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Sweden: Gamla Stan

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Gamla Stan | Sweden | Europe

[Visited: March 2012 and many times before]

Gamla Stan, or old town, is one of the main attractions of Stockholm. It is conveniently located right in the middle of the capital, and is just made to be explored on foot. Gamla Stan came into being in the 13th century, and it is mostly located on the island of Stadsholmen (city island); also the smaller islets like Riddarholmen are considered part of the old town. As recently as 1980, it was officially called the Town between the Bridges, which describes its location well: on both sides of the island, bridges connect Gamla Stan to the northern and southern parts of the Swedish capital. Some important landmarks can be found here, including the Royal Palace, the Cathedral, and the house of nobility. Apart from this, you can find squares, statues, alleys, and charming medieval houses in Gamla Stan.

Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): House of Parliament on the left and Gamla Stan with Cathedral bell tower in the background

Light snow was falling out of a grey sky when I woke up in Gamla Stan; after having been here many times before, this was the first time to sleep on the old town island. This time, I did not have much time, and I decided to go for a walk anyway. Gamla Stan never bores, and when I started walking the alleys to a city that was slowly waking up, memories of my first visit came to mind. It had been totally different, but also the same: it had been the end of summer, but the atmosphere of the medieval houses, mostly ochre colour, the cobble stone streets, the alleys, the arched entrances, the unexpected small squares, statues - they did not fail to attract. I walked the streets without a plan, walking west, north, east, south; just let Gamla Stan unfold on the way.

Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Narrow alley in the heart of Gamla Stan

I passed landmarks like the Royal Palace, the Cathedral, and the Stortorget or Big Square; but I somehow liked the quiet alleys more. A visitor can easily spend hours walking the alleys, crossing the squares, walking along the shores, having a drink in one of the many bars, peeking into one of the many small shops hidden in the alleys. I criss-crossed the island, standing still at a corner, see parents walk their kids to school, a lone guard defending the Royal Palace, walked the waterfront at Skeppsbron, with its great views of the islets to the east, boats bobbing on the water that had been ice not long before, and struggled against the cold wind coming around a corner. Back to the alleys again: stopping to look at details of houses, a golden crown topping the number of a house, sculptures, signs, small replicas of the typical Gamla Stan houses used as mailboxes. Before I knew it, my time was up and I had to leave the old town.

Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): St George and the Dragon statue on Köpmanstorget in Gamla Stan
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Stockholm Cathedral with obelisk at Slottsbacken in Gamla Stan
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Statue on a banister of the Royal Palace at Gamla Stan
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Typical street in Gamla Stan with tall houses and cobble-stoned pavement
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Arch giving access to one of the many cobble-stoned alleys in Gamla Stan
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Man with glasses: sculpture in Gamla Stan
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Café sign in Gamla Stan
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Small square with statue on the southern side of Gamla Stan
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Wall of the Royal Palace with sculptures of women
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Entrance to a building on Skeppsbron on the eastern side of Gamla Stan
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): View of the Royal Palace in Gamla Stan
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Detail of a house entrance in Gamla Stan with golden crown
Picture of Gamla Stan (Sweden): Window shutters on an old building in Gamla Stan

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Gamla Stan (Sweden). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Gamla Stan.
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