Stockholm, Sweden's capital city and major port, lies between Lake Malaren and the Baltic Sea. Part of the city is situated on an archipelago of twenty islands and part on the Swedish mainland. The city, with its bridges and canals,its large open spaces and both old and modern buildings, creates an efficient, harmonious city.
When founded in the 12th century, the old city had a wall. This area is made up of Stadholmen, Riddarholmen and Holgeandsolmen islands. Even though the city has suffered a lot of damage from fires, the centre has still managed to maintain its medieval feel. This is the site of two highly important religious buildings, dating back to the 13th century, the Saint Nicholas Cathedral, on the island of Stadholmen, site of royal coronations and the Riddarholm Church, on the island of the same name, resting place of Sweden's Kings and Queens. Stadholmen Island is also the site of the Royal Palace. Completed in 1754, the building contains 608 rooms, some of which still host official royal ceremonies. The National Museum, located in front of the Palace, is housed in an 18th-century building and contains the largest collection of Swedish art. The 17th century House of the Nobles (Riddarhuset), on the island of Riddarholmen, is a splendid example of Dutch Baroque and once served as the residence of the Nobility. Holgeandsolmen island is the site of the Parliament Building (1905) and the old State Bank (1906) and the Town Hall, which is located in the centre of the Kungsholmen district. This red-brick building was constructed between 1911 and 1923 and features a 106-metre bell-tower, which chimes twice a day. The building's blue room is the site of the Nobel Prize presentations, which take place on the 10th of December every year, on the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the rich 18th century industrialist.
The lush, green island of Djurgarden is located to the east of the centre, beyond the small island of Skeppsholmen, site of the 1998 Modern Art Museum. Djurgarden was the royal hunting zone and today is the site of the Vasa Museum, inaugurated in 1990 and home to a large battle-ship. The Skansen, a large open-air ethnology museum is situated a short distance away. The museum houses exhibitions of Swedish farming life, with entire ancient Scandinavian buildings on display, which have been transported and re-built on site.
The ultra modern district of Norrmalm is located on the mainland to the west of Lake Malaren and north of the old city. The district is home to the main railway station and the Kungstradgarden, one time royal gardens and now an important meeting point. The Stadium, built in red brick in 1912, for the Olympics of that year, is situated in the Ostermann district. The large district of Sodermalm, south of the old city and linked to it by the Centralbron (central bridge), is the location of the Globen Stadium. Built in 1989 and site of sporting events and concerts. The 1883 Katarinahissen, is a 38 metre high panoramic lift, which provides the visitor with spectacular views over the city.
Hotels and lodging
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The Dottningholm Castle ( 1662-1700), the royal family residence, has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. The castle grounds are the site of a theatre constructed in wood, dating back in 1763, which hosts Baroque musical operas. The Theatre Museum with costumes and original scenery is located nearby as is the not-to-be-missed Chinese Pavillon. A boat which leaves from the city centre takes visitor to Birka, on Lake Malaren, the first Swedish town, founded by the Vikings in the 8th Century. The Stockholm Archipelago comprising 24,000 islands, merits a boat trip. A 25-minute boat trip takes the visitor to Fyaderyolmarina at the mouth of the archipelago, site of characteristic pubs and shops, a sea museum and an aquarium. The island of Vexholm is 75 minutes from Stockholm and has modern houses and a XVI Century fort. Visitors can arrive on the island of Uto in 2 hours and 45 minutes, site of the oldest iron mine in Sweden. Samdhamn is noted for its natural beauty. A pleasant trip with background jazz music can be taken on the steam boat Blidosund.
Midsommer (the longest day of the year) is one of the most interesting festivals in Sweden. The festival is celebrated the weekend closest to the 24th June. Stockholm is decked with flowers for the occasion and people meet at Skansen, to celebrate with music and dance. The Saint Lucia Festival is held on the 13th December, when, during what is considered the shortest day of the year, young girls dress in white and bearing candles, offer biscuits and hot drinks. The Stockholm Beer festival is held during the months of May to September. September and October are the months of Xposeptember, the city's film festival. The Christmas Market takes place during November and December in the main shopping zones of the city, including Hotorget, Gamla Stan, Drottninggatan, Hamngatan, Bibloteksgatan and Stureplan.
Maps and transportation
Getting to Stockholm
Stockholm is serviced by three airports, Bromma, Arlanda and Skavsta, which makes getting to Stockholm very easy. Although Bromma airport is the closest of the three airports to Stockholm and is just under 8klms (5 miles) from Stockholm itself, Arlanda airport is the largest of the three and is just 37klms (25 miles) from Stockholm. Skavsta airport however, is situated 100klms (62 miles) from Stockholm.
All three airports have good ground support which means that passengers flying into any of the three airport will have no difficulty reaching Stockholm.
Like other large cities, Stockholm is best appreciated by walking around it. The public transport system is, however, clean and efficient. The metropolitan has three lines and 100 stations. The service operates until 1am, when the night time bus service begins. The buses are powered by ethanol and greatly reduce the pollution in the city. Bus passes can be bought for a single ride, 10 rides, daily use, 3 days or monthly. It is also possible to buy the Stockholm Card, a travel card which also allows free entrance to the city's museums but is not valid for travel on Stockholm's ferries. The ideal means of transport, in particular during the summer, is the bike. these can be easily rented and the cycle paths are well signposted and numerous. Canoes, kayaks and pedaloes can also be easily hired in order to enjoy Stockholm from the water.
Practical information and resources
- Currency: Swedish Krona
- Electric supply: 220 Volts, 50 Hertz
- Climate: pleasant summers and fresh winters, thanks to the Atlantic Current. The average temperature during the period May to September is 15-22 °C.
- Opening hours: shops are open Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm and from 10am to 3pm on Saturday. Many are also open on Sundays. Post offices are open from Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 3pm and one day a week until 6pm.
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