Stockholm, Sweden – One

Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden, is built on an archipelago of 14 islands. This earned it the nickname, “Venice of the North.” The city proudly displays countless historic landmarks while being the county’s hub for modern politics, culture and business.

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1 Stockholm Palace from Slottsbacken Courtyard in Stockholm, Sweden

After a devastating fire destroyed the Swedish castle in 1692, the replacement Stockholm Palace was designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Younger. Construction began on top of the original foundation five years later. The building was interrupted in 1709 by the Great Northern War, resumed in 1727 and finally completed in 1771. This massive and austere complex for the Swedish Royal Family contains 1,430 rooms.

107 70 Stockholm, Sweden
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2 Royal Guard at Stockholm Palace in Stockholm, Sweden

Dating back to 1523, the Royal Guards have stood as sentry at the Stockholm Palace to protect Sweden’s king and queen and members of the Royal Family. This Swedish Army soldier’s dark blue uniform and black helmet signify his role with the Lifeguards or Livgardet. They are a cavalry and infantry regiment. A popular tourist attraction is watching the changing of the guard ceremony at noon on weekdays.

107 70 Stockholm, Sweden
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3 South Stairwell of Stockholm Palace in Stockholm, Sweden

When entering the southern row of the Stockholm Palace, a visitor is immediately impressed with two massive double grand staircases beneath a two-story rotunda. This is the western half. It leads to the Hall of State or Rikssalen and contains the Silver Throne of Queen Christina. On the opposite side is the Royal Chapel.

107 70 Stockholm, Sweden
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4 Royal Chapel at Stockholm Palace in Stockholm, Sweden

Since 1754, the Royal Chapel inside the Stockholm Palace has been the church for the Royal Family and their court yet anyone can attend the religious services. Above the magnificent Gren-Stråhle organ are the Latin words which mean, “Sing the Gods praise in this sanctuary.” The elaborate gilded ceiling has three paintings by Guillaume Taraval which show the ascension of Christ into heaven.

107 70 Stockholm, Sweden
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5 Storkyrkan Cathedral Clock Tower in Stockholm, Sweden

Dominating the skyline of Gamla stan, the Old Town of Stockholm, is Storkyrkan. The clock tower reaches 216 feet. Located next to the Royal Palace, the cathedral is historically the site of royal religious ceremonies. Church of St. Nicholas was founded in 1279. The Great Church was completed in 1306 and reconstructed in 1740.

Trångsund 1, 111 29 Stockholm, Sweden
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6 Seniors Playing Bocce in Stockholm, Sweden

The Slottsbacken, which translates to the Palace Slope, seems like an odd place for a bocce court that is located between the Royal Palace and the Storkyrkan Cathedral. But these seniors seemed oblivious to all of the tourists who were gawking at the historic buildings around them. Instead, they were very intent at bowling the metal balls towards the jack.

Slottsbacken 1 111 30 Stockholm, Sweden
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7 Row Buildings on Skeppsbron in Stockholm, Sweden

The major waterfront street in Gamla stan is Skeppsbron, which means “The Ship’s Bridge.” It is lined with 24 pastel-colored buildings that collectively are called Skeppsbroraden. This strip of land in Old Town was manmade during the early 17th century to become a quay for docking ships. By 1854, the current stone walls were finished and the harbor began to be called Skeppsbrokajen. As the area became prosperous, most of these buildings were constructed during the early 20th century as banks, merchants, warehouses or for other shipping related businesses.

Skeppsbron 26, 111 30 Stockholm, Sweden
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8 Jonas Alströmer Bust at Skeppsbron 8 in Stockholm, Sweden

As a travel photographer, I am fascinated by architectural details. While aiming my camera towards this carving of a man with a winged hat above the portal of Skeppsbron 8, the waterfront street of Old Town, the door opened and out walked Kurt Hahmann, the building’s owner. This delightful gentleman explained the bust was Jonas Alströmer, a prominent 18th century importer, businessman and co-founder of the Royal Academy of Sciences. He is best known for introducing potatoes into Sweden. This red sandstone building was designed by Erik Josephson in 1901. He was a Swedish architect who specialized in banks such as this previous headquarters of the Målardalen provincial Enskilda Bank.

Skeppsbron 8 111 30 Stockholm, Sweden
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9 Number 37 Österlånggatan Street in Stockholm, Sweden

Österlånggatan is a quaint, cobblestone street running through the eastern side of Old Town. During the 13th century, this was the major road outside of the cities walls facing Strömen Bay. It lost its prominence in the 17th century when a block of land was created to form Skeppsborn and the adjoining quay. Today, Österlånggatan is lined with buildings dating back centuries. A good example is Number 37 in the foreground. Part of this building is from medieval times while most was constructed during the 17th and 18th centuries. The gable stone above the door reads in Dutch: “When luck stands by one have a lot of friends but when luck turns where are they then?”

Österlånggatan 37 111 31 Stockholm, Sweden
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10 Bicycle in Old Town Alley in Stockholm, Sweden

Österlånggatan Street in Gamla stan or Old Town is connected by a series of very small alleys, many of which resemble tunnels. They are so narrow they typically only accommodate pedestrians and bicycles like this one leaning against the wall of Stora Hoparegrånd. This implies that this passageway was originally used by barrel makers.

Österlånggatan 16 111 31 Stockholm, Sweden
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11 Norrbro or North Bridge in Stockholm, Sweden

The North Bridge, called Norrbro in Swedish, extends over the Norrström River in two parts. This northern end with its three, Neoclassical arches was built in 1797. The span connects the Gustav Adolfs torg square and Royal Swedish Opera House on the left with a very small island called Helgeandsholmen. The second part (not shown) was completed in 1806 and leads to the Royal Palace.

Norrbro 3, 111 28 Stockholm, Sweden
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12 Royal Opera House Façade Close Up in Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm’s first opera house was called Gustavianska Operahuset, named after King Gustav III who commissioned it and then was assassinated there in 1792. When the Gustavian Opera House was torn down about 100 years later, the current and very ornate Kungliga Operan replaced it in 1898. The Royal Opera House’s neoclassical façade features Corinthian and Tuscan columns plus four statues that symbolize the arts.

Gustav Adolfs torg 2, 103 22 Stockholm, Sweden
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13 Sankt Jacobs Kyrka Façade in Stockholm, Sweden

A chapel was first built near the site of Sankt Jacobs Kyrka in the early 14 century but was demolished by King John III in 1580. Construction of the current Saint James’ Church began in 1588 and was expanded in 1630. After a fire in 1723, a new middle tower was built in 1739 and the copper roof was added in 1910. Of course I had to go inside because the church’s namesake, Saint James the Great, is the patron saint of travelers.

Jakobs torg 5 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden
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14 Houses Number 18 and 20 in Stortorget Square in Stockholm, Sweden

The physical center of Stockholm is the Stortorget Square in the Old Town. Back in Medieval times it was also the political and social center of the city. The red building on the left was built in 1479 and is called either the Schantzka or Ribbinska Huset. Some say the white stones, which were added in 1628, symbolize the 82 people who were promised amnesty by Danish King Kristian II after he conquered the city. However, they were arrested while attending his banquet and then beheaded in this square the next day. The 1520 event is called the Stockholm Bloodbath.

Stortorget 18 111 29 Stockholm, Sweden
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15 Strömparterren Park in Stockholm, Sweden

On the small island of Helgeandsholmen, which is dominated by the Parliament House, is Stockholm’s oldest (1832) yet recently renovated park: Strömparterren. Its name means “Downstairs at Strömmen” which is appropriate because you need to walk the stairs at the Norrbro bridge to reach it. But it is the perfect oasis for a panoramic view of the city while listening to the bubbling pool and the rapids of the Norrström stream. Also here is the Museum of Medieval Stockholm.

Strömparterren 3 111 30 Stockholm, Sweden
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16 Sun Singer Statue at Strömparterren Park in Stockholm, Sweden

This statue of Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, poetry and music, appears to flashing the city of Stockholm because he is naked except for his helmet. Called the Sun Singer or Solsångaren in Swedish, the giant bronze sculpture by Carl Milles stands proudly and unabashedly in Strömparterren Park overlooking the Norrström with the Grand Hôtel in the background.

Strömparterren 3 111 30 Stockholm, Sweden
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17 Archway Between Parliament and Former National Bank in Stockholm, Sweden

At the turn of the 20th century, two buildings were constructed side-by-side on Helgeandsholmen island in Stockholm: the Riksdagshuset and the Riksbank which translates into the Parliament and the National Bank. This archway over a pedestrian street connects the two structures. Both organizations moved out during the 1970s. However, in 1976, a renovation began that led to the Parliament occupying both buildings.

Riksgatan 1, 100 12 Stockholm, Sweden
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18 Coat of Arms on Old Parliament Building in Stockholm, Sweden

The original Swedish Parliament Building was finished in 1905. The Riksdagshuset is an impressive building made even more imposing because it consumes half of the Helgeandsholmen islet in central Stockholm. In the center of its two wings that are lined with Corinthian columns is huge bronze door. Above it is this magnificent relief of the Greater coat of arms of the Kingdom of Sweden. I especially like the two cherubs blowing their horns.

Norrbro 1 111 28 Stockholm, Sweden
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19 Riddarhuset House of Nobles in Stockholm, Sweden

Construction of this stunning Baroque building named Riddarhuset began in 1641. It was the House of Nobility or the Knights’ House until 1866 when noblemen lost their power to the country’s new parliament. However, three classes of Swedish nobility still exist: lords, knights and esquires. These titles do not have special privileges but do convey social status. The Riddarhuset institution maintains records of all past noble families.

Riddarhuset Riddarhustorget 10 111 28 Stockholm, Sweden
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20 Waterfront View of City Hall in Stockholm, Sweden

This woman found an ideal spot along the Riddarfjärde waterfront to sit in the sunshine and enjoy the view of the Stockholm City Hall on Kungsholmen island. The government office building was constructed from 1911 until 1923 using over eight million bricks. The gilded Three Crowns at the top of the 348 foot tower are a Swedish emblem and are part of the country’s coat of arms.

Stockholms Stadshus Hantverkargatan 1, 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden
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21 Riddarholm Church Profile in Stockholm, Sweden

The small islet now called Riddarholmen was a pasture for livestock until 1270 when King Magnus Ladulås had a Franciscan monastery constructed here as his future gravesite. Over time, it evolved into a Catholic and then Protestant church. For over three centuries, Riddarholm Church was the tradition burial site for Swedish monarchs.

Riddarholm Church 107 70 Stockholm, Sweden
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22 Strömsborg Island in Stockholm, Sweden

In a city built on small islands, one is so tiny it did not warrant being named on a Stockholm map until 1733. Seven years later, businessman Berge Ström purchased it and in 1750 built a large stone house. The island was then named Strömsborg which mean’s Stream Castle. This double entedre refers to his last name and the Strömmen River which flows around it. In 1878, it was made accessible by land with a small bridge named Strömsborgsbron attached to the Vasabron. Ström’s home was then replaced by the current building in 1897. Today it is the headquarters for the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

Strömsborg 111 28 Stockholm Sweden
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23 King Charles XII Statue in Stockholm, Sweden

Only 15 years old when he became the King of Sweden in 1697, this 1868 statue of Charles XII in the King’s Garden shows him with a saber in one hand and pointing towards Russia with the other. The historical significance is that in 1700, a triple alliance of countries attacked Sweden during the Great Northern War. He defeated two of the enemies but failed twice in overpowering Russia. The first time lead to his exile and he was killed during the second attempt in 1718.

Karl XII:s torg 1A 111 47 Stockholm, Sweden
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24 People Sunning in King’s Garden in Stockholm, Sweden

While I was traveling in Scandinavia in the spring, it was cold, wet and raining for nearly three weeks. But on the first day I visited Stockholm, the sky was blue and the temperature soared. The locals relished the occasion by rolling up their sleeves and pants legs and basking in the sunshine at Charles XII Square in the King’s Garden.

Karl XII:s torg 1A 111 47 Stockholm, Sweden
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25 Bell Tower of the German Church in Stockholm, Sweden

Back in the14th century, a gild of German merchants constructed their headquarters in the Old Town of Stockholm. Over a century later they expanded it to become Sankta Gertrud or St. Gertrude’s Church. Then, in 1878, this 282 foot brick and copper bell tower were added. Today the Tyska Kyrkan is part of the Church of Sweden but it is commonly called the German Church.

Svartmangatan 16, 111 29 Stockholm, Sweden
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26 German Church Organ in Stockholm, Sweden

Inside the Tyska Kyrkan, which means German Church in English, a visitor will find several visual treasures including the ornate and gilded King’s Gallery where members of the Swedish royal family of German descent used to sit. In this south gallery are 119 murals of biblical passages, large arched windows, a ribbed ceiling and this magnificent organ. It is a reproduction of the 1684 original.

Svartmangatan 16 111 29 Stockholm, Sweden
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27 Bank Building Allegory Sculptures in Stockholm, Sweden

My camera is always delighted when I find allegorical sculptures like these which represent industry and shipping. I am often delighted again when I learn their history. Christian Eriksson used two models to create these Art Nouveau sculptures. One was his wife. The other was a young priest named Nathan Söderblom who went on to be a member of the Swedish Academy, the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize and an archbishop. Imagine his occasional embarrassment over his youthful indiscretion. This former Sundsvall Bank building in Stockholm was designed by the famous bank architect Gustaf Wickman in 1902.

Fredsgatan 4 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden
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28 National Museum of Fine Arts in Stockholm, Sweden

The Nationalmusem was founded at the end of the 18th century but its art collection began two centuries prior. This Renaissance style building on the Blasieholmen peninsula opened in 1866. Inside are ornate halls that exhibit over a half million art objects dating from Medieval times up to the early 20th century.

Södra Blasieholmshamnen 2 111 48 Stockholm, Sweden
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29 Vingar or The Wings Statue by Milles in Stockholm, Sweden

This 1911 bronze statue called Vingar or The Wings is part of the Moderna Musett collection of outdoor art yet can be found in front of the Nationalmuseum facing the Strömkajen waterfront. The artist was Carl Milles, a gifted and famous 20th century sculptor from Sweden whose works can be found across Scandinavia and the U.S. This image, which is also called Vingarna, portrays the Greek god Zeus and his love for a Trojan prince.

Södra Blasieholmshamnen 2 111 48 Stockholm, Sweden
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30 Skeppsholm Bridge in Stockholm, Sweden

Much of historic Stockholm is located on a series of 14 islands which are often connected by 19th century footbridges like this one, the Skeppsholmsbron. Surrounding this archipelago is a series of channels and bays that are all part of the Baltic Sea. They accommodate naval traffic ranging in size from small pleasure boats, to tourist boats like the Safari Queen shown docked here to enormous freighters and cruise ships. This is why Stockholm earned the nickname “Venice of the North.”

Skeppsholmsbron, 111 48 Stockholm, Sweden
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31 Nordiska Museet Building in Stockholm, Sweden

This enormous building on Djurgården island may look like a palace or cathedral but it is the Nordiska Museet. The Nordic Museum houses a collection of 1.5 million artifacts from Nordic Countries that portray the lives and culture of urban and peasant people dating back to the 16th century. The collection was started in 1872 by Arthur Hazelius.

Djurgårdsvägen 6-16, 115 93 Stockholm, Sweden
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32 Grand Entrance of Nordiska Museet in Stockholm, Sweden

The entrance to the Nordic Museum is flanked by two stone obelisks. In the pediment over the door is a statue of Charles X Gustav, who was the King of Sweden from 1622 until 1660. Sitting above him is the likeness of King Gustav Vasa, the founding father of modern Sweden. If you can’t see it very well without binoculars or a telephoto lens, don’t worry. Just inside is an enormous wooden statue of Gustav I that looks almost identical. It was carved in 1925 by Carl Milles.

Djurgårdsvägen 6-16, 115 93 Stockholm, Sweden
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33 The Citadel on Kastellholmen Islet in Stockholm, Sweden

Located at the top of a hill on Kastellholmen islet is a classic looking, red brick fortress called The Citadel. When the Kastellet was built in 1848 it had nine cannons to help defend Stockholm against enemy ships. Then, during World War II, it was fitted with anti-aircraft guns. By 1959 it was decommissioned and in the 1970s it was converted into offices. Then in 2007 it became the home of the Naval Officers’ Society.

Kastellet Stockholm Kastellbacken 1, 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden
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34 Cheering High School Students in Stockholm, Sweden

These people are not cheering at a sporting event or concert. Instead, they are teenagers who are celebrating their last day of high school by cramming into dump trucks and dancing to loud music while touring the streets of Stockholm. When you point a camera in their direction you are bound to get plenty of waves and honking horns.

Strömgatan 4 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden
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35 Romantic Couple Admiring af Chapman Ship in Stockholm, Sweden

This romantic couple is intertwined along the quay of Gamla stan. They are gazing across the Strömmen channel at af Chapman, a full-rigged sailing ship. The Swedish vessel was called Dunboyne when launched in 1888. It circled the globe several times before being decommissioned in 1934. In 1949, after being docked at Skeppsholmen islet, the ship was converted into a youth hostel with 285 beds. Af Chapman is managed by the Swedish Tourist Association.

Skeppsbrokajen 104 111 30 Stockholm, Sweden
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36 Lioness Photo by Nick Brandt at Fotografiska in Stockholm, Sweden

As a professional photographer, I was very excited to visit Fotografiska, the Swedish Museum of Photography in Stockholm, but was very underwhelmed once I saw the images on the first floor. Luckily I gave it a second chance by climbing the stairs. Wow! It was filled with enormous black and white prints of African animals like this lioness by Nick Brandt. He has created a trilogy of photography books that show wild animals in their native settings before they become extent. Just spectacular and inspiring work!

Stadsgårdshamnen 22, 116 45 Stockholm, Sweden
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37 Sunset over Historic Landmarks of Stockholm, Sweden

This beautiful sunset bathes the history of Stockholm with hues of orange and yellow. In the center, on the island of Stadsholmen, is Gamla stan. Old Town originated in the 13th century. The spires on the horizon are (l to r): Riddarholm Church (13th century), City Hall (20th century), German Church (14th century) and Storkyrkan Cathedral (14th century). Floating in the Strömmen waterway is Stockholms Ström 2. This passenger ferry was powered by a steam engine when it was launched in 1894.

Stadsgårdshamnen 22, 116 45 Stockholm, Sweden
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