In this issue of the Places of Interest series, I show you a few exceptional historical places located on the Riddarholmen Island forming a part of the Old Town of Stockholm (Gamla Stan). Riddarholmen is said to have been the place where the first residents of what later became Stockholm settled, which is only one of many curiosities connected to the island.

Riddarholm Church (Riddarholmskyrkan)

Riddarholmen Church (Riddarholmskyrkan) in Stockholm

Let me begin this tour by showing you the Riddarholm Church. The church whose unique tower is one of the most dominant elements in all of the Old Town dates from the late 13th century and as such, it is one of the eldest preserved buildings in Stockholm. For centuries, the Riddarholm Church used to be the last resting place of many Swedish monarchs. In fact, all Swedish reigning monarchs since Gustav II Adolf (1594 – 1632) until Gustav V (1858 – 1950) with the exception of Queen Christina are buried at the church.
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Hessenstein Palace (Hessensteinska Palatset)

Hessenstein Palace in Stockholm

One could argue that Hessenstein Palace is one of the subtler ones in Stockholm and it does not attract as much attention as many other in its proximity. Perhaps it is so, however, its history is connected to many influential figures including members of the Royal Family. The land under the palace had been owned by the Oxenstierna dynasty since the 16th century and the first building was built there in the 1630s by Bengt Bengtsson Oxenstierna.
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Stenbock Palace (Stenbockska Palatset)

Stenbock Palace from Birger Jarl's Square in Stockholm

It was only about a decade later that the next place on my list, the Stenbock Palace, was built. Just like the modern-day design of the previous palace, the looks of the Stenbock Palace as we know it today are attributed to architect Nicodemus Tessin the Older. This beautiful historic site proudly features an unusual, bright-pink façade and although it has gone through many reconstructions and its modern purpose is very different from the original one, it still preserves its 17th-century charm.
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Old National Archives (Gamla Riksarkivet)

Old Swedish National Archives in Stockholm

The Old National Archives of Sweden is one of the more modern buildings on Riddarholmen. Still, it was completed in 1890 and today, it is considered one of the most well-preserved sites from the era. Due to its size having proved to be insufficient early on, the Archives quickly moved to another location, which is why they never had a need to reconstruct the building. Particularly interesting to notice are the tall windows whose design was, at least partially, a consequence of the decision not to install electricity in the building at the time of construction.
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Wrangel Palace (Wrangelska Palatset)

Wrangel Palace in Stockholm

As all the attractions on our little tour, the Wrangel Palace is located only a few metres from the aforementioned Riddarholm Church. It is one of the most massive palaces from the era of the Swedish Empire in Stockholm. In the 1600s, when Wrangel Palace was built, its facades appeared even more impressive than today. The palace had a richly decorated exterior and its terrace on the western side was right on the shores of the Lake Mälaren. Today, the palace houses the Svea Court of Appeal (Svea Hovrätt) and is only one of several buildings on the island used by the judicial branch.
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Evert Taube’s Terrace (Evert Taubes Terrass)

Evert Taube's Terrace in Stockholm

Since the Wrangel Palace is not directly at the edge of the island anymore, there must be something separating it from the water. It is the Evert Taube’s Terrace which belongs to the best places in town for admiring the landscape of the ‘city on the water’ and especially one of its most famous buildings, the Stockholm City Hall (Stockholms Stadshus). Moreover, the terrace is usually a tranquil place ideal for you to get your thoughts straight should you wish to do so.
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Birger Jarl’s Tower (Birger Jarls Torn)

Birger Jarl’s Tower dates back to the first half of the 16th century when it was built as a defensive structure meant to help Gustav Vasa protect the Swedish capital after liberating it from under Danish occupation. While the tower carries the name of Birger Jarl, commonly described as the founder of Stockholm, it has no connection to this historical figure other than the name itself. Most recently, the tower was renovated in 2007 and so, it should be prepared to enchant the atmosphere of the island for years to come.
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Old Parliament House (Gamla Riksdagshuset)

Old Parliament House in Stockholm

As the only attraction included in my list facing the south, it might be easy to miss this part of the island and this beautiful historic site. The Old Parliament House was the first proper seat of the modern Swedish Parliament (Sveriges Riksdag). However, it also used to be the seat of the Parliament’s predecessor, the Riksdag of the Estates which moved in in 1833.
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House of Nobility (Riddarhuset)

Axel Oxenstierna Statue in Stockholm

Truth be told, the House of Nobility (Riddarhuset) is not actually located on Riddarholmen but it is just across the Riddarholmsbron Bridge and so, it would be a great shame to miss it. The palace is by many considered the most beautiful building in the city and it is hard to argue against that. Unlike most of the buildings in the historical city centre, it is free-standing which gives it a prominent position on the city landscape. This prominent feel of the palace is greatly enhanced by its gorgeous design and rich décor.
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Bonde Palace (Bondeska Palatset)

Bonde Palace in Stockholm

The Bonde Palace (Bondeska Palatset) is yet another palace from the most prosperous era of Sweden in the 17th century. It was built as the private residence of the prominent citizen Gustaf Bonde. The palace was, of course, designed by the most famous architects of the time and it hardly goes unnoticed even though it sits right next to the above-mentioned House of Nobility. Today, it houses the Swedish Supreme Court.
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While Riddarholmen might be a small islet, its prominent position in the heart of the historical city centre resulted in its being a location with a dense concentration of beautiful and diverse historic sites. If you are at all interested in history or architecture, I warmly recommend you explore Riddarholmen thoroughly.

If you are hungry for more imposing history in the neighbourhood, check out my Ultimate Guide to the Old Town of Stockholm where you can find all my favourite places in the oldest part of Stockholm.

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