Summer has taken its toll. Don’t you just want to escape the intense heat and look for a new adventure? This month, we fly to Sweden for a one of a kind getaway.
By Erika Grace R. Lapitan
Situated east of Norway, Sweden is considered as the largest of the five Nordic countries. Many historical events, both good and bad, have strengthened Sweden into its present developed state. Some of these events were the Bloodbath of Stockholm in 1520, Sweden joining the Third Coalition against France during the Napoleonic Wars, and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1975.
There are a lot of things to unravel in Sweden. Discover more about the territory and learn of its rich antiquities piece by piece.
The Center of Culture
Our story happens at the capital city of Stockholm. The place was established to protect Sweden from maritime invasion. Birger Jarl, a Swedish statesman, founded the city. In 1634, Stockholm was officially declared as Sweden’s capital.
Hailed as the European Capital of Culture in 1998, Stockholm makes visitors swoon with its beautiful landmarks. The first stop is Stockholm Central Station built in 1867 to 1871. It has a 119-meter long waiting hall, a conference facility, and a Royal Waiting Hall.
Travelers can get a glimpse of three World Heritage Sites—Drottningholm Palace, Birka, and The Woodland Cemetery. While Stockholm may entice travelers with its many aesthetic structures, cultural festivals are also a must-see whenever visiting. There’s the Nobel Prize Banquet every December, the Stockholm Pride Parade held around July and August, and the Stockholm Jazz Festival in July.
Reliving the Past
From the Central Train Station, find your way to the old Swedish town of Gamla Stan. The place was once known as Staden Mellan Broarna or The Town between the Bridges. Reachable through bridges connecting to the mainland, the area comprises of over three small islands.
Many attractions in the area all played a great part in the country’s history. The Baroque-styled Royal Palace served as a replacement for the burned Tre Kronor Castle in 1697. The Stockholm Cathedral, also known as the Church of St. Nicholas, houses historical pieces such as The Sun Dog Painting that depicts Stockholm’s image, the statue of Saint George and the Dragon, the Silver Altar filled with religious sculptures and the Den Gyldene Freden restaurant which was hailed as the oldest unaltered diner by Guinness Book of Records.
Roam around Stortorget and be fascinated by its streets such as the Skomakargatan or the Shoemaker’s Street, the Svartmangatan or the Black Man’s Street, the Trädgårdsgatan or the Garden Street, and the Köpmantorget or the Merchant’s Square. There’s also Prästgatan or the Priest’s Street. It remains to be the official residence of the city’s three chaplains and bell-ringer. Don’t forget to visit the Mårten Trotzigs Gränd which is considered as the narrowest street measuring only 35 inches.
Take a chance to see Järnpojken or The Iron Boy. Referred to as the smallest statue in the country, it was designed by Liss Eriksson in 1967. After your sightseeing, make sure to visit the Nobel Museum for an enlightening exhibit of works done by Nobel Prize awardees.
A Place Fit for a Royal
Feel like royalty upon visiting the Svaneholm Castle. Built in the 1530s, Svaneholm Castle lies along Lake Svaneholmssjön in southern Sweden. The castle was once referred to as Skurdorp. It has become the home to royal families from the Gyllenstiernas, the Coyets, the Macleans, the Bennets, Hallenborgs to the Ehrensvärds.
Today, the castle is now owned by Svaneholm Castle Cooperative Society along with other valuable relics. Locals and tourists can take time to explore the castle and learn history from tour guides.
Another historical gem is Sergels Torg. The central public square is a tribute to 18th century sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel. The monument looms over 37 meters with a glass obelisk designed by Edvin Öhrström in 1962. Meanwhile, Järntorget is the second oldest town plaza in Gamla Stan with a history that dates back to 1300. Edifices surrounding the area are known by their numbered names. Some notable structures are the Number 80 or Medusa 4 decked with art nouveau exteriors, Number 85 where a crane symbolizes the square’s trading activities and the Number 84 home of the world’s oldest national bank—Södra Bankohuset.
More Meaningful Places Ahead
Stunning in a lot of ways, tourists can also have a good time in Södermalm Island offering individuals with few yet admirable landmarks.
The church of Katarina Kyrka, named after Princess Katarina, was built in 1695. The church was designed by Jean De La Vallée. It is the resting place of prominent figures like Foreign Minister Anna Lindh and Author Per Anders Fogelström. The church was rebuilt after a devastating fire hit it in the 1990s.
Take a swim while listening to classical music at the Liljeholmsbadet bath house. Meanwhile, Fotografiska Museum can show you a wonderful display of contemporary photographs. Learn more about Sweden’s rich history in the Stockholm City Museum. Located in Södra Stadhuset, the building was constructed in 1685.
Lastly, walk the streets of Fjällgatan and interact with the locals. Get to know how they spend their daily lives. Along Fjällgatan Street is the house of Anna Lindhagensgatan, a popular fighter of women’s rights. It has been converted into a museum depicting her life and works.
They say that journeys are far better than the destination. However, as much as the journeys create a whole new experience, it would always be the destination that solidifies the whole experience. In the end, what would always matter is how you enjoyed your stay and made the best out of it especially if the destination is the city of Stockholm.
Find that cozy retreat you have ever wanted in Sweden and make your summer worthwhile by visiting the country’s iconic landmarks and experiencing its unique culture and traditions.