
Walking Tours in Stockholm, Sweden
With almost 70 museums in operation, Stockholm houses more museums than most cities on the planet. The island of Djurgården, inside Stockholm, is home to an array of museums and historic monuments, including Scandinavia’s most popular Vasa Museum and Sweden’s first open-air museum. To explore these and other museums of Djurgården in detail, follow this self-guided walk.
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Once an independent city, Norrmalm has been a part of Stockholm (one of its central areas today) since 1635. Many of Norrmalm's old buildings were torn down during the 1950s-60s to clear space for modern construction. Still, the most notable pieces of local architecture are in place and reveal a wide range of styles - Late Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque. Among the many places of interest found. view more
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Södermalm, or "Söder" for short, is a borough in central Stockholm, incorporating a large island of the same name (formerly known as "Åsön"). Although considered an island, the water surrounding Södermalm to the north and south does not flow freely, but passes through a series of locks. Visitors are charmed by the borough's narrow, cobbled streets and neat squares, as. view more
Gamla stan Walking Tour
Our time together on this orientation walk will mostly be spent on the main island district that forms Stockholm’s historical city center: Gamla stan, or Old Town. As we cross Gamla Stan, we'll develop a picture of how the city came to be and of life in Stockholm today. With cobblestone streets underfoot and waters of the archipelago rushing by, Stockholm’s atmosphere is thoroughly charming. This is a city deeply attuned to the natural environment that surrounds its urban geography.
From certain vantage points in Gamla stan, we'll also have amazing views across the water. The skyline when viewed from the west side of the Old Town is dominated by the City Hall. The municipal building is located in another island district, but luckily, the open water gives us a clear panorama of its red brick tower. We'll make sure to discuss this notable structure and take advantage of the wide-angle view to admire its distinctive architecture.
The island of Gamla Stan can be easily reached by private and public transport. At the station stan Gamla keep the Grona - and Röda linjen the Stockholm subway . Furthermore, various bus lines drive across the island and have stops there. The island and the Vasabron , Norrbro and Strömbron can be reached by private transport from the direction of Norrmalm . Gamla Stan can be reached from Södermalm via the Slussen transport hub . The Centralbron bridge leads over the island, but has no entry or exit there.