By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises
Goodbye to old friends, leaving us here in Stockholm, and hello to new guests coming aboard today.
Stockholm is the largest city of Sweden, the capital, and the official residence of the Swedish monarch as well as the prime minister. We begin another cruise here, back for a loop of the Baltic: Tallinn, Saint Petersburg, Helsinki, and Copenhagen. Here’s our itinerary:[whohit]-Stockholm 20Jun-[/whohit]
Stockholm city was founded about 1250 and has been at the country’s military, political, economic, and cultural center for almost all of that time.
Greater Stockholm spreads across fourteen islands on the south-central east coast of Sweden at the mouth of Lake Mälaren.
Stockholm’s core, the Old Town or Gamla Stan, was built on the central island beginning in the mid-13th century.
The city rose to prominence because of the trade with the Hanseatic League and links with Lübeck, Hamburg, Gdańsk, Visby, Reval (today’s Tallinn], and Riga.
In the past few years, the Royal Family has been busy with weddings and baby showers. But they need not worry about running out of space for the in-laws and the sisters, cousins, and aunts.
The Stockholm Palace is the official residence and major royal palace of the Swedish monarchy.
The Royal Palace in the heart of Stockholm. Photos by Corey Sandler
The palace has 609 rooms and is one of the largest royal palaces in the world still in use. Alongside is the Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament.
Out in the country is Drottningholm Palace, the primary residence of the royal family. Commoners can tour the public rooms; in my opinion the classy way to arrive is aboard a century-old steamer that runs from near City Hall. Photos by Corey Sandler
Stockholm has an extraordinary collection of museums, about one hundred of them.
The National Museum of Fine Arts is in central Stockholm across the harbor from the palace. The museum was founded in 1792, installed in its North Italian Renaissance style building in 1866.
The collection include about half a million drawings from the Middle Ages to 1900, plus porcelain items, paintings, sculptures, and modern art.
The Moderna museet, the Museum of Modern Art, on the island of Skeppsholmen in central Stockholm, opened in 1958. Its collection includes pieces by Henri Matisse, Salvador Dalí and Picasso, but not as many as there were when they were first put on display.
In 1993, life followed art. Burglars came through the roof at night, basically borrowing the technique laid out in the 1955 French movie Rififi. Six works by Picasso and two by Georges Braque were stolen. Only three of the Picassos have been recovered. On the plus side, an Henri Matisse work called “Le Jardin”, stolen in 1987 and worth about $1 million, was recovered in London and returned to Stockholm in 2013.
There’s also the Nordiska Museum, filled with cultural artifacts of Sweden.
The main hall of the Nordiska Museum. Photo by Corey Sandler
In town in the History Museum, with a small but rich history reaching back millennia.
The Historical Museum in Stockholm. Photo by Corey Sandler
But for my money—or yours—the must-see museum in Stockholm, and one of the great exhibitions anywhere in the world, is the Vasa Museum.
When your eyes adjust to the dimly lit hall you see before you the only nearly intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged and put on display.
The extraordinary Vasa Museum. Photos by Corey Sandler
It is the 64-gun warship Vasa, which sank on her maiden voyage in 1628, nearly four hundred years ago. It was one of the largest and most heavily armed warships of her time, decorated with hundreds of sculptures, all of them painted in vivid colors.
Apparently they should have spent just a little bit more, on design and engineering. The ship was top-heavy and did not carry enough ballast down low near her keel.
On August 10, 1628, the ship sailed less than a nautical mile and then fell over and sank.
After then, Vasa was all but forgotten.
It was not until the late 1950s that the ship was found again, in a busy shipping lane just outside the Stockholm harbor. On April 24, 1961 she was brought to the surface, her hull mostly intact.
Thousands of artifacts and the remains of at least 15 people, along with articles of clothing, weapons, cannons, tools, coins, cutlery, food and drink, and six of the ten sails.
The Vasa Museum, constructed specifically for the ship, opened in 1990. Today, it is the most visited museum in Scandinavia.
One of our favorite places in Stockholm, not all that well-known and certainly not crowded, is Hallwyl House. This is the palatial home of Count and Countess Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl, constructed in 1898 as a winter home for the immensely rich couple.
Last year, Stockholm added another museum to its trove of great treasures.
I didn’t say it was a great museum…but that’s just my opinion.
Abba The Museum opened on Djurgaarden island, next to the 17th-century Vasa museum and Skansen.
For better or for worse, the four members of Abba are back together, dressed like they never left the 1970s.
It appears that the group never threw anything away: costumes, instruments, ticket stubs, and hair gel.
Not high culture, but you might want to take a chance on it if your goal is to be a dancing queen. Mama mia! Photos by Corey Sandler
All text and photos copyright 2014 by Corey Sandler. If you would like to purchase a photo please contact me.
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