Creme and terracotta coloured buildings with wonderful decorations are what you meet when visiting the Old Town. Soldiers in blue and with silver helmets march around the royal palace. Close by one both after the other leaves the quay to head for one of the hundreds of larger islands in the archipelago, being waved goodbye by cherry-blossom trees. Welcome to Spring in Stockholm, where you witness the Swedes waking up after cold winter times.
Historians are not sure about how Stockholm as a settlement started. But what is known is that a long time ago the Vikings started their expeditions into other parts of Europe from here. Then in 1252 a guy named Birger Jarl is said to have founded the city, its location chosen as a barrier to protect the Swedish inland against foreign, enemy fleets. Literately translated Stockholm means a “tree trunk on an island”, but if Birger Jarl’s vision was bigger than that, we don’t know. Four centuries later – in 1634 – the city of then 60,000 inhabitants becomes the official capital of Sweden.
Nowadays between 800,000 and 1,8 million Swedes and foreigners alike call Stockholm home, the number varying on whether you count the many suburbs to be part of Stockholm or not. The Gamla Stan – or old town – is still the touristic heart, but built on 13 other larger island Stockholm has expanded big time. Each island has its own vibe. Norrmalm is the modern center, Södermalm is the trendy island, Östermalm is the residential area for the rich, Djurgården is a favourite green escape – just to name a few.
Stockholm can be best experienced on foot, but be ready for some hills to climb especially if you want to get off the beaten track on Södermalm. If you want to go faster, the city’s underground system is big and easy to use, supplemented by buses than run often wonderful as soon as the winter snow has melted. Come in April and you’ll be treated with beautiful blossom trees. But, you’ll have to be quick because the Swedish Spring is short and after two or three weeks it already turns into Summer. |
This story was originally published through Made By Magmar, a joint project of journalist/photographer Marcel Burger and engineer/editor/photographer Magdalena Pezdek, in 2017.