Sunday, January 14, 2018

Gamla Stan: In the Old Town of Stockholm

In the final post of our Sweden travel series and my solo trip to Stockholm, I want to share with you the jewel of the capital city: the old town or Gamla Stan. Gamla stan consists primarily of the island Stadsholmen. Officially, but not colloquially, Gamla stan includes the surrounding islets Riddarholmen, Helgeandsholmen, and Strömsborg. I made my stroll through the old town just as the winter night was rushing over the city. With not much to do I took my time exploring every nook and cranny of this place. The town dates back to the 13th century, and consists of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic architecture. Let's take a walk...

The name Stockholm originally referred to Gamla Stan only, but as the city expanded, the name now also refers several suburban areas and the metro region. The name Stockholm means "log island" in Swedish. The previous capital of Sweden was located in Sigtuna. A thousand years ago Sigtuna had problems with armed gangs attacking the city. The situation became untenable and there was a need to find a new location for the capital city of Sweden.

According to legend the leaders in Sigtuna then took a log of wood, cut out all the wood inside, filled it with gold, and let it float on the water. The log was floating on the water for several days and eventually hit land on the island where Gamla Stan today is located. The island of Stockholm had the advantage that it was an island, easy to defend from armed gangs that could be thought to want to attack the city. In the shot below you can see the Riddarhuset a grand 17th-century house and great hall for meetings of the nobility, featuring 2,330 coats of arms.

I took this long exposure shot on the bridge towards the Riddarholmen Church (shown in image 4). That church was a former church now used for burial & commemorative purposes with sections dating from 13th century. Loved seeing the cars rush by under the bridge, creating golden and red strikes in the long exposed images. I then entered the inner circle of Gamla Stan.

The inner streets of Gamla Stan are cozy and warm. At every corner there is something to see and to do. It's mostly shops but you will also find restaurants and cafes. Nearby is the small German church dating to the Middle Ages, with striking stained glass & a baroque interior.

The present alleys only give a vague glimpse of the appearance of the medieval city where the gables of the building were facing the streets and contained window bays for offering goods of sale; where filth, the bumpy paving and hand-drawn vehicles made walking circumstantial; and where odors and scents from dung, food, fishes, leather, furnaces, and seasonal spices mingled.

Stortorget is the name of the scenic large square in the centre of Gamla Stan, which is surrounded by old merchants' houses including the Stockholm Stock Exchange Building. During the Christmas season this is where the Chhristmas market is being held.

As well as being home to the Stockholm Cathedral, the Nobel Museum, and the Riddarholm church, Gamla stan also boasts Kungliga slottet, Sweden's baroque Royal Palace, built in the 18th century after the previous palace Tre Kronor burned down.

During nights (and certainly during the long winters) the city was completely dark, save for exceptional fire watchers and nocturnal ramblers who used torches to find their bearing. Neither were there any street signs guiding foreigners as no streets were officially named, instead referred to as "the thoroughfare running from the outer southern gate and up to the cross and the chapel" or constantly renamed after the most prominent person settled in an exposed part of the alley. Indeed, historical records contain many examples of obscure references to locations in the city, close to impossible to pin down as some streets have been renamed dozens of times, often carrying the same or a similar name as other streets before physically ceasing to exist.

Back outside I took one final look back the old town of Stockholm as night was surely approaching. A wonderful day come to an end and the next day I took the train back to Gothenburg and one day later we returned safely back home.

The End


  1. such a beautiful city. I have said many times here that i love the narrow streets. all of these photos just amaze me since i have not seen them with my own eyes. I went through the slide show twice. gorgeous

    1. Thank you Sandra, really appreciate it.

  2. what a great place to kill the camera battery.

    Lots of lovely shots

  3. Looks comfortably familiar to me even if it's been a good while since I was last there myself! :) Charming photos in spite of the weather... Thanks!

  4. Incroyable images Mersad.. you really do take us with you on these fabulous trips.. and I don't even have to face my fear of flying 😀

  5. Everything that is great about your work is shown in this series. Excellent, atmospheric, and superbly executed. The 7-11 sign was jarring, though.

  6. Like your photos of the old town with its narrow cobble streets providing fine reflections from the street lights. Your trip to Stockholm was a great success.

  7. I found this especially fascinating as I am second generation Swede on one side and I think third on the other side but know little about Sweden. Love the old buildings and cobblestone streets. Thanks for sharing your visit. :)

  8. Nice vieuws of Stockholm. The only city I have not seen in contrary to Helsinki and Copenhagen.

  9. Wieder ein so toller Bericht und superschöne Fotos. Danke dir vielmals für den kleinen virtuellen Urlaub der mir wieder viel Freude gemacht hat.

    Schönen Wochenstart und viele Grüsse


  10. Awesome pics. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  11. Lovely, wintry shots. Thank you for sharing.

  12. My great-grandparents (some of them) came from Sweden -- I would love to visit, but perhaps in the summer. I really enjoyed your tour however and 'old town Stockholm' is beautiful.

  13. Sehr schöne Eindrücke und Details.
    Liebe Grüße

  14. That long exposure photo is phenomenal.

  15. I'm continually amazed by your photographic talent, Mersad. This set is really stunning.

  16. This was stunningly beautiful. You are the feature today at the Saturday blog link party at

  17. Your photographs are just absolutely stunning!

  18. This is often moreover a fairly good blog post that we certainly cherished analyzing. Not necessarily every single day which enjoy the chances to find a product. free tour stockholm



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