Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 871,952 in the municipality (2010), 1.4 million in the urban area (2010), and over 2.1 million in the 6,519 km2 (2,517.00 sq mi) metropolitan area (2010). As of 2010, the Stockholm metropolitan area is home to approximately 22% of Sweden's population.
Stockholm's strategic location on 14 islands on the coast in the south-east of Sweden at the mouth of Lake Mälaren, by the Stockholm archipelago, has always been historically important. 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.
The strategic and economic importance of the city made Stockholm an important factor in relations between the Danish Kings of the Kalmar Union and the national independence movement in the 15th century. The Danish King Christian II was able to enter the city in 1520. On 8 November 1520 a massacre of opposition figures called the Stockholm Bloodbath took place and set off further uprisings that eventually led to the breakup of the Kalmar Union. With the accession of Gustav Vasa in 1523 and the establishment of a royal power, the population of Stockholm began to grow, reaching 10,000 by 1600.
By the second half of the 19th century, Stockholm had regained its leading economic role. New industries emerged and Stockholm was transformed into an important trade and service centre as well as a key gateway point within Sweden. The population also grew dramatically during this time, mainly through immigration. At the end of the 19th century, less than 40% of the residents were Stockholm-born. Settlement began to expand outside the city limits. The 19th century saw the establishment of a number of scientific institutes, including the Karolinska Institute. The General Art and Industrial Exposition was held in 1897.
Stockholm became a modern, technologically advanced, and ethnically diverse city in the latter half of the 20th century. Many historical buildings were torn down during the modernist era, including substantial parts of the historical district of Klara, and replaced with modern architecture. However, in many other parts of Stockholm (such as in Gamla Stan, Södermalm, Östermalm, Kungsholmen and Vasastan), many "old" buildings, blocks and streets built before the modernism and functionalism movements took off in Sweden (around 1930-1935) survived this era of demolition. Throughout the century, many industries shifted away from work-intensive activities into more high-tech and service industry areas.
Stockholm features a large variety of restaurants. However, dining in Stockholm can be expensive, if you aim for something else than the fast food bars, the run-of-the-mill English-style pubs or the ethnic restaurants that dominate the budget bracket. Be prepared to pay around 175-250 SEK or more for most main courses at quality restaurants. If you are on a tight budget, self-catering is probably the best option.
Most restaurants have "dagens rätt" - a lunch offer, normally including non-alcoholic beverages, bread, butter, salad and coffee M-F, usually 11AM-2PM. Expect to pay between 60-80 SEK. Many Asian, Indian, Mexican and fast food restaurants offer rather cheap "all you can eat" lunch buffets. Office workers usually go for lunch at noon, so try to show up just before, or past 1 PM.
The vast majority of restaurants' kitchens close at 10 PM, even on weekends so it is a good idea to be seated and ready to order early in the evening. Alcohol in restaurants is expensive. A single glass of house wine can cost more than 100 SEK, or 450 SEK for a bottle. Sweden has enforced non-smoking in all bars, pubs and restaurants. Smoking is usually permitted outdoors, or in designated smoking rooms/outdoor seating.
Note that many Stockholm restaurants are closed for vacation for a few weeks in July and/or early August. In December, many restaurants offer an (often rather expensive) "julbord" ("Christmas buffet"), a variation of the classic Swedish smörgåsbord with traditional seasonal dishes such as ham, pickled herring, "lutfisk" (stockfish from cod or ling, prepared with lye) and much more.
As in many other Swedish cities, clubs are quite often arranged illegally and underground outside of the city center. This is because of the notoriously strict liquor and nightlife jurisdiction. Alcohol taxes are high, clubs and bars are legally required to also have a kitchen in order to serve alcohol, clubs and bars must close at certain times and always employ a number of certified security guards in accordance with the closing time and guest capacity. These aspects contribute to the development of a big underground culture in Stockholm. During the summer months, many open air parties are arranged. During fall and winter, there are underground parties in abandoned factories and other industrial buildings, like in many other cities. Some parties are only held once, while others are recurring. These are, naturally, not listed and are often informed of on a word of mouth or online community basis. Generally, such clubs play techno, house and other electronic music, and so, ask locals for advice in legal clubs that play the same genre. The Swedish word for clubs arranged illegally is svartklubb (literally black club).
Sweden is internationally known for its design, and Stockholm has many stores where you can find Swedish-designed clothes, textiles and interior decoration items. Hand-made and hand-painted glassware is also a famous Swedish speciality.
The main shopping street in Stockholm is the wholly pedestrianised Drottninggatan in Norrmalm, dominated by major brands down at theSergels Torg end before giving way to smaller and more specialised shops further north. Drottninggatan is easily reached on the tunnelbanaat T-centralen taking the Sergels Torg exit.
Also connected to Drottninggatan is the square of Hötorget (T-Hötorget). Here is a daily fresh food market outside as well as Hötorgshallen, an indoor market for raw as well as cooked food.
Also accessible from Hötorget station is Stockholm's newest inner city mall, Mood Stockholm on Norrlandsgatan. This mall contains a lot of interesting boutiques not represented elsewhere in the city.
- Sankt Nikolai kyrka (Church of St. Nicholas), most commonly known as Storkyrkan (The Great Church) and Stockholms domkyrka (Stockholm Cathedral), is the oldest church in Gamla Stan, the old town in central Stockholm. It is an important example of Swedish Brick Gothic. Situated next to the Royal Palace, it forms the western end of Slottsbacken, the major approach to the Royal Palace. Storkyrkan was first mentioned in a written source dated 1279 and according to tradition was originally built by Birger Jarl, the founder of the city itself. For nearly four hundred years it was the only parish church in the city, the other churches of comparible antiquity originally built to serve the spiritual needs religious communities (e. g., Riddarholm Church). It became a Lutheran Protestant church in 1527. The parish church since the Middle Ages of the Nikolai parish, covering the whole island on which the Old Town stands, it has also been the cathedral of Stockholm since the Diocese of Stockholm was created out of the Archdiocese of Uppsala and the Diocese of Strängnäs in 1942.
- The Riddarholmen Church is the burial church of the Swedish monarchs. It is located on the island of Riddarholmen. The congregation was dissolved in 1807 and today the church is used only for burial and commemorative purposes. Swedish monarchs from Gustavus Adolphus (d. 1632 AD) to Gustaf V (d. 1950) are entombed here (with exceptions such as Queen Christina who is buried within St. Peter's Basilica in Rome), as well as the earlier monarchs Magnus III (d. 1290) and Charles VIII (d. 1470). It is one of the oldest buildings in Stockholm, parts of it dating to the late 13th century, when it was built as a greyfriars monastery. After the Protestant Reformation, the monastery was closed and the building transformed into a Protestant church. A spire designed by Willem Boy was added during the reign of John III, but it was destroyed by a strike of lightning on July 28, 1835 after which it was replaced with the present cast iron spire.
- The Bonde Palace is a palace in Gamla stan, the old town in central Stockholm. Located between the House of Knights (Riddarhuset) and the Chancellery House (Kanslihuset), it is, arguably, the most prominent monument of the era of the Swedish Empire (1611–1718), originally design by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder and Jean De la Vallée in 1662-1667 as the private residence of the Lord High Treasurer Gustaf Bonde (1620–1667) it still bears his name, while it accommodated the Stockholm Court House from the 18th century and since 1949 houses the Swedish Supreme Court. On the south side of the building is the street Myntgatan and the square Riddarhustorget, while the alleys Riddarhusgränd and Rådhusgränd are passing on its western and eastern sides.
- Nationalmuseum (or National Museum of Fine Arts) is the national gallery of Sweden, located on the peninsula Blasieholmen in central Stockholm. The museum exhibits an impressive art collection due to its benefactors, King Gustav III and Carl Gustaf Tessin. The museum was founded in 1792 as Kungliga Museet("Royal Museum"), but the present building was opened in 1866, when it was renamed the Nationalmuseum. The museum is home to about half a million drawings from the Middle Ages to 1900, prominent Rembrandt and Dutch 17th-century collection, and a collection of porcelain items, paintings, sculptures, and modern art as well. The museum also has an art library, open to the public and academics alike. The current building, built between 1844 and 1866, was inspired by North Italian Renaissance architecture. It is the design of the German architect Friedrich August Stüler, who also designed the Neues Museum in Berlin. The relatively closed exterior, save for the central entrance, gives no hint of the spacious interior dominated by the huge flight of stairs leading up to the topmost galleries. The museum was enlarged in 1961 to accommodate the museum workshops. The present restaurant was instated in 1996.
- Stockholm City Hall is the building of the Municipal Council for the City. It stands on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen island, next to Riddarfjärden's northern shore and facing the islands of Riddarholmen and Södermalm. It houses offices and conference rooms as well as ceremonial halls, and the luxury restaurant Stadshuskällaren. It is the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet and one of Stockholm's major tourist attractions. The construction took twelve years, from 1911 to 1923. Nearly eight million red bricks were used. The dark red bricks, called "munktegel" (monks's brick) because of their traditional use in the construction of monasteries and churches, were provided by Lina brick factory near Södertälje. Construction was carried out by craftsmen using traditional techniques. The building was inaugurated on 23 June 1923, exactly 400 years after Gustav Vasa's arrival in Stockholm. Verner von Heidenstam and Hjalmar Branting held the inaugurational speeches.