Gamla Stan - History and Facts | History Hit

Gamla Stan

Stockholm County, Stockholm County, Sweden

Gamla Stan is the 13th century historical centre of Stockholm, Sweden.

Peta Stamper

02 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan, literally Old Town, is the historical quarter of Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm. Dating back to the 13th century, Gamla Stan was originally called ‘själva staden’ which means ‘the city itself’ and is mostly located on the island of Stadsholmen.

Gamla Stan history

Built from the 13th century, Gamla Stan was made up of a network of cobbled streets, North-Germanic architecture and beautiful open plazas, most notable of which is Stortorget. Stortorget was a square surrounded by merchants’ housing, although it later became the site of the Stockholm Bloodbath, a massacre of noblemen in 1520 ordered by the Danish King Christian II.

Gamla Stan is home to the Kungliga slottet, Sweden’s 18th century Baroque Royal Palace which replaced the medieval Tre Kronor palace that burned down, having stood there since the 13th century. Also from the 18th century, Gamla Stan boasts the oldest continuously operated restaurant with an unchanged environment – Den gyldene freden – which has been in business since 1722.

From the mid-19th century to the early-20th century, Gamla Stan was considered a slum with many of its historic buildings in disrepair. In fact, after World War Two several blocks were demolished to make space for the Riksdag parliamentary building. Yet from the 1970s the area became popular for its medieval and Renaissance architecture and remains a charming tourist district.

Gamla Stan today

Today, the small yet bustling Gamla stan is the site of centuries of history and contains numerous significant attractions beyond those already mentioned, not least of which is Stockholm’s Saint Eric’s Cathedral and the iconic Stockholm Stock Exchange Building in Stortorget.

Another stunning religious site in Gamla Stan is the beautiful medieval church of Riddarholmen, one of Stockholm’s oldest buildings and the burial place of Swedish monarchs. Riddarholmen is near Stockholm’s famous 18th century Royal Palace.

Getting to Gamla Stan

The best way to enjoy Gamla Stan is just by walking around and exploring. Reaching Gamla Stan via public transport is easy: you can get the metro to Gamla Stan station, the 4, 13, 14 and 83 ferries to Stockholm Slussen kajen terminal, or the 2, 57, 76, 96, 191-195 buses to SLottsbacken.

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