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Stockholm  is located in the southeast of Sweden. It is the country's capital city and is Scandinavia's largest city by population. People have lived in the area since the Stone Age, although the city itself was founded in 1252. Stockholm stands on 14 islands and extending from the city roughly 60 km (37 mi) to the east is the Stockholm Archipelago (skärgård), which contains nearly 30,000 islands. Jump to my photos of Stockholm here.

Surrounded by water, it is one of the most beautiful major cities I have seen. The city is fashionable, modern and vibrant, although the centre still retains a wonderful compact old town of cobbled streets (Gamla Stan).  As you might expect in Scandinavia, the locals are typically very polite and friendly. Naturally, one may find there places to stay that cater for a wide variety of tastes and budgets. My choice was a youth hostel quite like no other I have ever stayed at; in the true maritime style of Stockholm, it was on a ship, the af Chapman.

Being the cultural, media, political, and economic centre of Sweden, there is a considerable number of things to do and see whilst in Stockholm. It would be beyond the scope of this webpage to try and list them and so for further information and perhaps a good starting point, click here. As for this webpage, I will list below a few of the things I did whilst visiting followed by some of my photos of the city:

Abba Exhibition. As well as IKEA, Sven-Göran Eriksson and semi moose-proof cars, one of Sweden's most famous exports was the pop group ABBA. This exhibition was an exciting display held at the Nordic Museum (Nordiska museet), put on in 1999 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of ABBA's Eurovision Song Contest victory with the hit 'Waterloo'. The exhibition was so popular, its one-year run was extended for another year. On display were a collection of the band's costumes, instruments, gold discs and other paraphernalia and also a video to watch. Although this exhibition is no more, the good news for fans wishing to reminisce is that in May 2013, a new exhibition venue opened: 'ABBA: The Museum', located at Djurgården, Stockholm. Website here.

Kaknästornet. TV tower - see my webpage here.

Skansen. If you don't like ABBA, or do and have more time, also on the island of Djurgården is Skansen. Founded in 1891, it is the world’s oldest open-air ethnographical museum. The traditions and rural culture of Sweden are brought together here with furnished houses and farmsteads, gardens, cultivated plots and both wild and domestic farm animals. In essence, the different historical ways of life in the country are represented in miniature. The culture of the Sami people from the north of Sweden is also included in the parkland. Skansen is a pleasure to walk around on a sunny day and it's model as an open air ethnographical museum has been emulated in several other parts of the world. Link here.

City Hall. This is one of Sweden’s most famous buildings. It houses offices including that of the Municipal Council. Inside are ceremonial halls and collections of art. Each December, the building is host to the Nobel Prize banquet. The building's 106-metre tower is popular with visitors. The lift goes half way up (to a museum) and if one is able to walk the rest via staircases and narrow passageways, the reward is a breathtaking view of the city. In essence, the view over towards the old town is one of Stockholm's classic postcard pictures. [Side note: It is sometimes suggested that the design of the City Hall in Norwich, UK, was influenced by this building in Stockholm. Others, though, dismiss this as a myth.]

Vasa Museum. It goes without saying, if I were to list my top five favourite museums I have ever been to before, the Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet) would be the first thought to enter my head. It only opened in 1990 and is a purpose-built maritime museum also located on the island of Djurgården. It houses the Vasa, the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged. The ship has a sparred length of 226 ft, a height of 172 ft, and built to house 64 guns. Construction of the vessel took place in Stockholm between 1626 and 1628 on the orders of the King of Sweden Gustavus Adolphus as part of a programme of military expansion during a war with Poland-Lithuania. Despite the Vasa being unstable due to a high centre of gravity, mounting pressures within the ranks led to her maiden voyage going ahead on 10th August 1628. 1400 yards into the voyage, she foundered and sank. Anything of value was salvaged, although the vessel lay almost forgotten about until she was found again in 1956. In 1961, the savage took place and restoration work, along with a temporary museum led to its final permanent place on show today. The Vasa Museum's main hall contains the ship itself and various archaeological exhibits from the 17th century. Set on six floors, the balconies inside the museum allow for excellent viewing of the vessel from all angles and I found the accompanying displays very informative and stimulating to the imaginative mind. Website here.

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