As we mentioned in a previous blog, Stockholm is made up of many different islands. This blog continues to explore Stockholm Sweden’s islands.
Sodermalm is an ex-working-class community that has been transformed into the bohemian and contemporary artistic center of the city. It is loaded with studios and galleries for all types of contemporary art and is rapidly emerging as one of the city’s hottest café and nightclub areas.
It is also home to a couple museums, neither, unfortunately, we were able to visit.
- City Museum traces the history of Stockholm from prehistoric days;
- Fotographia hosts major photographic exhibitions ranging from landmark photographers like Annie Liebowit.z to contemporary artists.
Hammarbyt Sjostad is n island just south of Sodermalm. We crossed a bridge to get there mostly to check out the Ericsson Globe, with a 426-foot high dome which makes it the largest spherical building in the world. While used primarily as a hockey arena and concert venue, the addition of “Skyview”, a funicular that climbs the side of the globe, added a tourist dimension to the structure.
Although Stockholm consists primarily of a number of smaller islands, Norrmalm is one particularly large island with many different sections and flavors. For example, it has a large shopping district, a modern business district and a more historic section At the southern edge of the island, it has a number of more historic and cultural sights. Among the more important of these are:
- National Museum of Fine Arts, Stockholm’s premier art museum that is particularly strong in Northern European masters of the 16th through 19th centuries.
- King’s Garden, conveniently situated across the water and in plain sight of the Royal Palace. Once reserved for the aristocracy, the garden, with its open lawn, sculptures, fountain, and during the summer, a concert stage, now belongs to the public.
- Grand Hotel, supposedly one of the most grand, historic and luxurious in all of Scandinavia. While this is not especially obvious from the exterior or the lobby, the café, and especially its carved plaster ceiling, do provide at least a hint of something more impressive in the rooms, or at least in the suites. From what our walking tour guide told us however, the hotel, and especially its 300 square meter presidential suite, is still the preferred residence for visiting royalty, dignitaries and Nobel Laureates—at least for those that do not rate invitations to stay in the Guest Suites of the Royal Palace (see our post on the Royal Palace)
- Opera, which, at least from the outside, appears unremarkable, is on the site of one of the oldest opera companies on the continent. But, while the company was founded in 1773, the current structure dates “only” from 1899.
- Jakob’s Church, a pretty, very visible red church that towers over and draws attention from the opera—especially with its lovely clock/bell tower and green copper roof.
- Raoul Wallenberg Park, dedicated to the selfless and self-sacrificing Swedish businessman and diploma who disappeared while saving tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.
- Royal Dramatic Theater, a dramatic marble, Art Nouveau building with beautiful goldleaf trim and sculptures. Built in 1908 to house dramatic productions, it has eight stages.
The island, as mentioned above, has much more than historic sights. It is also home to some of the largest and most upscale shopping districts in the city near the Central Station train depot and Ostermalm Square and some of the city’s most modern office buildings. And for those looking for more affordable shopping, Ikea runs a bus directly from Central Station to its 55,000 square meter store!
Djurgarden Island is also known for a number of other museums that we did not visit. Among these are:
- Prince Eugens Waldemarsudde home, with a collection of the prince’s collection and some of his own paintings (some of his frescos which also grace Stockholm’s City Hall);
- Thielska Gallery for a collection of art from leading Nordic artists;
On a lighter side, the island is also home to:
- Grona Lund amusement park;
- Junibacken, a children’s attraction devoted to the books of Astrid Lingren.
Outer Stockholm: The Archipelago
And this is only the inner core of the city. The archipelago of which Stockholm is a part consists of more than 22,000 island, ranging from virtual pinpricks, to suburban islands and one particularly large island (Bjorko) that was home to multiple towns and 40,000 residents as far back as the 9th century. Another (Drottningholms Slott) serves as the current home of Sweden’s royal family.
And this does not even consider the dozens of mainland cities and towns that are located within about an hour of Stockholm. These include relatively large cities, such as Upsala to the north, and the smaller, but also historic city of Norrkoping to the south (which has a separate blog).