Stockholm’s noble past and present

by Ella FAIRCHILD on July 29, 2009

Located on the Baltic Sea, Stockholm is one-third water, one-third parks, one-third city. On arrival, get a Stockholm Card for access to nearly every sight and all public transit.

With its steel-and-glass Modernist buildings and dedication to green living, Stockholm has the feel of a gleaming metropolis, but it offers a satisfying mix of old and new, from a well-preserved 17th-century warship to its glittering 20th-century City Hall.

Stockholm, with 1.8 million people, is built on an archipelago of 14 islands woven together by 50 bridges. Gamla Stan, the city’s historic island core, is an Old Town of winding, lantern-lit streets, antiques shops and classy cafes clustered around the Royal Palace.

The palace hosts a fun, spirited changing of the guard ceremony, and contains the Royal Armoury, with Europe’s most spectacular collection of medieval royal armour.

While churches dominate cities in southern Europe, in the Scandinavian capitals, city halls take the lead. Stockholm’s City Hall, constructed in 1923, is an amazing mix of eight million bricks and 19 million chips of gilt mosaic. To see the interior, take the entertaining tour. And for the best city view, climb the 348-foot-tall tower.

Nobel winners stay at Stockholm’s Grand Hotel. Even if you’re not an honoree, it’s still worth a visit for the best smorgasbord in town. Here are some of the traditional dishes you’ll find: herring, boiled potatoes, knackebrod (Swedish crisp bread), gravlax (salt-cured salmon flavoured with dill and served with a sweet mustard sauce) and meatballs with gravy and lingonberry sauce.

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