The first time I walked through Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town, I was awestruck. That trip to Stockholm was my first visit to a European city. I was filled with wonder at how long this town had been around. I had stepped back in time as I walked amongst buildings that were standing in the early 1300‘s, 1400‘s, 1500‘s; it was absolutely awesome. I loved the beauty of the ornate details, the decorated doorways, and added flourish. I wondered why we no longer added embellishments to our buildings.
10 years later, and I’m still drawn to the quaintly charm of Gamla Stan. Nothing that I notice has changed; with the exception that the last time I was here, it was the middle of winter and this time around it’s a perfect summer day, and it is completely overrun with tourists. Still, it’s worth the visit. Strolling the ancient cobblestone streets, and exploring the narrow passageways, I can almost see how life was in the 1300’s. Much of the original medieval stonework remains behind the visible facades.
The main artery, Västerlånggatan was lined with small shops, and houses on either side in the early 1300‘s, and today it’s still throbbing with crowds and its cobblestone streets are lined with cafes, souvenir stands, boutiques selling traditional Swedish clothing, candy and ice cream shops, and even a 7-11. However, modernity does not take away from the feeling that you’ve immersed yourself in medieval history. This is a place to relax your pace, enjoy a cup of coffee, take a meal at one of the many cafes, eat outdoors, and admire the surroundings. When you’re ready to leave the crowds behind, just walk onto one of the many small streets, and even smaller alleyways. The seclusion makes for excellent photo taking opportunities. Make sure to take the 36 steep steps down through Stockholm’s narrowest alley way – Mårten Trotzigs Gränd. If you stretch out your arms you can touch the buildings on both sides.