The Royal Kingdom of Sweden’s ravishing capital, Stockholm, is unquestionably the world’s smallest big city. In fact, millions of worldwide tourists gather at Stockholm, each year, making it the 2nd most-visited city of the Nordic territory. While I was here, I figured many reasons why Stockholm is the celebrated crown of Sweden. First and foremost, this city is built over 14 islands with 50 connecting bridges. Which means, I was island hopping, all day long, except instead of sailing, I was driving to the most illustrious Swedish islets. The extensive 12th-century archipelago of Stockholm bears an uncanny resemblance with Italian coastlines, resulting in a famed title of the Venice of Northern Europe.
I feel this comparison is restricted to canals, and the ochre-coloured homes surrounding it. Rest of Stockholm has its own distinctive style of art, design and architecture. Something that made me inquire about the foundation of the city! It turns out that Stockholm was found in the twelfth-century by a Swedish statesman, Birger Magnusson. Born to Ingrid Ylva, Birger Magnusson was the great-grandson of the King Sverker I of Sweden. You will find his face sculpted inside the Varnhem Church. Although, He was a Norse Chief, meaning a Jarl, therefore, he is prominently known as Birger Jarl. Apart from being a Jarl and a statesman, Birger Magnusson was also an active member of the House of Bjelbo. He marshalled the 2nd-Swedish Parade which ended in the consolidation of Sweden, by establishing the Swedish rule in Finland.
Regardless of his background, Birger grew up to become one of the most influential military men of Sweden. While in Stockholm, do pay a visit to the Birger Jarls Torg public square situated in the old town of Gamla Stan. Until mid-19th-century, this square was Riddarholmstorget, after which, it got named after the founder of the city. Coming back to Stockholm, a city that looms over stone age stories, I ceaselessly whizzed between evocative old-world charm, remarkable architecture, yacht culture and evergreen parks. It was an interesting experience to explore the cultural, political, and economic centre of Sweden. A city which is both the world’s smallest big city and the biggest small town.
A trip to the Royal Palace, Nobel Prize venue, a variety of museums, open-air concerts, Globen arena, and the world’s longest art-gallery-subway-station revealed to me the prized cultural heritage of Sweden. What I also admire about Stockholm, is that it is devoid of the heavy industrial spectre. Swedes focus all their energies towards conserving nature and keeping it clean. By the way, Stockholm also owns the title of the World’s cleanest metropolis and well-deserved achievement. It’s refreshing to take a walk in a clean environment that allows inhaling fresh air and sea breeze. Last but not least, you will drool over Stockholm’s UNESCO world heritage sites. Each cloaked with grandeur and regal designs from a bygone era.
Aside from exhibiting a distinct cultural relativism, Stockholm also offers a unique gastronomic culture. Food connoisseurs, get ready to get your palate revived by Smörgåsbord, a Swedish buffet containing meatballs, mini sausages, and cured salmon. To make the commute easy, obtain a 4-day Stockholm pass that will give you access to over 70 world-class attractions, museums, as well as, unlimited rides on public transport. Some of the significant attractions worth paying a visit, are the Town Hall, Stockholm Royal Palace, Vasa Ship Museum, Ericsson Globe Arena and the Absolut Ice Bar. Music lovers must purchase souvenirs of Swedish icons such as Abba, Cardigans or the Roxette.