Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Travelogue: Trip to Scandinavia - Stockholm: Gamla Stan

The first country that we started our Scandinavia trip in was in Sweden, famous for being the home country of Ikea. Would I be seeing Ikea shops everywhere in the country? We flew into Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden.  Just joking. One of the main reason we visited Stockholm was to visit my friend from back in my University days.What impressed us about Stockholm is how beautiful, clean but yet funky and stylish. It provides a lot of attractions and places for tourists to check out.


Stockholm is actually made up of 14 main islands, which means you will see bridges and waterways everywhere you turn. Due to that, Stockholm is one third waterways, one third parks and one third city. You have plenty of great food markets, fairs, restaurants and shops to keep you busy and not forgetting the beautiful waterfronts around, which is why it is often called 'the Venice of the North'.

View as we were walking along the waterfront

Once we checked into our hotel and refreshed ourselves, we made our way to the Old Town, Gamla Stan. It is one of the most beautiful medieval cities around. Gamla stan is actually situated on the island of Staden, linked via various bridges. It was a lovely stroll from our hotel towards Gamla Stan.

The area is a historic area filled with beautifully conserved seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Baroque and Renaissance buildings. This is particularly popular with the tourists with its narrow cobblestone streets and colourful buildings, one can spend hours wandering around here and checking out the antique shows, arts showrooms and unique cafes.

Narrow streets of Gamla Stan
Noticed the colourful buildings' facades

The atmosphere in the Gamla Stan is just lovely. Since it was winter, the area was quiet. We could wander around the streets with barely anyone else in sight. Only problem was I spotted a lovely pastry shop but it was closed!!!

Yummy pastries but the shop was closed :(

The largest attraction in Gamla Stan is the Royal Palace, with its 600 rooms and many museums located within the Palace, it is another popular tourist attraction. There's also a parade of soldiers and the daily changing of the guard to catch while you are there.
Back of the Royal Palace approaching from the north side

Parade of the Soldiers at the Palace
The Royal Palace of Stockholm is His Majesty The King's official residence and is also the setting for most of the monarchy's official receptions. The palace is a daily place of work for The King and Queen as well as for the various departments that make up the Royal Court.

Royal Treasury entrance of the Royal Palace

Royal Palace

We also managed to catch the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace. It was great as there were not many people so we had a fantastic view of the whole process.

The Changing of the Guards at the Royal Palace

After that, we went back to exploring more of the streets around Gamla Stan. It was such a lovely way to spend a beautiful & sunny winter's afternoon.

We found our way to the heart of Gamla Stan - Stortorget, where the square is surrounded by old colour merchant houses.

Colourfult merchant houses in the square

Streets of Gamla Stan

Just off the Stortorget is the Nobel Museum. The museum is devoted to display and show information on the Nobel Prize, its founder, Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Laureates from 1901 to the present, most notable are Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela to name a few. It costs SEK80 to enter and you are free to join the Guided tour that is conducted every hour or rent an audio guide at SEK20.

Nobel Museum
View towards Riddarholmen Church

Also near to the Gamla Stan is the Riddarholmen Church. It is located on the island of Riddarholmen just across from Gamla Stan. It is the burial church of the Swedish monarchs. If you are interested, do go and have a visit. 

This is the end of the post of Gamla Stan, join me next time as I explored more of Stockholm.

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