Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden. It is the site of the national Swedish government, the Riksdag (parliament), and the official residence of the Swedish monarch as well as the prime minister. Since 1980, the monarch has resided at Drottningholm Palace outside of Stockholm and uses the Royal Palace of Stockholm as his workplace and official residence. As of 2009, the Stockholm metropolitan area is home to approximately 22% of Sweden's population, and contributes 28% of Sweden's gross domestic product.
Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden with a population of 829,417 in the municipality (2009), 1.25 million in the urban area (2005), and 2 million in the metropolitan area (2009).
Founded circa 1250, Stockholm has long been one of Sweden's cultural, media, political, and economic centres. Its strategic location on 14 islands on the south-central east coast of Sweden at the mouth of Lake Mälaren, by the Stockholm archipelago, has been historically important. Stockholm has been nominated by GaWC as a global city, with a ranking of Alpha. In The 2008 Global Cities Index, Stockholm ranked 24th in the world, 10th in Europe, and first in Scandinavia. Stockholm is known for its beauty, its buildings and architecture, its abundant clean and open water, and its many parks. It is sometimes referred to as Venice of the North. Stockholm is the second most visited city in the Nordic countries, with around one million visitors in 2006.
The city's oldest section is "Gamla Stan" (Old Town), located on the original small islands of the city's earliest settlements and still featuring the medieval street layout. Some notable buildings of Gamla Stan are the large German Church (Tyska kyrkan) and several mansions and palaces: the Riddarhuset (the House of Nobility), the Bonde Palace, the Tessin Palace and the Oxenstierna Palace. The oldest building in Stockholm is the Riddarholmskyrkan from the late 13th century. After a fire in 1697 when the original medieval castle was destroyed, Stockholm Palace was erected in a baroque style. Storkyrkan Cathedral, the episcopal seat of the Bishop of Stockholm, stands next to the castle. It was founded in the 13th century but is clad in a baroque exterior dating to the 18th century.
As early as the 15th century, the city had expanded outside of its original borders. Some pre-industrial, small-scale buildings from this era can still be found in Södermalm. During the 19th century and the age of industrialization Stockholm grew rapidly, with plans and architecture inspired by the large cities of the continent such as Berlin and Vienna. Notable works of this time period include public buildings such as the Royal Swedish Opera and private developments such as the luxury housing developments on Strandvägen.
In the 20th century, a nationalistic push spurred a new architectural style inspired by medieval and renaissance ancestry as well as influences of the Jugend/Art Nouveau style. A key landmark of Stockholm, the Stockholm City Hall, was erected 1911-1923 by architect Ragnar Östberg. Other notable works of these times are the Stockholm Public Library and the Forest Cemetery, Skogskyrkogården.
In the 1930s modernism characterized the development of the city as it grew. New residential areas sprang up such as the development on Gärdet while industrial development added to the growth, such as the KF manufacturing industries on Kvarnholmen located in the Nacka Municipality. In the 1950s, suburban development entered a new phase with the introduction of the Stockholm metro. The modernist developments of Vällingby and Farsta were internationally praised. In the 1960s this suburban development continued but with the aesthetic of the times, the industrialised and mass-produced blocks of flats received a large amount of criticism.
At the same time that this suburban development was taking place, the most central areas of the inner city were being redesigned, known as Norrmalmsregleringen. Sergels Torg, with its five high-rise office towers was created in the 1960s, followed by the total clearance of large areas to make room for new development projects. The most notable buildings from this period is the ensemble of the House of Culture, City Theatre and National Bank at Sergels Torg, designed by architect Peter Celsing.
In the 1980s the planning ideas of modernism were starting to be questioned, resulting in suburbs with a denser planning, such as Skarpnäck. In the 1990s this idea was taken further with the development of and old industrial area close to the inner city, resulting in a sort of mix of modernistic and urban planning in the new area of Hammarby Sjöstad.
The municipality has appointed an official "board of beauty" called "Skönhetsrådet" to protect and preserve the beauty of the city.
Stockholm's architecture provided the inspiration for Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki as he sought to evoke an idealized city untouched by World War. His creation, called Koriko, draws directly from what Miyazaki felt was Stockholm's sense of well-established architectural unity, vibrancy, independence, and safety.
One of the most unusual pieces of "architecture" in Stockholm is the Jumbohostel, housed in a converted Boeing 747 located at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport.
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler