Stockholm, Sweden

I arrived into Stockholm at about 9pm and hopped in a cab to take me across to my accommodation; the Generator Hostel in the Norrmalm district of the city.

I couldn’t recommend the Generator hostel more; it’s a really new addition to Stockholm and caters for travellers with both dorm and private rooms available. The staff are fab and it’s genuinely a really nice place to stay, which is a lot more than I can say for some of the hostels I have visited across the world…!

I had booked myself into a private room which was spacious, clean and modern. Perfect!

By the time I had got all settled it was pretty late so I decided to tuck down for the night and get a good night sleep ready for a day full of exploring tomorrow.

The next morning, bright and early, I made my way down to the hostel’s restaurant for breakfast which had been included in the first night of my stay. The menu was actually surprisingly varied – not the usual hostel breakfast of toast/butter and jam which I had expected. I opted for heuvos rancheros and a coffee which definitely set me up for the day ahead.

After breakfast, I hit the streets and made my way across to the tourist office in the centre of the city. Visit Stockholm had very kindly offered me sponsorship towards this post and had granted me access to many of the sites across the city . I wandered over, picked up my documents and decided to get going – I couldn’t wait to get exploring.

I decided that the first place I really should visit in the city is the iconic historic quarter; Gamla Stan, so that’s where I headed, taking in the scenery en route.  Gamla Stan is literally a living, pedestrian friendly museum filled with sights, restaurants, cafes, bars and places to shop. The narrow, winding cobblestone streets, with their ancient buildings painted in different colours, gives the area its distinctive character. If you’ve ever seen a postcard of Stockholm, or the cover of a city guide, it will absolutely be a photo of a scene right here in quaint Gamla Stan.

Having wandered around the bustling streets I decided to head over and visit the Royal Palace. Now, I must admit, the Swedish Royal Family aren’t a monarchy that I know very much about. Having researched them a little after visiting Stockholm, however, I can say that I am definitely a fan – what a glam (!) family!

The Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet) is hard to miss if you are visiting Stockholm… located on the north-east corner of Gamla Stan, this imposing palace actually has one more room that our very own Buckingham palace. The Swedes will argue that the extra room makes all the difference…!

The palace was built in the early to mid 1700s on the site of the original castle. Tre Kronor, which was destroyed in a fire in 1697. It is the main royal palace in Sweden where the office of the King and the other royal family members are located even though, nowadays, their official residence is just outside of Stockholm at Drottningholm Palace.

Even if you don’t fancy paying to see inside the Palace, it is still absolutely a brilliant place to have a wander around. I popped into the chapel building which was open to the public and which was absolutely stunning! Every day at 12.15 the changing of the guards takes place in the palace courtyard. Whilst I didn’t wait to watch the guards in the actual palace, I did catch the procession a little while later as the band and soldiers marched through the streets.

From the Palace I wandered down to the river’s edge. Once I reached the water, I headed towards the starting place for a tourist attraction which, I must admit, would not normally be on my ‘to do list’ when visiting a new city. The hop on hop off bus tour. I had been given a free pass to this bus so decided to cease the opportunity and hop on board to see what the fuss was about. Admittedly, you do get a good view from these tour buses, and the commentary is interesting – I just found it so bloomin’ hard however to take a photo that was even a little bit in focus; I might just stick to my own two feet next time…

I hopped off the bus in Djurgården; the island in the archipelago of Stockholm which houses the majority of the city’s museums. This is without a doubt a fantastic place to visit whilst you are in Stockholm. Funnily enough, after stepping off the bus, me and two other men wandered across a gaggle of geese who’s babies had got themselves in quite the predicament; not being big enough to jump up the curb and off the road. It turned into a full on rescue effort with trams and busses being stopped to avoid the goslings, whilst one man herded them to a safe spot where they could jump up on the verge.

Hero duties done and dusted, I wandered up through the island and made my way over to the beautiful Gästham Marina area which houses numerous museums, café’s and restaurants. This beautiful harbour is the perfect place to sit out for a bit in the sun and revel in some real boat envy.

Surprise, surprise, the first museum to catch my attention was the ‘Spirit Museum’. Don’t worry; this isn’t a museum dedicated to ghosts and ghouls, it’s a museum celebrating Stockholm’s infamous and unique alcohol trade. I was in!

The museum consists of both a permanent exhibition and a guest exhibition. Their permanent exhibition is called ‘Sweden: Spirits and a Nation’. This takes an interactive (sight, sound, taste and smell) look at Sweden’s bittersweet relationship with alcohol. There’s some really interesting displays and even a room you can enter to experience how it feels to be hungover; trust me – I didn’t need to enter that room to understand what a hangover feels like!

The temporary exhibition was ‘Champagne’ and of course, was dedicated to the delicious sparkling wine of the famous French region.

You don’t need too much time in this museum as it’s not huge, although it is super interesting  – especially when they bring the tasters out!

Something that the Spirit museum has become really famous for, aside from the exhibits, is it’s outdoor restaurant housed in a pair of refurbished navy sheds and owned by world renowned Swedish chef; Petter Nilsson. The restaurant focuses on bright and elegant food, which highlights the best local produce, direct from organic farms. I managed to secure a table looking over the water. I enjoyed the most delicious lunch of white asparagus with elderflower, served with two sides of vegetables and washed down with a Swedish dry cider. It was incredible. I can’t recommend this little restaurant enough. It’s perhaps not the best stop off however if you are on a budget!

Having sat out in the sun for a little while I decided to head to my next destination for the day; the Vasa Museum – one of Stockholm’s most popular attractions.

Before I start to go into detail about this museum I will start by saying you MUST come here if you find yourself in Stockholm. It is hand’s down one of the most amazing things I have had the luck to witness in my entire life.

Admittedly I didn’t know too much about the Vasa before coming to Stockholm, however, having learnt about it through the museum its safe to say I was FASCINATED.

The Vasa was a Swedish warship that was built during the early part of the 17th century. The construction of this warship was commissioned by the King of Sweden, Gustav II Adolf, whose aim was to increase the military might of his country. Although the Vasa was expected to be one of the most powerful ships of its time, it was, ironically, not sunk by enemy guns, but by a gust of wind… Even more humiliating for the Swedes was the fact that the Vasa sunk just shortly after it left the harbour of Stockholm on its maiden voyage in full view of the city’s inhabitants who came to watch the spectacle…

On entering the museum, you instantly catch your first glimpse of the incredible ship wreck. I was literally blown away and could not wait to learn more about it.

The Vasa was launched during the spring of 1627. It had been measured to be 69 metres in length, 50 metres in height. It weighed over 1200 tons; had 10 sails, 64 cannons, 120 tons of ballast and hundreds of sculptures. As impressive as it was however, the Vasa was unstable.

On the 10th August 1628, the Vasa embarked on its maiden voyage. Just 1300m later, a gust of wind tipped the ship to port side. As the gun ports were left open, water started gushing in and literally within minutes the Vasa had gone 32m below the water.

Nevertheless, the Vasa was not entirely forgotten. For example, in the decades following the disaster, several attempts were made to raise the ship from the seabed. During the 1660s, a team of divers, using an early type of diving bell, succeeded in salvaging the ships cannons. The Vasa was then left alone, and faded out of human memory until the 1950s when it was relocated. Following the Vasa’s rediscovery, an attempt was made to raise it out of the sea, which succeeded in 1961.

The museum is laid on over three of four different stories, each offering a slightly different view of the mighty ship, whilst each floor houses an exhibition dedicated to some part of the ship’s history.

Walking round you can experience what life may have been like for the men on the ship (had they got much further..) the clothes the sailors would have worn, the ship rules, cooking methods and even the medical supplies on board. I was literally fascinated. The one thing I could not get over was how well preserved everything had been kept under the water all these years. I found it so hard to get my head around the fact these exact pair of shoes etc etc in front of me were worn by someone on the boat all those hundreds of years ago.

It’s fair to say, I was completely won over by this museum and literally could have spent hours here. It really is a must when in Stockholm.

Having finished off in the Vasa museum, I continued wandering around Djurgården until I came up to another, erm, ‘must do in Stockholm’; the Abba Museum. Ok perhaps take the ‘must’ with a pinch of salt…

Growing up, we were well and truly surrounded by the sounds of Abba; it was actually my older sister out of the two of us who was the bigger fan, but I definitely thought being in Stockholm; the home of Abba, I may as well take a wander around.

So I probably didn’t spend close to as much time as I should have in here; I’m sure the die hard fans spend hours admiring the interactive exhibits, marvelling at the costumes, and revelling in the nostalgia of the time. I did find it interesting; particularly seeing the original clothes and shoes of the band – some of which were super recognisable, such as the exact outfits they wore in 1974 when they won Eurovision with the hit ‘Waterloo’. It’s just safe to say, I didn’t partake in the many karaoke opportunities available….

Having spent an hour or so in the museum, I wandered over to my next stop off for the day; Skansen – the word’s first open air museum! Skansen was opened in 1891 by ethnologist Artur Hazelius and allows us nowadays to experience what life would have been like in Sweden during the 19th century.

You literally could spend an entire day here – it is absolutely huge. I started wandering around the village section, with its beautiful original wooden houses, bakeries, shops, studios, allotments and factories. It really was fascinating and with the staff walking around in typical dress from the era its easy to think you’ve been taken back in time.

One of my favourite exhibits was the glass blowers workshop where not only could you buy some of the beautiful artisan handicraft, you could even participate (or watch in my case) the products being made. It was literally fascinating!

I would absolutely recommend Skansen to people visiting with children; the houses are all really interactive, there’s lots of activities and of course, a whole host of animals to keep little ones occupied. It’s perhaps not somewhere I would visit if I was only here for a weekend but I certainly found it an interesting stop off.

Having finished in Skansen, I hopped on one of the city’s public trams and made my way back to the main centre of the city. I wandered around the main shopping district; even managing to catch a bit of the World Cup which was playing in a public square, before heading back to the hostel and getting myself sorted for the evening ahead.

That evening, I was super super excited to be visiting a proper Swedish institution; Pelikan restaurant – recommended by Anthony Bourdain no less as THE place in Stockholm to try proper Swedish meatballs – yessss! Having been open since 1901 Restaurant Pelikan is a classic on the Stockholm restaurant scene, and sitting inside with its mahogany walls and wide windows, once again its easy to feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

I ordered the Swedish meatballs which are served with the creamiest of mash potatoes, tangy lingon berries,  pickled gherkins and a decadent cream sauce. I literally cannot explain how delicious this meal was and it is absolutely a must do if you’re in Sweden and want to sample traditional faire. Even better, the waiters were hilarious – ensuring me that there was ‘absolutely no butter’ in my mash potato whilst throwing me the telling wink.

As you can imagine, after a day jam packed with exploring and eating my way sound Stockholm, I slept like a log that evening…!

The next morning, I got myself up and ready, checked out of the hostel and made my way in an uber across to the trendy neighbourhood of Sofo on the island of Södermalm. This area, historically was a really deprived area in Stockholm where poor workers used to live and commute across to the main island. Nowadays however, the area is booming with youngsters, clubs, bars and restaurants. The reason I came across here today? Brunch. All of the brunch.

I did a little research prior to coming to Stockholm to find out where I could find a good breakfast; the same place was mentioned numerous times as a ‘must visit’  –  ‘Egg’. I found the café on a quiet street in the neighbourhood and could see just how popular it was by the line of people lining the pavement trying to make a reservation. It wasn’t tourists here however, it was groups of young Swedes, sitting out in the sun with a cup of coffee in hand, patiently waiting for a table to become available.

After 15 minutes or so sitting out in the afternoon sun I was soon shown to my table by the owner; a young guy in his late twenties. We got chatting, turned out his sister lived in Brixton, not too far away from my old flat. The menu was incredible. So good that it was almost difficult to make a decision!

In the end though I opted for the weekly special ‘Asparagus Scramble’; sautéed green asparagus, parmesan, caramelised onion and soft scrambled egg. Oh wow. I ordered a side of bacon to go with it and washed it down with plenty of coffee and orange juice. Their homemade hot sauce (habanero and mango) was also second to none! I almost asked if I could buy a bottle of it to take home. This place is honestly so delicious and I can see why it has become such a popular hangout spot in Sofo.

Completely full from brunch I hit the pavements and took to admiring the brightly coloured streets, the old wooden houses, and the eclectic mix of shopping spots in the neighbourhood. From here you can also get a fantastic view across to on the main island which was beautiful on this lovely summers morning.

My next stop of the day was the famous Fotografiska (the photography museum) which again, was up there in my favourite Stockholm attractions. You literally could spend hours here wandering around and getting lost in the exhibitions. Top tip: there is a viewing platform on the upper floor restaurant which gives you amazing panoramic views across the city.

On my visit I was able to enjoy the Cathleen Naundorf, Marie Hald and the Evelyn Bencicova exhibitions. There was also a really great guest exhibition called ‘Mother Daughter’ by Linda and Mary McCartney which had some super cool pieces on display. I honestly loved milling around this incredible gallery.

Having left the Fotografiska I continued wandering around Södermalm and made my way across to the Nytorget ‘New Square’ area which is a buzz with open green spaces, delis, coffee shops, boutiques and vintage stores. I sat out in the neighbourhood’s park in-front of the fountains,soaking up the afternoon sun and enjoying the atmosphere of the area. The place was abuzz with young couples, families, children and groups of friends; it was a super lovely and relaxing spot.

I could have spent hours there…! In the end I pulled myself up off the grass and treated myself to a delicious ice lolly from the very cool Urban Deli.

I had about 4 hours or so before I had to head to the airport for my flight back to London so I decided to hop on the city’s subway and make myself across to Gamla Stan to join up on one of the cities free walking tours. Again; this was FAB. A genuine must do whilst you’re in Stockholm.

I joined the group just outside the subway station and was introduced to our tour guide; Kim – a born and bred Swede and a long term Stockholm resident.

Kim started by introducing us to some interesting facts about the city of Stockholm. Stockholm has a population of around about 1 million people which shows you just how small the city actually is when you compare that to London’s population of 14 million.

Stockholm is made up of a cluster of 17 main islands which are connected by a total of 57 bridges. Apparently the archipelago is made up of a total of 30,000 islands so its really not an exaggeration to say that Sweden cant expand any further!

The city of Stockholm was founded in 1252 however the city as it is today realty dates back to the 16th century as the original city was mostly burnt to the ground in the great fire of 1625.

One of the features of the original city does however still stand; the Church of Riddarholmskyrkan which was built in 1270. One of the cities most renowned rulers, King Carl 12th was in fact buried in the church. Kim told us a little of his journey to the throne which was crazy interesting to learn about. Carl 12th was only the shy age of 15 when he was launched into Kingly rulership. Apparently he was quite the controversial of Kings; he would notoriously shoot rabbits in the hallways of the palace and run around the ancient streets of Stockholm wearing nothing but a nightdress. A mystery was however shrouded around King Carl’s death. Aged 35, Carl was shot through the head while conducting a siege at Fredrikshald, a hilltop fortress just across the Danish border. They mystery however – the bullet that killed him was Swedish, leading to historians even still today debating on whether this infamous King was in fact killed by one of his own men…!

From the church we continued walking in and up through the cobbled, winding streets of Gamla Stan admiring the higgledy-piggledy multi coloured walls of the ancient builds and the lines upon lines of jumbled window panes.

The next stop on the tour was a little bit of a bizzare one, but I was instantly fascinated when Kim shuffled us into ‘Hell Alley’.

On first look this alley way looks like any other in this medieval part of the city. It’s not until you look slightly closer and notice the devil horn metal decorations on the wall; a reminder of this passages more sinister past. Hell Alley was historically home to the city of Stockholm’s executioner. Interestingly, Kim explained to us that the role of executioner wasn’t a chosen profession, but a punishment. Criminals were given the option of this gruesome career path, or their own death as penance for their crimes. The city executioner, on appointment, was initially taken to have their ears removed, said to prevent them from hearing the screams of their ‘victims’ (now a days we clearly understand that this operation did little more than inflicting pain – the sounds of the screams were still more than audible – ears or no ears). The city executioner’s skin was burned with the markings of the city (ancient tattoos) so that they were unable to escape the confines of Stockholm. They were often ridiculed in the streets and mocked by the city residents and pelted with rotting food and other unthinkable waste. You can therefore imagine why their place of dwelling soon earned the title of ‘Hell Alley’. So bloody interesting!

After leaving – erm – hell, we continued walking through the streets whilst Kim continued providing us with ancient city anecdotes. Kim soon diverted our attention to the numerous holes at the bottom of the buildings; something that I definitely would not have noticed unless it was physically pointed out to me! That’s the reason I love these type of tours! Kim went on to explain how these were the ancient garbage shoots in the city, and explained to us their, erm, filthy history.

The historical garbage chutes were used by the owners of the house and were filled with all types of rubbish; food waste, human waste and animal waste. You can imagine exactly what the smell would have been like. It was simple enough the homeowners empty their waste out through the chute which would run down the internal pipes of the building and take it straight out to be disposed of on the street.

This all sounds great in theory, until you imagine just how awful build up of all of his waste would be left out on the city pavements…!

Kim went on to explain that as time went on and the mass of rubbish built up on Stockholm streets, the rich and residents of the city started to complain to the council of the awful stench coming from the then working class area of Gamla Stan. Not only this you can imagine the state of the streets with rubbish floating downstream – particularly in wet weather.

Instead of dealing with the issue properly, the council at the time’s remedy was simply to block up the holes at the bottom of the street stopping any waste from being deposited out onto the street. This may have worked well for a week or so however soon the waste started to fill up in the pipes, block, and transport the stench back up into into the residents houses. Problem not solved.

The council’s next resolution was to close the streets for an hour or so every couple of days so that the waste chutes could be used properly. This method went on for hundred years or so until a more practical solution was implemented.

Kim told us the story of one lady, Birgitta, who was unlucky enough to be walking down the street when a bucket of waste was emptied from a window above her soaking her in its rotting contents. Birgitta looked up, and professed at the perpetrator ‘may you die of your own blood, you pig‘. Unfortunately for this particular rubbish tipper, Birgitta appeared to have quite the talent for future phrophecy. Legend has it that he went on to die of a nosebleed that just wouldn’t stop! Birgitta became quite the icon in Stockholm having been canonised after her passing. She is now refereed as ‘Saint Birgitta of Sweden’ Perhaps just make sure you don’t spill your rubbish over her…!

From one bit of Stockholm’s history to the next, we continued walking through Galmla Stan and made out way to one sight which is definitely not for the claustrophobic traveller…

Kim took us to a little row of coloured residential houses and asked us in particular to take note of the yellow and orange houses which date back to the 1500s.

In particular Kim pointed out the curly metal spikes on the orange house and the long metal prongs on the yellow house. Kim explained that these are typical of traditional Swedish architecture and mark the point where the walls and floors are supported during construction.

Interesting as this was, Kim hadn’t brought us here to admire metal floor pins, instead it was the owner of the yellow house, Mårten Trotzig, who we were here to learn about.

Mårten Trotzig was a merchant, born in Wittenberg in 1559. He immigrated to Stockholm in 1581 and bought his yellow house in 1597; his iron and copper shop being located on the row of properties to the rear of his house.

Kim explained to us that, successful though he was, Mårten was quite the lazy oaf…. The walk from his house, up along the terrace and back down to his shop behind, minutes even though it would have taken, was far too strenuous a commute for a successful man such as him.

Mårten came up with perfect solution to cut his walk to work and set about building an alley way directly from his house to his shop. To avoid the alley becoming a public throughway, he constructed it at a tiny width of 90cms. Mårten’s laziness was kept a well hidden secret in Stockholm until hundreds of years later, in the 1900s when the Alley was named in his honour – ‘Mårten Trotzigs Gränd’ (Mårten Trotzig’s Alley). As irony would have it, Mårten tried so hard to keep his little alleyway a secret, and now a days it is one of the most visited, and most hash-tagged sites in the whole of Stockholm!

Of course we couldn’t resist a trip through the alley way. Just make sure not to go down in pairs to avoid getting stuck!

The end of Mårten’s alley conveniently brings you out into one of the bustling squares which Kim explained was historically the spot in the city where iron was weighed and traded. Right out on the corner is the bustling Sundbergs Konditori, which having originated in 1785 is the oldest surviving cafe in Stockholm. Although we didn’t have time it definitely looked like a great spot to enjoy a spot of traditional Swedish ‘Fika’ (cake!)

In this same square, Kim pointed out another ‘blink and you’ll miss it sight’ – the painted windows across some of the building fronts. Kim explained that historically, the King placed a tax on the windows in the city; the more windows you had, the more tax you would pay. Canny residents set about filling in their windows with bricks and painting fake windows out on the building’s facades! Even now, some residents have kept their painted ‘windows’ as a nod back to that crazy tax rule.

Just across from the cafe, Kim took us over to a little bronze statue of an interesting little fella, wearing a peaked cap and looking up at the sun through his shades. Kim explained that this was Evert Taube; one of Sweden’s most respect musicians (closely followed by ABBA I imagine..!). Evert’s statue is purposefully not rested atop a plinth, but to show that he was ‘a man of the people’ he was placed down on the street cobbles.

Just behind the statue of Mr Taube stands an elaborate yellow fronted building which Kim explained housed the bank of Stockholm from 1675 to 1905 making it the oldest bank in the world! We got onto the chat of money when Kim mentioned that Sweden is planning on going completely cashless by the year 2030. This is actually something that I really noticed around Stockholm; a lot of places only accepted card payments which, at first seemed a bit strange, but eventually made the whole travelling process much easier!

As we continued up the streets Kim pointed out a restaurant called ‘Den Gylden Freden’ (‘the Golden Peace’). Kim explained that not only was this one of the most expensive restaurants in Stockholm, it was in fact the oldest restaurant in the world. This raised alarm bells with me straight away. I had been in Madrid a month or so earlier and on a very similar free walking tour to this I was shown Restaurant Botin; the ‘oldest restaurant in the world’. Hmm.

Kim did however go onto explain that even though the Botin restaurant in Madrid does in fact hold the Guinness World Record title the worlds oldest restaurant on account of it holding original documents dating back to 1735, Den Gylden Freden does in fact have paintings on the wall dating back to 1722 – three whole years earlier. Sadly for the restaurant however these are not seen as official enough to award it the actual accolade of the world’s oldest, so it’s had to settle in the knowledge that it’s just been pipped to the post by Spain. Interesting!

Further up from the restaurant Kim pointed out attention towards a plaque above the door of a property depicting a Phoenix rising from the flames. This, Kim explained, is an example of some of the oldest insurance in the city. This, without a doubt, was one of the most fascinating things I learnt during this tour!

Kim explained that historically, way before household insurance policies were a thing, homeowners could pay for the local fire fighters to adorn their house frontages with a tale tell sign; the plaque with the Phoenix. What these plaques meant was that these homeowners, in the case of a fire in their street, would be evacuated first by the fire fighters. Whilst that definitely does make sense, it does seem a little bizzare to think that if a fire broke out in a home without the pheonix insurance, their neighbours three doors down with the plaque would be evacuated first, way before the family potentially perishing in the burning building!

I did find this completely fascinating, and once I had been told about these plaques I noticed them all across the city!

A little further up from the bustling square, Kim stopped us outside a fairly non descript apartment building and went onto explain to us that this was the home of Frieda and Benni from ABBA during the time that they were catapulted to fame during the Eurovision contest! Mamma Mia!

From the battle of Waterloo (boom boom!) to a battle against Denmark, the next stop on the tour was infront of an imposing statue of King George slaying the dragon (shown to represent Denmark) to save the Princess (Sweden). Although this was super interesting to see, I was way more fascinated to hear that this area of the city was the historic red light district. Those naughty Swedes.

The tour was soon coming to an end and we wandered up towards our last stop for the day; the oldest square in Stockholm – Stortorget – one of the most well known sites of the city.

Nowadays this city is known for its lovely shops and cafes and its festive Christmas market during the winter months. Regardless of its quaint appearance however, this pretty square does in fact however hide a bloody and violent history which I was more than interested to learn about.

In 1520, Sweden was effectively a nation divided by two factions. Firstly there were those who favoured a union between the Scandinavian countries; Denmark, Sweden and Norway which was established in 1397, and secondly there were those who advocated for Swedish independence. On this year, Denmark’s King Christian II launched an invasion into Sweden in an effort to maintain the Union between the nations. Having succeeded in his military intervention, Christian subsequently summoned key Swedish leaders to a private banquet at the palace on 7 November 1520. Rather than delivering with his promise of a a soiree however; Christian effectively kidnapped his, erm, guests beginning what has been remembered in the history books as the ‘Stockholm Bloodbath’.

On 9 November 1520, a considerable number of those kidnapped were then sentenced to death for heresy. Even bishops who had dared oppose to the union were beheaded for their ‘crimes’, along with dozens of noblemen and commoners who were either hanged or decapitated right here in Stortorget. Over the 9 and 10 November at least 82 lives were lost to the hand of the executioner – you can now definitely understand why these two days have been remembered in history as the city’s very own bloodbath.

This act gave him the title of Kristian Tyrann, Christian the Tyrant. Unfortunately for the king, the slaughter had quite the opposite effect as desired. One nobleman was left alive, because he was not able to attend the “peace talks.” His name was Gustav Vasa, and he was the son of one of the murdered nobles. He managed to rally the people of Sweden during a two-year trek through the country, amassing a large army that he then used to win back the country and defeat Christian the Tyrant. This day is still remembered as the day of Swedish independence.

Not much later, the buildings around the Gamla Stan town square were rebuilt, and one of them, house number 20, became a monument to the fallen. Ribbinska huset was first built around 1479, but the white stones on the facade were added in 1628. Some say they symbolize the decapitated heads of the 82 people who were killed that day by the Danish king, in the infamous event known as the Stockholm Bloodbath.

One of the most noticeable houses in Stortorget is the red Ribbinska huset (“House of Ribbing)  dates back to the 135th century. Most visitors would not look twice at this building, until they learn that each of the white stones in the red wall is said to represent the head of a murdered Swedish noble during the bloodbath…. And there was me thinking they were just decoration!

It was in this beautiful square that we said goodbye to Kim before heading off on our separate ways. This very much brought my trip to Stockholm to an end; from Stortorget I dashed back to the hostel, picked up my bag and made my way back to the airport ready for my flight back to London.

I cannot  put into words just how much I fell in love with the city of Stockholm. I didn’t half keep busy whilst I was there and it would have been nice to have had slightly longer. I would absolutely recommend Stockholm as the perfect place for a city trip.

Big thanks again to Visit Stockholm for kindly showing me around this incredible city. Until next time!

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