The capital of Sweden, Stockholm, is fairly interesting for tourists. It is located on a multitude of small islands interconnected by a ramified network of highways and tunnels. This gives the city a peculiar Scandinavian authenticity, and for this Stockholm is called the «city on water» or the «city between bridges».
As any city, Stockholm has attractive «Old Town», though in this case it is rather an «island», than a «city», - and it is called Gamla Stan. It is just on this island that Jarl Birger founded Stockholm in the middle of 13th century. The city had important strategic meaning, so it began to quickly develop and since that time it remained the capital of Sweden.
Gamla Stan borders with a small island Riddarholmen and an islet Helgeandsholnen. Together they form the Old Stockholm where most of its historical sites are located that may be interesting for tourists.
The Royal Palace with adjoining buildings occupies most part of Gamla Stan. This massive square construction is built in accordance with traditional stern style of Swedish architecture. By the way, it is one of the biggest royal palaces in Europe. The palace was constructed in 18th century on the site of burnt-down old fortress laid down by Jarl Birger. Some halls of the palace are open for tourists. Part of the palace taken up by premises of royal family is closed for visiting.
The rest of Gamla Stan is built with four- or five-floor houses of three different colours – white, red and yellow. This way you can tell when the house was built. The oldest houses, built in … century, are painted white. There a lot of such houses in Riddarholmen. Red houses were built in … centuries, and yellow houses were built in… centuries. In Gamla Stan all houses are closely spaced. There are only narrow alleys between the houses that are closed for traffic.
Jarl Birger Square is in the center of Riddarholmen. There are a lot of mansions built by Swedish nobility in the island. Hence the second name of Riddarholmen – the «Knight Island». From its Quay you can have a magnificent view of Stockholm`s Old Town Hall.
In Helgeandsholnen, opposite the Royal Palace, there are only two buildings – Swedish Parliament Building and the Bank of Sweden. Both buildings were constructed at the end of 19th century in the style of baroque.
Apart from this islands, which are within walking distance of each other, you should go to the island Kungsholmen. On its Quay facing Gamla Stan there was built the Old Town Hall of Stockholm in 1923. Its stern square outline with 106-meter high tower became the symbol of the city.
In order to see the beauty of Stockholm you should climb atop the tower of Old Town Hall from where you can have a wonderful view of the Old Town. From there you can see old houses, church spires and palaces. Also it would be very interesting to visit the halls of Old Town Hall. In the famous Blue Hall the Nobel Prize Banquet takes place on December 10th every yea. And in the Golden Hall you can see grandiose mosaic pictures made by Byzantine technology.
Apart from travelling over the islands on foot, it would be good if you could take a boat ride as well. From water the city has quite a spectacular look, but you must be aware that the main beauties of Stockholm are still in above mentioned islands. The rest of the city is common residential or port areas where there are but few beauties.
By the way, you should go down in Stockholm Metro. While in all other cities metro has only transport function, there it is a huge picture gallery. For several decades the walls of each station have been painted by hundreds of painters including the most famous ones. There are many sculptures, pictures, mosaics and murals.
If you want to see the sites of Scandinavian nature, you should take a boat tour of the Archipelago islands. It consists of about 24 000 rocky islets, covered with pines. This Archipelago is just near the Baltic Coast of Stockholm. There you may fish, have a bath in summer months or just wander among stone cliffs and centuries-old pines.