From cultural riches to royal legacy, Sweden is where we experienced the best of ancient architecture, luxury lifestyle, extraordinary landscapes and unique innovations of the impossible. And it all began with a short staycation at Stockholm, the Swedish capital city that perfectly frames Swedish stories as if, straight out of a storybook. Wherever we went, a trail of impeccably preserved gabled buildings, enchanting isles, royal antiquities, and narrow-gauged cobblestone streets followed through. However, the best of our memories are from some of the world-class galleries, that foster scintillating Viking treasures or exhibit unmatchable mosaic artwork as found in the rabble-rousing Blue and Golden Halls of the Stockholm City Hall Noble Prize venue.
Stockholm City Hall, beyond a reasonable doubt, is a scandalously rich Swedish venue. And our visit to the legendary Stadshuset (as the locals call it) confirmed as to why this building towers over Stockholm’s grand architecture. We remember it like it was yesterday when we first laid our eyes on Stadshuset casting off pristine orange silhouette in the waters of Kungsholmenstorg strait. What a sight! However, only when we got closer to this 18th-century framework (designed by Swedish architect Ragnar Ostberg), is when we figured that this magnificent Noble prize venue for cultural, academic, and scientific awards is built, from over 8 million bricks. A much grander layout than what we had initially expected!
It was only natural for us to be wowed by the unique architectural perspective, crowned with a golden spire and 3 Royal crowns that epitomize Swedish power. But most importantly, we were exhilarated by the idea that we were at an inspiring venue, graced by noble laureates, and the Royal family on the 10th of December each year. On other days, City Hall welcomes visitors for a guided tour in English between 9 AM to 3.30 PM from May until September. Set up after Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel, the interiors of the Noble Prize venue are an anthology of two courtyards.
To get to these impressively elaborate courtyards, we crossed over the large iron gate painted in black. And on the other side of the gate were the annual Nobel Prize banquet, the Golden Hall of mosaic Gyllene Salen, and Swedish painter Prins Eugen’s fresco depicting the lake view from the hall and the gallery. At first glance, the vastness of the Crayola orange brickwork, with an open ceiling consumed our attention. Then our focus shifted towards the 23 gilded figures which represent different professions important to Stockholm’s history. Who had thought that one day we would be standing in the centre of the Blue Hall and have the pleasure to admire Sweden’s central tools of communication. In spite of the fact, that the Blue Hall lacks the blue colour, the architect’s original design will amaze you with its organ featuring over 10,000 pipes.
After getting a quick look at the Blue Hall, we climbed the regal-marble-staircase leading to the first floor. (This is where our excitement doubled!) The room located above the Blue Hall is the Golden Hall, famous for its golden mosaics. After all, how often do you get a chance to stand in a room which contains nothing less than 10 Kg pure gold? By all means, the grandeur of this ballroom left us startled and speechless! That followed by a golden guided tour, illustrating Sweden’s antiquity through millions of golden mosaics. Designed by the Swedish artist Einar Forseth, the Golden Hall is where they host the annual ball after, the Blue Hall’s Nobel Banquet ceremony.
Although, this ballroom was stone and granite in the eighteenth century. Later sometime, it received an anonymous donation of 300K SEK which, led to its presently-seen transformation. And it’s only for that donation that the Golden Hall houses unrivalled-embellishments, mosaic artwork, and hand-crafted depictions that maximize the scope of cultural celebrations. Each one of the mosaics is the Byzantine portrayal of the Swedish intellectual history. Starting with the southern wall, evincing Stockholm motifs at variance, further succeeded by the imprints of Saint Erik, Tre Kronor castle, Riddarholmen Church, Katarina Elevator, and the Stockholm Harbour.
The northern wall, on the other hand, reveals the Queen of Lake Mälaren effigy. Whether you are here to collect the big award, or to tour the intellectual base of the world’s wisest people, Stadshuset is bound to sweep you away with its National Romanticism and contemporary designs.