Denmark and Norway are left behind… Welcome to Sweden 🙂 (the full story of the road trip can be found here)
Sweden is the third-largest country in the European Union by area, with a total population of about 9.5 million.
Since the early 19th century Sweden has generally been at peace and has largely avoided war. It is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy form of government and a highly developed economy.
Sweden has the world’s eighth-highest per capita income. In 2013, it ranked second in the world on the Democracy Index, seventh (tied with Ireland) on the 2013 UN Human Development Index (third on the inequality-adjusted HDI), second on the 2013 OECD Better Life Index and third on the 2012 Legatum Prosperity Index.
In 2012, the World Economic Forum ranked Sweden as the fourth-most competitive country in the world. According to the UN, it has the third-lowest infant mortality rate in the world. In 2010, Sweden also had one of the lowest Gini coefficients of all developed countries (0.25), making it one of the world’s most equal countries in terms of income, though not in terms of wealth (wealth Gini coefficient of 0.85, which is higher than the European average of 0.8).
In 2013, The Economist declared that the Nordic countries “are probably the best-governed in the world,” with Sweden in first place. Also in 2013, The Reputation Institute declared Sweden to be the 2nd most reputable country on earth.
Despite the fact that Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, The Economist Intelligence Unit in 2010 listed Sweden in fourth place in its index of democracy among 167 assessed countries. King Carl XVI Gustaf is the current head of state, but royal power has long been limited to ceremonial and representative functions. The nation’s actual legislative body is the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament), with 349 members, which chooses the Prime Minister. Parliamentary elections are held every four years, on the third Sunday of September.
Sweden emerged as an independent and unified country during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, the country expanded its territories to form the Swedish Empire. The empire grew to be one of the great powers of Europe in the 17th and early 18th century.
Most of the conquered territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were lost during the 18th and 19th centuries. The eastern half of Sweden, present-day Finland, was lost to Russia in 1809. The last war in which Sweden was directly involved was in 1814, when Sweden by military means forced Norway into a personal union. Since then, Sweden has been at peace, practicing “non-participation in military alliances during peacetime and neutrality during wartime”.
The Swedish Viking Age lasted roughly between the 8th and 11th centuries. It is believed that Swedish Vikings and Gutar mainly traveled east and south, going to Finland, the Baltic countries, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Black Sea and further as far as Baghdad. Their routes passed through the Dnieper south to Constantinople, on which they carried out numerous raids.
The Byzantine Emperor Theophilos noticed their great skills in war, and invited them to serve as his personal bodyguard, known as the Varangian Guard.
The Swedish Vikings, called Rus are believed to be the founding fathers of Kievan Rus’, and thus of modern Russia. All the Tsars of Russia until the last one, Nicholas II, were of Swedish Viking descent.
The Arab traveller Ibn Fadlan described these Vikings as follows:
“I have seen the Rus as they came on their merchant journeys and encamped by the Itil. I have never seen more perfect physical specimens, tall as date palms, blond and ruddy; they wear neither tunics nor caftans, but the men wear a garment which covers one side of the body and leaves a hand free. Each man has an axe, a sword, and a knife, and keeps each by him at all times. The swords are broad and grooved, of Frankish sort.”
Fun fact: a large number of children inherited the Swedish crown over the course of the kingdom’s existence; consequently real power was held for long periods by regents (notably those of the Sture family) chosen by the Swedish parliament.
In 1520 King Christian II of Denmark, who asserted his claim to Sweden by force of arms, ordered a massacre of Swedish nobles in Stockholm that came to be known as the “Stockholm blood bath” and stirred the Swedish nobility to new resistance. On June 6 (now Sweden’s national holiday, sometimes considered as the foundation of modern Sweden), 1523 they made Gustav Vasa their king.
The Hanseatic League had been officially formed at Lübeck on the Baltic coast of Northern Germany in 1356. It sought civil and commercial privileges from the princes and royalty of the countries and cities along the coasts and, being in possession of its own navy, offered a certain amount of protection, including full riddance of pirates, in exchange.
The privileges obtained by the Hansa included agreement to be free of all customs and taxes and assurances that only its citizens would be allowed to trade from the ports where they were located. With these concessions, Lübeck merchants flocked to Stockholm, where they soon came to dominate the economic life of the city, and made the port city of Stockholm into the leading commercial and industrial. Two-thirds of Stockholm’s imports at the time consisted of textiles and one-third of salt, while exports consisted of iron and copper.
However, the Swedes began to resent the monopoly trading position of the Hansa and income lost to them. Consequently, when Gustav Vasa (Gustav I) broke their monopoly power, he was regarded as a hero, now viewed as the father of the modern Swedish nation. When Sweden began to develop, freed itself from the Hanseatic League, and entered its golden era, the fact that the peasantry had traditionally been free meant that more of the economic benefits flowed back to them rather than going to a feudal landowning class, ensuring greater prosperity to the entire nation rather than to a select few.
Swedes are smart. Tycho Brahe, born in 1546 in an area of present-day Sweden which was then Denmark, made the careful astronomic observations upon which Kepler proved and quantified the heliocentric Copernican solar system.
Although it took a while for Sweden to industrialize, it caught up pretty fast and has been going strong ever since. Nowadays it also has the the second-highest in the world percentage of GDP (over 3.5%), public and the private sector combined, allocated to research & development per year.
In the 18th century Sweden’s scientific revolution took off full throttle.
In 1739, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was founded, with people such as Carolus Linnaeus and Anders Celsius as early members. Many of the companies founded by early pioneers still remain major international brands. Gustaf Dalén founded AGA, and received the Nobel Prize for his sun valve. Alfred Nobel invented dynamite and instituted the Nobel Prizes. Lars Magnus Ericsson started the company bearing his name, Ericsson – still one of the largest telecom companies in the world. Jonas Wenström was an early pioneer in alternating current and is along with Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla credited as one of the inventors of the three-phase electrical system.
The traditional engineering industry is still a major source of Swedish inventions, but pharmaceuticals, electronics and other high-tech industries are gaining ground. Tetra Pak was an invention for storing liquid foods, invented by Erik Wallenberg. Losec, an ulcer medicine, was the world’s best-selling drug in the 1990s and was developed by AstraZeneca. More recently Håkan Lans invented the Automatic Identification System, a worldwide standard for shipping and civil aviation navigation. A large portion of the Swedish economy is to this day based on the export of technical inventions, and many large multinational corporations from Sweden have their origins in the ingenuity of Swedish inventors. Swedish inventors held 41,735 patents in the United States in 2012, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Only ten other countries hold more patents than Sweden.
Random trivia facts about Sweden:
1) As of 2006, it had won 588 (winter and summer) Olympic medals – a feat only excelled by 6 much more populous countries (the USA, the USSR, Italy, France, Germany and the UK).
2) In 2006 Swedes had the longest life expectancy in Europe (80.51 years). As of 2010 they were fifth (80.88 years), overtaken by Switzerland, Italy, Iceland and France.
3) Swedish women have their first child in average at 30 years old – the oldest in Europe along with Ireland and the Netherlands.
4) It has the highest percentage of working mothers in the developed world – 76%.
5) The Swedes spend the longest time in tertiary education with an average student age of 25.5.
6) 40% of women and 32% of men aged 25 to 64 participate in education or training. Compare it to the EU average is 10% for women and 9% for men.
7) It has the highest proportion of personal computers per capita in Europe – 500 per 1,000 people.
8) A 2007 UNICEF report on child well-being in rich countries ranked Sweden as the best country on 3 out of 6 dimensions (children’s material well-being, health & safety, and behaviours & risks), and second best country overall after the Netherlands.
9) As of 2006, it was the most generous country in the world regarding aid to poor countries. It is the only nation where donations exceed 1% of the GDP.
10) The maternity and paternity leave is one of the longest and most generous in the world, allowing the the father and mother to take a shared total of 480 days (16 months) off at 77.6% of their salary.
11) Some of the greatest pop bands and singers, including Abba, The Cardigans, Roxette, Ace of Base, Carola Häggkvist, Army of Lovers, Robyn, A*Teens, Europe and Alcazar, come from Sweden.
12) The astronomical lense is a Swedish invention.
When the headlight went out and we stopped to check on it, there wasn’t anything attention-worthy around, so I just took a picture of a random chopper on the roof…
Probably one of the coziest and more stylish hostel lobbies I’ve ever seen
This babe, while now stationed in harbor, is an actual cruise ship crossing over to Helsinki and other locations back in its days.
The af Chapman, formerly the Dunboyne (1888–1915) – after a town in Ireland – and the G.D. Kennedy (−1923), is a full-rigged steel ship moored on the western shore of the islet Skeppsholmen in central Stockholm, Sweden, now serving as a youth hostel (so you basically get a view of one ship-hostel from another :D).
Its maiden voyage was from Maryport, Cumberland to Portland, Oregon and it subsequently made voyages between Europe, Australia and the west coast of America. On its arrival in Sweden in 1915 the Swedish Navy bought it and renamed it in 1923 after the shipbuilder and Vice Admiral Fredrik Henrik af Chapman (1721–1808). The Navy used it as a training ship and as such it made several trips around the world before serving as a barracks during WW2. Its final voyage was in 1934.
In 1947 the Stockholm City Museum saved the ship from being broken up, and since 1949 af Chapman has been managed by the Svenska Turistföreningen (STF, Swedish Tourist Association).
The beating heart
It was very foggy in the morning when we rushed to the station. Unfortunately, we were in too much of a hurry to capture more images of the awakening city, so this is the only relatively foggy one…
Stockholm’s medieval Cathedral, aka the Church of Saint Nicholas, best known as Storkyrkan (The Great Church) was built in 1279. It houses unique objects such as the St George and the Dragon sculpture (1489), the legendary Vädersoltavlan (1535) and Lena Lervik’s sculpture ”Joseph and Mary” (2002).
It is the the oldest building that is still in use in Stockholm, is the residence of the bishop of Stockholm and is a royal coronation, wedding and burial church. Since 1527, the Cathedral has been a Lutheran church. The Church is open to the public and has ceremonies every Sunday.
More random trivia facts about Sweden 🙂 :
1) Sweden has the smallest gender employment-rate gap in the developed world, with only 4% more men in employment than women.
2) With 47% of female parliamentarians (in 2006), it also has the highest proportion of women lawmakers in the world.
3) In 1862, it became the first country to grant suffrage for (married) women, although only for local elections.
4) Sweden is set to become the first country in the world to phase out petrol for biofuel.
5) It has the highest number of nuclear plants per capita, with 10 reactors for 9 million inhabitants.
6) Sweden ranks second in Europe (after Finland) in terms of technological achievement.
7) Founded in Stockholm in 1995, the Metro newspapers has quickly become the world’s leading free newspaper intended for commuters.As of late 2009, there were 56 daily editions in 19 countries in 15 languages across Europe, North and South America and Asia.
8) Sweden has, along with Denmark and Hungary, the highest standard V.A.T. rate in the world (25%).
9) Total taxation in Sweden amount to 54.2 % of GDP, the highest level worldwide.
10) In 2012 the Swedish company Ericsson was the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile telecommunications networks, with 38% of global market share.
11) Sweden has an excellent reputation as a car maker with Volvo and Saab. Scania trucks are also Swedish.
12) The world-famous discount furniture chain IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943.
13) The Swedish company Electrolux holds 28% share of the household appliances market in the world. It owns over 40 brands, including AEG-Electrolux, Zanussi, Eureka and Frigidaire.
14) Europe’s largest shopping mall is the Nordstan in Gothenburg, with approximately 180 shops and 150 offices on 320,000 m².
15) The Stockholm Globe Arena is the world’s largest hemispherical building, with a diameter of 110 meters, an inner height of 85 meters, and a total volume of 600,000 m³. It is also the world’s largest scale model of the Solar System.
An interesting site for a currently neutral nation – reminder of its former empire days.
The areas around the Central Station were under construction and, obviously, one should wear protective helmet while at a construction site…
Central Station ceiling. Turns out there is a by far more interesting piece of art in that building, but as I hadn’t captured a snap of it – I’ll leave it till the next time 🙂
It was finally time for the city tour (although it was probably one of the least informative ones I had so far come across…). It started off well though – with a nice little story of the Stadsholmen island, on which Gamla stan – the old city of Stockholm – can be found. To appreciate the story, keep in mind that Stockholm is sometimes referred to as Venice of the North for its beauty, its buildings and architecture, its abundant clean and open water, and its many parks.
With that in mind, note that if you walk around the island, it is shaped as a small hill. This had a good reason back in the days before actual sewage systems: so that all human waste would be easily flushed and washed off of the island by the rains. Since that little piece of land was very densely populated in its time, this was a crucial design feature.
In addition to keeping the streets relatively clean, however, over the course of many years so much has been washed off off the island that its area eventually increased by 20-30%… So basically a large part of this particular Northern ‘Venetian’ island is made up of feces :).
Clear blue skies
Besides learning that IKEA (and H&M) are Swedish brands, we also heard the story of a beloved Swedish queen Margaret I thus far in the day.
Margaret I (March 1353 – 28 October 1412) was the Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden and founder of the Kalmar Union, which united the Scandinavian countries for over a century. She acted as queen regnant of Denmark, although in those days it was not the Danish custom for a woman to reign.
Margaret was the sixth and youngest child of Valdemar IV of Denmark and Helvig of Schleswig. In 1359 as a six-year year old engaged to the 18-year-old King Haakon VI of Norway as a part of the Nordic power struggle, the goal of the marriage being King Valdemar regaining Scania, which since 1332 had been mortgaged to Sweden. In June 1359, However, Eric “XII” of Sweden, who in 1356 was hailed as king there and had been given dominion over Southern Sweden, died, which meant that the balance of power changed and all agreements between Magnus and Valdemar were terminated, including the marriage contract between Margaret and Haakon.
Later, negotiations were opened between King Magnus and Henry of Holstein about a marriage between Haakon and the latter’s sister Elizabeth. On 17 December 1362 a ship left with Elizabeth, bound for Sweden. A storm, however, saw that she ended up on the Danish island Bornholm, from where Elisabeth was taken to the archbishop of Lund, who declared that the wedding was a violation of church law because Haakon had already been engaged to Margaret.In the end, the wedding was held in Copenhagen on 9 April 1363.
Margaret probably remained in Denmark for a while after the wedding, but was soon taken to Akershus in Oslo Fjord, where she was raised by Merete Ulvsdatter – a distinguished noblewoman.
In the years after Margaret’s wedding Scandinavia saw a series of major political upheavals. A few months after her wedding her only brother, Christopher, Duke of Lolland, died. This meant that Denmark was without an heir to the throne and her father without a male heir. In 1364 the Swedish nobles deposed Magnus Smek and Margaret’s husband King Haakon from the Swedish throne and elected Albert of Mecklenburg as king of Sweden.
Margaret’s first act after her father’s death in 1375 was to procure the election of her infant son Olaf as king of Denmark, despite the claims of her elder sister’s Ingeborg’s husband Duke Henry III of Mecklenburg and their son Albert. He was too young to rule in his own right, and Margaret proved herself a competent and shrewd ruler in the years that followed. On the death of Haakon in 1380, Olaf succeeded him as King of Norway. Olaf died suddenly in 1387, aged 17, and Margaret, who had ruled both kingdoms in his name, was chosen Regent of Norway and Denmark in the following year. She had already proven her keen statesmanship by recovering possession of Schleswig from the Holstein-Rendsburg Counts.
In the meantime, in Sweden mutinous nobles were already in arms against their unpopular King Albert. Several of the powerful nobles wrote to Margaret that if she would help rid Sweden of Albert, she would become their regent. She quickly gathered an army and invaded Sweden. At a conference held at Dalaborg Castle in March 1388, the Swedes were compelled to accept all of Margaret’s conditions, elected her “Sovereign Lady and Ruler”, and committed themselves to accept any king she chose to appoint. On 24 February 1389 Albert, who had called her “King Pantsless” and had returned from Mecklenburg with an army of mercenaries, was routed and taken prisoner at Aasle near Falköping, and Margaret was now the omnipotent mistress of three kingdoms.
Stockholm, then almost entirely a German city, still held out. Fear of Margaret induced both the Mecklenburg princes and the Wendish towns to hasten to its assistance; and the Baltic and the North Sea speedily swarmed with the privateers of the Victual Brothers. The Hanseatic League intervened, and under the Compact of Lindholm (1395), Margaret released Albert on his promise to pay 60,000 marks within three years. Meanwhile, the Hansa were to hold Stockholm as surety. Albert failed to pay his ransom within the stipulated time, and the Hansa surrendered Stockholm to Margaret in September 1398 in exchange for commercial privileges.
It had been understood that Margaret should, at the first convenient opportunity, provide the three kingdoms with a king who was to be a kinsman of all the three old dynasties, although in Norway it was specified that she would continue ruling alongside the new king. In 1389 she proclaimed her great-nephew, Eric of Pomerania, king of Norway, having adopted him and his sister Catherine. In 1396, and Margaret once again assumed the regency during his minority. To weld the united kingdoms still more closely together, Margaret summoned a congress of the three Councils of the Realm to Kalmar in June 1397, and on Trinity Sunday, 17 June, Eric was crowned King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. At 18-year-old Eric was declared of age and homage was rendered to him in all his three kingdoms, although Margaret was the effective ruler of Scandinavia throughout her lifetime.
Margaret recovered for the Crown all the landed property that had been alienated in the troubled times before the reign of Valdemar IV. This so-called reduktion, or land-recovery, was carried out with the utmost rigour, and hundreds of estates fell into the hands of the crown.
Margaret died suddenly of the plague on board her ship in Flensburg Harbor on 28 October 1412. Her sarcophagus, made by the Lübeck sculptor Johannes Junge in 1423, is situated behind the high altar in the Roskilde Cathedral, near Copenhagen. She had left property to the Cathedral on the condition that Masses for her soul would be said regularly in the future. This was discontinued in 1536, during the Reformation, but a special bell is still rung twice daily in commemoration of the Queen.
Hötorget (Haymarket) is a square where, as you may have guessed, the market can be found. Fruits and vegetables are sold during 6 week’s days and flea markets are organized on Sundays. More interesting, however, than the market itself is the building, from the stairs of which the picture was taken…
This weirdly colored blue building smack in the middle of the city is the Concert Hall by architect Ivar Tengbom. More notably than that though – this is exactly where the Nobel Prizes are awarded (except the Peace Prize, awarded by Norway).
As of late 2012, Sweden had obtained 30 Nobel prizes, including 5 for Peace. This is the 5th highest number of laureates in the world, and the highest per capita ratio for any country with over 1 million inhabitants.
The Orpheus Group – a fountain by Carl Milles.
The statue depicts Orpheus descending into Hades to fetch his beloved wife Eurydice. The short summary of this (very stupid, actually, in my view) story that I finally learned in full having seen the opera recently, is the following:
Orpheus’s wife dies. He’s so heartbroken and whiny about it gods can’t stand his tears any more and offer him a chance to get her back. He only needs to descend into the Hades, pacify the souls there to allow him the passage across the river of death, find her and get her out without looking at her or telling her why he can’t do it (reason being, she’d then be lost for SURE sure to death). He does all that. Eurydice – the stupid bitch, really – however, can’t get over the fact that he won’t look at her and goes “man, you no like me no more? Me no pretty? Y u no look at me?” all the time (yeah, like the fact that your dude went into the kingdom of the DEAD to get your ass isn’t a sign enough of affection…).
Now, instead of saying “I can’t tell you anything now, I will once we’re out, let’s go”, he goes all whiny about how difficult it is not to look at his beloved wifie. Roughly 5 meters from the exit to the world of the living he “can’t take it any more” (like, he could all the time she was dead and the whole journey back, but maaaaan those last 5 meters were just the last straw, 4 real!), looks back. She dies. Again – but this time irreversibly. Aaaaand he’s all heart-brokenly sad about it… Seriously, probably the stupidest one of Greek myths, and I love that stuff!!!
Anyway, back to the fountain itself.
Orpheus is the central figure. In Greek Mythology he was considered the greatest of all musicians with an ability to charm all living things and even stones with his lyre music. Here he is depicted on the epic journey to bring back Eurydice from the land of dead, which you already know didn’t really go too well.
Orpheus is surrounded by 8 male and female figures. One of those male figures has Beethoven’s facial features, for he was a symbol of a great, suffering artistic genius to C. Milles .
When Orpheus finally met his own death, the birds wept on the hillside, the trees shed their leaves and the nearby streams were swollen with their own tears. Orpheus’ spirit went down to the Underworld where he FINALLY got back together again with his beloved Eurydice.
The million-dollar man Sven Olof Joachim Palme was a Swedish Social Democratic politician, statesman and prime minister. He was a highly controversial politician that was as much loved as hated, supporter of gender equality and a man who left quite a trail of political change.
For instance, Olof Palme carried out major reforms in the Swedish constitution such as orchestrating a switch from bicameralism to unicameralism in 1969 and in 1975 replacing the 166-year-old Instrument of Government (at the time the oldest political constitution in the world after that of the United States) with a new one officially establishing parliamentary democracy rather than de jure monarchic autocracy, abolishing the Privy Council of Sweden and stripping King Carl XVI Gustav of most rights held even by ceremonial monarchs in Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom.
While walking home from a cinema with his wife Lisbet Palme in the central Stockholm street Sveavägen, close to midnight on 28 February 1986, the couple was attacked by an assassin at this very spot. Palme was fatally shot in the back at close range. A second shot was fired at Lisbet Palme, the bullet grazing her back but not causing serious injury.
The reason why Palme is a million-dollar-man is that this is the official compensation for anyone who would lead to the arrest of his murderer. Many versions and suspects have been named over the years; one drug addict was even arrested but later released. The latest version is that the assassination had been carried out by an operative of the Yugoslavian UDBA who now lives in Zagreb, Croatia, as reported in January 2011 by the German magazine Focus, which cited German interrogation records in connection with another investigation from 2008.
Still, nothing is set in stone, so if you need some money and can’t win a Nobel Prize (which by the way was considered a bit outrageous during the recession and reduced to 800 000$) – here’s your chance :).
Normally people want to look thinner… Whoever constructed this staircase thought it would be fun to do the exact opposite. As one ascends this staircase, one begins to look bigger and bigger, despite the distance! But worry not – it isn’t some magic Alice in Wonderland land – it’s just an optical illusion. The staircase narrows as it reaches up, making it look as if (in proportion to its width), the ascending person is ‘growing’ 🙂
It’s kind of tricky to see the effect from the pictures…
When the WWII, in which Sweden remained neutrality, although had suffered from German occupation, has ended, people poured out into this street to celebrate. Apparently, there is even a pretty famous photo of this celebration. While at it, for a lack of confetti, people were tearing up random pieces of paper and throwing them into the air to accentuate the festive mood.
This would have all been nice and dandy, save for one little detail: most of the houses on that street at the time were accounting offices and other financial institutions… If you’re catching the drift – the papers torn up to shreds and thrown into the air were, therefore, pretty much invoices, contracts and other legal documents… Basically absolutely everyone was happy about the end of the war – except for accountants and, later on, some of their clients…
There is a famous club in this building where the ‘it’ crowd hangs out and gets very drunk – in case you wondered where to go at night :D.
These aren’t statues for a random exhibition but the actual markers that are meant to keep the cars off the sidewalks. Pretty neat!
Part 1 of the building that gave the field of Psychology the term of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. It is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness. The term does not have to apply to a hostage situation, however, and extends to any relationship in which one of those involved exerts power over another and abuses it through violent behavior.
The term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot as “Norrmalmstorgssyndromet” but it became known as “Stockholm Syndrome” abroad. It was originally defined by psychiatrist Frank Ochberg to aid the management of hostage situations.
Part 2. Nowadays it’s a hotel and office building, but it used to be Kreditbanken bank.
Stockholm syndrome is named after the robbery of that bank at Norrmalmstorg square – the exact building you’re now looking at. Several bank employees were held hostage in a bank vault from August 23 to August 28, 1973, while their captors negotiated with police. It was so intense that it was the first criminal event in Sweden covered by live television.
During this standoff, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, rejected assistance from government officials at one point, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal, to the point of forming a human shield in front of them when they were leaving the building to ensure police would not shoot at them.
The story of the negotiations was fairly interesting in and of itself. The main perpetrator was Jan-Erik “Janne” Olsson, at that time on leave from prison. During those days, he made several demands that were rejected, including those for 3 million Swedish Kronor, two guns, bulletproof vests, helmets, and a fast car. The one demand that the officials satisfied (bizarrely) was to bring one of his good friends Clark Olofsson – a repeat offender who had committed several armed robberies and acts of violence, the first committed at the age of 16 – from the prison and into the bank…
Police attempted several ways of overtaking the robbers. A hole was drilled into the vault and a widely circulated picture of Olsson was taken, but shooting inside the vault was given up as risky because ricochet bullets could injure the hostages. Olsson additionally threatened that if gas was used, the hostages would be killed because he tied them by their necks so that the weight of their unconscious bodies would strangle them.
When eventually it became clear that they won’t be walking out of the bank free, the robbers came up with a rather genius plan: they stuffed office envelopes with cash, signed the address of Olssen’s mother on it and spread the filled envelopes into all post boxes of the bank. The clerks have mailed out a significant total sum of money the very next business day and the robbers got it after just a few years behind the bars.
Notably, during the trial Olofsson appealed to the fact that he would have never been involved in the robbery had not the government officials themselves decided to put him into that bank, and wasn’t helping the robbery but just trying to diffuse the situation by keeping everyone calm, so all the charges were dropped. He later met hostage Kristin Enmark several times, their families becoming friends.
Nothing to see here – just a tin one-legged poultry on a city square…
Looks like one fine woman I mentioned earlier… Any guesses? 🙂
The Royal Dramatic Theatre (Swedish: Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern or Dramaten) is Sweden’s national stage for “spoken drama”, founded in 1788. Around one thousand shows are put on annually on the theatre’s eight running stages.
The theatre has been at its present location in the Art Nouveau building at Nybroplan, Stockholm since 1908. The theatre was built by the architect Fredrik Lilljekvist. Famous artists like Carl Milles and Carl Larsson were involved in making the decorations, and some of the interior decorations were made by Prince Eugen.
Jöns Jacob Berzelius was a Swedish chemist considered, along with Robert Boyle, John Dalton, and Antoine Lavoisier, to be one of the founders of modern chemistry.
Berzelius began his career as a physician but his researches in physical chemistry were of more lasting significance. He is especially noted for his determination of atomic weights and a more complete depiction of the principles of stoichiometry, or the field of chemical combining proportions.
This work led to the development of a modern system of chemical formula notation that could portray the composition of any compound both qualitatively (by showing its electrochemically opposing ingredients) and quantitatively (by showing the proportions in which the ingredients were united). In addition, his system abbreviated the Latin names of the elements with one or two letters and applied superscripts to designate the number of atoms of each element present in both the acidic and basic ingredients.
Berzelius himself discovered and isolated several new elements, including cerium (1803) and thorium (1828). He was a strict empiricist and insisted that any new theory be consistent with the sum of chemical knowledge. He developed classical analytical techniques, and investigated isomerism and catalysis, phenomena that owe their names to him. He became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1808 and served from 1818 as its principal functionary, the perpetual secretary.
Berzelius had an effect on biology as well. He was the first person to make the distinction between organic compounds (those containing carbon), and inorganic compounds. The term “protein” was also coined by Berzelius. Berzelius Day is celebrated on 20 August.
The tour had ended with a story that the Royal Palace was so big that the poor person’s job of lighting the candles in its halls never ended because by the time he’d light the last one, the first one would have burned out, although that sounds like a very common tale for big royal residences… After all, the court could well employ 10 such people and avoid the ‘perpetual motion’ trouble a single person would be subject to… So I ran around the rest of the city on my own… (By the way, most of the information in the captions was not from the tour itself…)
The vast majority of Stockholm residents work in the service industry, which accounts for roughly 85% of jobs in Stockholm. The almost total absence of heavy industry (and fossil fuel power plants) makes Stockholm one of the world’s cleanest metropolises.
…Don’t ask me – I don’t know!..
Saint James’s Church (Swedish: Sankt Jacobs kyrka) is a church dedicated to apostle Saint James the Greater, patron saint of travelers – so no wonder I stumbled upon it :D. Although maybe its location had more to do with it, for it is arguably the most central church in the Swedish capital, surrounded by the popular park Kungsträdgården, the Royal Opera, the square Gustaf Adolfs torg; and near Sergels torg, the Royal Palace, and governmental office Rosenbad. It is often mistakenly called St Jacob’s. The confusion arises because Swedish, like many other languages, uses the same name for both James and Jacob. A bust of Swedish tenor Jussi Björling (1911-1960) stands outside.
The church took a long time to complete. As a consequence it includes a wide range of architectural styles, such as Late Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. The building is based on the design of multiple architects over the centuries: Willem Boy (1580–93), Hans Ferster (1635–43), Göran Joshuae Adelcrantz and Carl Hårleman (1723–35), Carl Möller and Agi Lindegren (1893–94).
Only odd people allowed to enter?
Diana Fountain I can be found at the inner yard of Tändstickspalatset – an office building on West Tradgardsgatan 15.
This is on the wall of the building opposite the Matchstick Palace and if anyone knows what a heck it is – let me know 🙂
Get off of me!!!
As opposed to, I dunno – nice coffee? 😀 😀 😀 For all the lovers of coffee with a character 😀
The Church of Saint Clare or Klara Church (Swedish: Klara kyrka). It is located on Klara Västra Kyrkogata in the Klara area in lower Norrmalm. The graveyard, which has had the same location since the 17th century, is almost surrounded by modern buildings.
The convent and church of St. Clare was founded on the site in 1280s. Gustav Vasa had the church and convent torn down in 1527 and construction of the current church started in 1572 under Johan III by architect Willem Boy. The congregation gives out bread and coffee to the homeless, so the graveyard and nearby steps are often occupied by homeless people. Classical concerts are held at midday. Admission is free.
Under the bridge
This pretty little building is no less than International IDEA – Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance – an intergovernmental organization supporting sustainable democracy around the world.
The seat of the Riksdag – Swedish Parliament – at Parliament House (Swedish: Riksdagshuset) on the island of Helgeandsholmen.
The Riddarholmen Church (Swedish: Riddarholmskyrkan) is the burial church of the Swedish monarchs. It is located on the island of Riddarholmen. 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 has been discontinued as a royal burial place in favor of the Royal Cemetery.
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.
Coats of arms of knights of the Order of the Seraphim are in the walls of the church. When a knight of the Order dies, his coat of arms is hung in the church and when the funeral takes place the church bells are rung constantly from 12:00 to 13:00.
Galloping through the Gamla stan (The Old Town) on Stadsholmen island.
Stockholm derives its mythological origin from a dwelling place called Agnefit. As the second element ‘fit’ means ‘moist meadow’, this place was supposedly located on the western shore of today’s Stadsholmen (arguably the only possible location for a meadow at the time). The first element of this name is, explains the historian Snorri Sturluson (1178–1241), derived from King Agne, a presumably mythological king who, in a dim and distant past (around 400 A.D. according to some historians), encamped here after having successfully raided Finland.
His intentions were to marry Skjalf, the daughter of the defeated Finnish chieftain. The young woman, however, tricked him to arrange a celebration including prominent guests which eventually turned into a boozing party, and, while Agne slept, Skjalf had him hung in his gold necklace before escaping.
While the reliability of this story remains disputed, dendrochronological examinations of logs found on Helgeandsholmen just north of Stadsholmen in 1978-1980, concluded these trees were cut down during the period 970-1020, most of them from the later part of that period, and these logs presumably gave the entire city its present name, Stock-holm, “Log-Islet”
The original wall-enclosed city only encompassed the central elevated area of the present old town located between the two long streets — Västerlånggatan and Österlånggatan (i.e. “Western/Eastern Long Street”) — which passed between the shorelines of the era and the eastern and western city walls. That town dates back to the 13th century and consists of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic architecture with strong North German influence.
The restaurant Den Gyldene Freden is located on Österlånggatan. It has been in business since 1722 and according to the Guinness Book of Records is the oldest existing restaurant with an unaltered interior.
Bollhustäppan, a small courtyard at Slottsbacken behind Finska kyrkan, just south of the main approach to the Royal Palace, is home to one of the smallest statues in Sweden, a little boy in wrought iron. The plaque just below the statue says its name “Järnpojken” (“The Iron Boy”). It was created by Liss Eriksson in 1967.
From the mid 19th to the mid 20th century this charming little place was considered a slum, many of its historical buildings left in disrepair, and just after WW2, several blocks together with five alleys were demolished for the enlargement of the Parliament. From the 1980s, however, it has become a tourist attraction as the charm of its medieval, Renaissance architecture and later additions have been valued by newer generations.
Probably one of the best sci-fi bookstore ads ever!
Tyska kyrkan (“German Church”). Located between the streets Tyska Brinken, Kindstugatan, Svartmangatan, and Prästgatan, it is named for standing in the centre of a neighbourhood that in the Middle Ages was dominated by Germans. Officially named Sankta Gertrud (St. Gertrude’s Church), the church is dedicated to Saint Gertrude (626-659), abbess of the Benedictine monastery of Nivelles in present-day Belgium and yet another patron saint of travelers.
Just can’t escape her!
Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, less than a meter wide, is the narrowest alley in the city.
Still much wider than the narrowest streets in Amsterdam and in Prague… 😀
Skeppsbron (Swedish: “The Ship’s Bridge”) is both a street and a quay in Gamla stan, the old town of Stockholm, capital of Sweden, stretching from the bridge Strömbron in front of the Royal Palace southward to Slussen.
The red granite sculpture ‘Sea god’ (Sjöguden) by Carl Milles (1875–1955) found on the quay is from 1913 and depicts a monster with a broad smile pressing a bashful mermaid to his chest. The sculpture is the only of the artist’s many proposals for similar sculptures carried through.
Laivasilta 44 is an office building built in 1910 by director Carl Smith, designed by architect Fredrik Dahlberg.
The ground floor houses one of the city’s oldest restaurants, Zum Franziskaner that has been at the location since the 1840s in the house that was demolished in 1910 to make way for the newer building. Restaurant also preserves valuable art nouveau interiors .
The unique decoration over the main entrance, an angry man’s face and a stylized vulva, has been the subject of queer interest and even gave the house somewhat vulgar nicknames. The high pyramid roof is covered with glazed tiles and crowned by a globe of copper , which is supported by four dolphins.
The house stairwell contains historically valuable Venetian window and wall paintings by Georg Pauli . Laivasilta 44 has been given a blue classification of Stockholm City Museum which means that the property’s heritage value corresponds to the requirements for listed buildings in the Heritage Conservation Act .
A bit less historic but none the less entertaining – one of Stockholm’s club’s decorations 🙂
It sure felt it in the sun!
By the way, did you know that Sweden is SO green that in 2013 it ran out of garbage? Sweden is highly efficient in recycling and burns the rest of the garbage in highly efficient power-plants to produce electricity. Now it may well be possible that other European countries will pay it to take their trash, so it will basically be given a fuel source AND paid to take it :). How brilliant is that? More about it here.
What is it with Swedes and weird statues?
Way to the harbor…
Prepare to embark!
God, our Father, on the Rainbow (1949 – 1995) – in case you couldn’t tell 😀 – by Carl Milles. He resided in the US for many years and proposed this fountain as a tribute to the UN In 1946, when the United Nations was newly founded and its headquarters was planned for Manhattan, New York. Four years later, a 10 ft. high model was presented to Tryggve Lie, the Secretary General, who was in favor of the project, under the condition that financing could be arranged. It was intended as a sculpture in the garden outside the headquarters, with the water from the sculpture cascading into the East River. The sculpture was conceived as a symbol of piece and a salute to the creation of the UN.
After several years of fruitless discussions and efforts to finance the project, and objections from NYC officials regarding the outlet of water into the East River, the project was finally cancelled in 1954 by Dag Hammarskjöld, the new Secretary General and a fellow Swede. It was a tremendous disappointment for Milles, who passed away a year later and was thus denied to see his project realized.
Almost 40 years later, an American sculptor and pupil of Milles, Marshall Fredericks, received the commission to build the sculpture in a newly created office park in Nacka Stand, a suburb of Stockholm, on the waterway into central Stockholm. Finished in 1995, this monumental sculpture stands 18 meters (60 ft.) high. It shows a naked God balancing at the end of an arch, hanging stars in the sky, tossed his way by an angel at the base of the sculpture.
Milles’ design was to have water cascading from the tip of the arch into the water/river, thus completing a semicircle. A silhouette effect, much used by Milles as a design feature, is achieved by placing God on a high arch against the sky. In addition, the cascading water is given a symbolic meaning for life and the Holy Spirit, a connection to Milles’ belief in the eternal life of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, like water, descends to the Earth and then ascends to the sky again in an eternal cycle.
Upcoming: dozens of pictures of the dozens of islets and things around and on them 🙂
Upcoming: a ridiculous number of sunset pictures taken from top deck… Bear with me!
(The select few I have subjected to watching the entire “Charlie the Unicorn” selection up until the YoLo will appreciate the reference…)
The ‘Z’ was so obvious and the right-hand side sort of a ‘K’ shape was close enough, so it didn’t take me too long to find the entire “ZOUK” in that sunset! Can YOU? (hint: look for very small ‘o’ and ‘u’ letters 😀 ).
Final farewell to Stockholm and Sweden after a hectic day… Looking forward to Helsinki!