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Old TownTop 10

The Gamla Stan district is the historic centre of Stockholm. The beautiful old town, surrounded by water, is by far the city’s most important attraction with its winding medieval streets, pastel-coloured houses, the royal castle and magnificent churches and palaces.

Gamla Stan, the oldtown of Stockholm

Those who come for the first time to Stockholm should first of all have a look at the oldtown. A walk through the narrow and winding streets is the perfect start for any visit to Stockholm. The unique location at the water, between the Mälaren and the Baltic Sea explains by itself why Stockholm is also called the “city between the bridges”. As the oldtown is not very big, during a little walk one already passes many landmarks, for example the Stockholm Castle, the Cathedral Church and also the German Church. Also those who were already often in Stockholm will always discover something new in Gamla Stan.

In order to protect the Lake Mälaren from pirate plundering, Birger Jarl had the castle Tre Kronor built in the 13th century on the island Stadsholmen, at the place where today the royal castle is located. Today, Gamla Stan extends over the three islands Stadsholmen, Helgeandsholmen and Strömsborg. Often, the island Riddarholmen is also counted to Gamla Stan, although it is historically and politically an own district.

Stortorget and Storkyrkan

The centre of Gamla Stan is the Stortorget, the oldest square of Stockholm. This is where the Stockholm bloodbath took place in November 1520, when the Danish King Christian II had leading Swedish citizens and nobles beheaded. Stortorget is also home to Stockholm’s Old Stock Exchange, which today houses the Nobel Museum.

Right behind the Nobel Museum, Stockholm’s oldest church rises, the Storkyrkan. Here, already numerous Swedish kings were crowned and here, also the wedding of Princess Victoria took place. Worth seeing inside is especially the medieval sculpture group of St. George with the dragon.

The Stortorget with the Nobel Museum, behind it the Storkyrkan (Photo: Grisha Bruev / Shutterstock.com)

The Royal Castle

On the other side of the Storkyrkan stands the massive Stockholm Castle, built between 1690 and 1750. Numerous rooms of the castle can be visited, and it also houses several museums: the Antique Museum, the Castle Museum, the Treasury and the Royal Armoury. The changing of the guard is particularly popular with tourists.

Shops, bars and restaurants

The medieval network of small streets is broken in the old town by two straight streets, Stora Nygatan and Lilla Nygatan , which were rebuilt after the devastating city fire in 1625. As an extension of Drottninggatan, Stockholm’s main shopping street, Stora Nygatan is lined with tourist shops selling Swedish devotional objects.

Other sights

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

How do I get to Gamla Stan?

  • From the main station you can walk to the old town in about 10 minutes
  • Subway: take the red or green line to Gamla Stan stop
  • What does Gamla Stan mean?

    The literal translation of Gamla Stan is "The old city". The word stan is a colloquial short form of staden (city).