Stockholm is built on 14 islands in Lake Mälaren connected by 57 beautiful bridges. This unique topography divides Sweden’s capital city into easily explored sections, each with its own flavor. There are over 100 museums in Stockholm and a large number of art galleries. While you are in Stockholm, you are never far from museums that make excellent destinations catering to a variety of interests.
The Vasa Museum is one of several that make up the Swedish national maritime museums. This is one of the most visited museums in Sweden. It houses and studies a royal warship of King Gustavus Adolphus, Sweden’s greatest ruler during the Great Power Era of the Swedish Empire. During the time, Sweden’s empire surrounded the entire Baltic Sea. The Vasa was a 65-gun ship built to impressive size and splendor, meant to serve as a symbol for the Swedish Empire. Unfortunately, its construction was rushed and the Vasa had stability problems. It sank less than a mile into its maiden voyage right in the city of Stockholm’s Lake Mälaren. The ship was raised in 1961 and now provides fascinating examples of 17th-century life and technology in Sweden.
The Vasa Museum is on the island of Djurgården and can be reached by the ferry to Galärvarvsvägen. The museum is easily identifiable by the three stylized ship’s masts on the roof, which represent the original height of the fully rigged warship.
Skansen Open-Air Museum
Skansen is a wonderful 70-acre historic park with a recreation of a historic Swedish village, located close to the Vasa Museum on Djurgården. Opened in 1891, it is billed as the world’s first open-air museum. It boasts over 150 buildings from around Sweden arranged into a functioning village.
The depiction is fully furnished with operating industries such as glassblowing and blacksmithing. People are dressed in the clothing of the period and it is authentic down to the place settings on the tables. The commercial district of the village depicts trading practices of those times. Also nearby is a zoo with a comprehensive collection of native animals.
The best way to reach Skansen is by way of the funicular railway that begins at the Hazelius Entrance to the park. The funicular climbs over 120 feet up the hill to the village and represents a good alternative for tourists who find the ascent difficult.
Also on Djurgården is the Nordic Museum, which houses collections, commentary and buildings from every period of Swedish history. The museum offers self-guided audio tours with headsets that explain culture, customs, fashions, household life and traditions from every part of Sweden. This is a great place to come for some insight into Stockholm’s 750-year-old history and a better understanding of Swedish culture in general. There are fantastic collections of jewelry and the largest collection of works by writer and painter August Strindberg, including 19 paintings and an examination of his plays.
The old city center at Gamla stan is a beautifully preserved example of medieval and renaissance-era city square architecture, mostly dating from the 1600s. The shopping and restaurants are seemingly endless and the people are friendly. The Stockholm Cathedral is located here, as are the Nobel Museum and Royal Palace. The Cathedral is Sweden’s national cathedral and houses a 1489 sculpture of St. George and the Dragon, among other pieces. The Royal Palace has several museums, including the Royal Armory, which holds outstanding examples of medieval armor. The changing of the guard at the Palace is a very impressive experience. Located near the palace is the Museum of Medieval Stockholm, with a whole range of interesting artifacts, art and history dating back to the 1250s.
Swedish National Museum
Across the Strömbron Bridge from Gamla stan, northwest of Skeppsholmen, you will find one of the largest and most important museums in Europe. The Swedish National Museum holds more than 16,000 paintings, as well as over 30,000 drawings and art prints. Masters such as Rembrandt, Gaugin, Renoir and Bellini are well represented. Established in 1792, this is one of the oldest museums in the world. The entire first floor is dedicated to practical, embellished and applied art, with items such as thrones, chairs, furniture, tapestries and rugs.
Swedish Museum of National Antiquities
Located on Östermalm, this museum is a must-see for anyone who is curious about the Vikings. The museum has collections that range from the Stone Age through the 1600s. Also known as the Swedish History Museum, it is famous for its Gold Room, with a very large collection of gold artifacts, as well as an extensive study of the Vikings.
While traveling throughout the city, you will often notice many open-air art pieces, along with sculpture parks, all within easy reach of the routes traveled by bus, rail, boat, taxi or foot.
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