October 9, 2012

Riddarholmen

Palaces surrounding Birger Jarl Square
One of the central islands of Stockholm and, along with Gamla Stan, one of the most historic, Riddarholmen is often overlooked by visitors. Located just adjacent to Gamla Stan, Riddarholmen is the home of some of Stockholm's most beautiful buildings including Riddarholmen Church. The fact that the main central highway separates the two islands may deter visitors, but a bridge over the highway connects them making a visit to Riddarholmen quite easy. The lack of shops, restaurants and cafés also makes it much quieter than neighbouring Gamla Stan. This makes it the perfect place to escape the crowds and soak up some history.
Statue of Birger Jarl, Stockholm's founder
Many Swedish noble families had their palaces here during the 17th and 18th centuries. These days the buildings house the appellate and Supreme courts as well as many Swedish government agencies. The fact that it was the nobility that lived here means that the cobblestone streets are much wider and brighter than Gamla Stan (where the working class lived before Stockholm expanded). There are great views of Stockholm from the waterfront of Riddarholmen... especially the north shore with views of the City Hall.
Riddarholmen Church
The Riddarholm Church dates back as far as the 13th century and is the only remaining medieval monastery church in Stockholm (built originally as a grey friars monastery). It is most famous for being the final resting place of the kings & queens of Sweden up until the 1950's. Every regent from Gustav II Adolf to Gustav V is buried here... with the exception of Queen Christina who is buried in St Peters in Rome. It is also the resting place of many nobles and a few of the medieval kings. It is, unfortunately, only open to the public during the summer months. Another fun, and adventurous, thing to do on Riddarholmen during the warmer months is one of the roof top tours... not for people afraid of heights!

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