Not long ago Stockholm wasn’t really on our radar as a destination, then we ended up visiting the Swedish Capital twice within the span of one year.
We have to say we’re glad we did, because the first time was mostly taken up with the more traditional activities one looks for, such as the amazing Smörgåsbord at the world renowned Grand Hôtel…
…or the incredibly preserved ship, the Vasa, that sank while leaving the harbor on its maiden voyage only to become one of the best specimens of shipbuilding from the Age of Exploration to be found anywhere in the world…
…or the luxurious accommodations and cuisine at The Victory Hotel and the Djuret restaurant.
We also stumbled upon some slightly quirky attractions during our explorations, being surprised by the odd assortment of seafood at the Östermalm Food Hall, a huge covered market where members of the royal family are often spotted…
…and by taking a ride to the top of the world’s largest spherical building, the Ericsson Globe.
Since we felt as though we had done the town once, we figured our second pass should be spent seeking out the even stranger side of Stockholm.
As we wandered the narrow cobblestone lanes of the old town, Gamla Stan, we noticed an array of whimsical statues ranging from the somewhat normal, yet mildly amusing, to the fully eccentric, which oddly enough did not seem at all out of place.
One, at the Royal Dramatic Theater, depicts the actress Margaretha Krook standing at the spot she was famous for occupying before each show, while another has the country’s most famed singer and songwriter (at least of any who wasn’t a member of ABBA) Evert Taube in Järntorget , The Iron Square.
Some more peculiar pieces also caught our attention among the wide variety of street art.
Outside of the city’s old central district there was more quirky artwork to be discovered.
Such as the Untitled (standing man) by Sean Henry…
…or one of the weirdest we found, Torso, a sculpture by Dan Wolgers that sits outside of Fotografiska, which is one of the world’s largest centers for contemporary photography.
As is the case in many cities, Stockholm has a statue that is said to bring good fortune if given a rub, so of course we stroked the Järnpojke, or Iron Boy looking at the Moon.
The little guy was sculpted by Swedish artist Liss Eriksson, and at less than six inches high, has been renowned as the smallest statue in Stockholm for over fifty years.
More unconventional art awaited us inside of the Hallwyl Museum. Countess Wilhelmina von Hallwyl set about preserving her home as a museum long before her death and a big part of those preparations included collecting artworks during her worldwide journeys.
The rest of the house / museum is not at all weird, but gives a fine view into the late Victorian period in Sweden, with a look at the lifestyles of the nobility in Stockholm at the time.
Other historic idiosyncrasies revealed themselves as we explored further, such as a story we heard about the Rowing Madams, or Roddarmadam. The ladies, using row boats, ferried people between the fourteen islands that the city is scattered across before bridges were built.
Besides the fact that women were not known to be in the workforce back then, they were also famous for their extensive use of foul, um, shall we say colorful language. Accounts date back over five hundred years, but as Stockholm’s famous fifty-seven bridges were constructed their numbers dwindled, and by the early nineteen hundreds the Madams had disappeared altogether.
Even more ancient were the runestones that we noticed incorporated into the stonework of several buildings in the city. These inscribed rocks are often well over a thousand years old and were originally erected in honor of dead men, not as grave stones, but as memorials.
One thing we know for certain, these remembrances will remain in our memories for many years to come.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com