The Old Town of Stockholm (Gamla stan) is a place that no visitor to the beautiful Swedish capital should miss. This is the place where you can easily imagine how people, including nobles and royals, lived there centuries ago. While exploring some of the greatest historical palaces and cosiest cafés and restaurants in town, you might want to discover other, subtler elements complementing the atmosphere.

The Old Town of Stockholm (Gamla stan) is a place that no visitor to the beautiful Swedish capital should miss. This is the place where you can easily imagine how people, including nobles and royals, lived there centuries ago. While exploring some of the greatest historical palaces and cosiest cafés and restaurants in town, you might want to discover other, subtler elements complementing the atmosphere.

Places on my list are organised so that you can visit all of them in the given order on a single tour through the historical city centre of Stockholm. Of course, there are many others hidden in the streets of Gamla stan which are not included in the list. You can, therefore, have some fun while searching for them and perhaps exploring which of the common elements they contain, their age and what material they were made of.

1. Tessin Palace

Tessin Palace in Stockholm

Tessin Palace opposite The Royal Palace in Stockholm’s Old Town.

Our tour begins at a palace near the Royal Palace where the architect who designed both of them lived. The Tessin Palace (Tessinska palatset) from the late 17th century was meant to be a clear display of the owner’s personality as Tessin was one of the foremost architects in the country. His own house indeed had to prove it. The entrance that we are most interested in is surrounded by two statues of men that are said to have been inspired by the Palazzo Spada in Rome. As the men at the palace in Stockholm wear coats while those in Rome do not, some say it is the artist’s reference to colder Swedish climate.
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2. Bollhusgränd 3A

Portal at Bollhusgränd 3A in Stockholm

Although the house you will find at Bollhusgränd 3A is significantly less prominent, it is the place where you can see another impressive portal. The inscription above the entrance suggests that it was completed in 1635 together with the palace owned by a member of the Privy Council Per Banér. However, some historians argue that the portal appears to be too big for its current position and that it was likely moved there from another place with a bigger entrance during a reconstruction in the 18th century. This portal is a perfect example of a richly decorated one containing everything from ornaments through coats of arms to animal and human sculptures.
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3. Köpmangatan 2

Right on the corner of Bollhusgränd and Köpmangatan, you will find a simpler portal which clearly shows one of the most popular decorative elements of 17th-century Stockholm. Exotic fruits can be seen on both sides of the portal as well as at the very top right in the middle. The decorated upper part of the portal is from 1675 while the remaining parts are likely slightly younger.
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4. Rosenportalen

Around the next corner, there is Staffan Sasses gränd with the so-called Rosenportalen (Rose Portal) on its furthest end. This is believed to be the oldest portal in Stockholm’s Old Town which means it can take you back in time all the way to the late 1500s. The two roses in the upper corners of the portal are what gave it its name.
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Portal at Bartel House in Stockholm

5. Bartel House (Bartelska huset)

Another massive and abundantly decorated sandstone portal forms the entrance of the Bartel House (Bartelska huset) on the corner of Köpmangatan and Själagårdsgatan. Just like the one at Bollhusgränd, this portal is a typical example of a sandstone portal decorated with ornaments and sculptures. The cartouche above the entrance is unfortunately empty today but the two Roman soldiers, one on each side, have been protecting the house ever since the 1600s.
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6. Southern Bank House

Southern Bank House (Södra Bankohuset) in Stockholm

The next stop is a bit off our path but the portal at the Southern Bank House (Södra Bankohuset), which was the first official residence of the world’s oldest central bank, is worth the trip. Unlike the previous one, this portal is only lightly decorated with lines and smaller ornaments at the top. As a curiosity, you can notice the street number above the entrance which states “No.55”. The city plans have later changed though, and the present-day address of the Bank House is Järntorget 84.
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7. Schantz House (Schantzska huset)

The Big Square (Stortorget) in Stockholm

Not only the portal but the entire façade of the Schantz House (Schantzska huset) at the Big Square (Stortorget) is a beautiful historic heritage. This house shows us how a typical residential building at the Old Town looked in the middle of the 17th century. As this is one of the most famous buildings in Stockholm, the ancient Swedish architecture style arguably remains popular to this day.
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8. Mynttorget 1

Entrance at Mynttorget 1 in Stockholm

Coming back to the Royal Palace from another side, you can admire an entrance which is quite different from all the others you have seen so far. The entrance at Mynttorget 1 is set deeply into the wall and accompanied by a simple number one and a pair of nice lamps. The doors create a beautiful contrast with the building’s façade and appear both massive and elegant at the same time thanks to the dark brown colour and rich metal décor.
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9. Mynttorget 4

Brandkontoret in Stockholm

Only a few metres away, at Mynttorget 4, there is perhaps the most informative of all the portals on my list. It tells you the name of the company which resides in the building, the street number and even the old name of the house and quarter built in the 17th century. The Stockholm City Fire Insurance Company (Stockholms Stads Brandförsäkringskontor) moved to Mynttorget at the beginning of the 1800s which is probably when the portal was made too.
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10. House of Parliament

Parliament House (Riksdagshuset) in Stockholm

The last location on the list resides across the bridge on the Helgeandsholmen island. While the entire building complex known simply as the Parliament House is impressive, its main entrance from Riksplan is one of those particular elements that you should admire. Though it is significantly younger than most of the portals in this post, it certainly deserves your attention. Moreover, it is the biggest one in the Old Town and you would not want to miss that, would you?
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I hope you will get to enjoy your tour around the most interesting portals in Stockholm’s Old. Remember that there is much more to see in these historical streets so keep your eyes wide open at all times.

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