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Stockholm, Sweden

21 Mar, 2009

Stockholm, Sweden

Many tourist who had the chance to travel the capital city of Sweden often say that the popular description is correct—Stockholm is the Venice of the North. But to say so means that the largest city in Sweden, and arguably also the most beautiful, is nothing more than a shadow to Venice. Of course, Venice is a gorgeous city. However, Stockholm should not be compared to other cities, since it offers incredible natural beauty and incomparable sights and sounds. It is also a very important city not just for Sweden but also the whole of Europe.

In other words, nothing can compare to Stockholm.

Stockholm, as Sweden’s capital, serves as the site of the Swedish government. It was also the residence of the monarchs of Sweden. It is the country’s most populous city, with around 2 million inhabitants all in all. As the center of all things political, cultural, and media-related, there is no doubt that Stockholm is the premier tourist destination in the country. And this is without basis: with more than one million tourists visiting the city every year, Stockholm, according to Euromonitor, is the second most visited Nordic city. With all the attractions it has to offer, it isn’t surprising why millions travel to Sweden to visit Stockholm.

Stockholm became Sweden’s capital city mainly because of one factor: its waterways. With almost one third of the city covered in water, it played a vital part in the history of Sweden. Now, it is known for holding and awarding the Nobel Prize Price, which perhaps is one of the reasons why the country—and the city of Stockholm—was catapulted into worldwide renown.

Of course, beyond the history, Stockholm remains to be a very vibrant and exciting city—among the liveliest in Europe.

For those interested in culture and history, Stockholm houses more than 60 museums. With this overwhelming number, Stockholm is sure to satisfy everyone who plans to travel to the city for its cultural and historical treasures. All the fields are covered—from science to wildlife, from music and theater to technology. Among these museums include the Drottningholm Palace, which served as the residence of the royal family of Sweden. Built during the later parts of the 16th century, the Drottningholm Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which boasts of some the more antiqued structures in the city, including its palace chapel, the Drottningholm Palace Theater, its Baroque garden, and its English garden. Another noted royal residence that is currently a tourist attraction in Sweden is the Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde (or the Cape of Waldermar in English). This home of Prince Eugen is also a museum that houses some of the prince’s artworks, as well as other artworks from important artists. Finally, the Royal Palace (also known as the Stockholm Palace) is the Swedish monarch’s official residence. Its Royal Treasury exhibits the royal regalia of the Swedish state.

Of course, after palaces and castles, tourists should visit the city’s religious buildings. Many travel guide materials cited 15 religious attractions that are definitely must-sees. This would include the Cathedral of Stockholm, also known as the Storkyran (meaning the great church). This is the oldest church in the city, back when it was still called the Gamla Stan, the predecessor of the Sweden capital. The Storkyran is important not merely as an attraction but also for its achievements in design because it is one of the most prominent examples of Swedish Brick Gothic styles in the country. Brick Gothic is one of the variations of Gothic architecture, characterized by a reduced style compared to classic Gothic designs. This design is common within Northern Europe and regions within the Baltic Sea (in which Sweden is part of). Another popular church in the country is the Engelbrektskyrkan. Although relatively a very young structure, the Engelbrektskyrkan (or the mountain church) is magnificent in its simple but intricate design (particularly its interiors) and its location, as if it grew out of a rock hill, sitting on what seems like pedestal within the city’s center. It has one of the highest church naves in the world. Then there is the Saint James’s Church, considered as the most central church in the city, within the area of popular attractions such as the Royal Palace, the Gustaf Adolfs torg, the Royal Swedish Opera, and the Kungstradgarden.

The Kungstradgarden is the most popular park in the city—and perhaps even in the country. Because of its location, it has become among the most popular meeting places and hangout locations within Stockholm. It is also a common melting pot for tourists who want to watch open-air concerts, visit the ice rink (during winter, of course), or simply enjoy the blossoming of the cherry blossom (or the sakura tree in Japan) every springalso houses the Fountain of Molin (or Johan Peter Molin) and the Fountain of Wolodarski. The Fountain of Molin is considered as an important example of Baltic or Scandanavian art, while the Fountain of Wolodarski—with its large bronze urns and its Baroque style—is the centerpiece of one portion of the park where the cherry blossoms are planted.

On the other hand, the Swedish Royal Opera serves as the national stage for, obviously, opera not just in Stockholm but in Sweden.

Lastly, anyone who would travel to Stockholm should not miss the Stockholm Old Town, or the Gamla Stan. As the predecessor of the city, it offers some of the breathtaking sights in the city—and in the country—thanks to the influence of North German architecture with the area. At one point, this area has become neglected, although it recently became popular among tourists who want to see the medieval and Renaissance-inspired structures in the city, a truly charming site in this very lovely city. Within the Gamla Stan is the Stortorget, a small square that serves as the venue of the city’s annual Christmas market, as well as other performances and events. This is where the Sweden Stock Exchange Building, the Nobel Museum, the Nobel Library, and the Swedish Academy are located as well.

Stockholm, Sweden

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