A little while ago, I wrote a post on public statues in Sweden and especially their long absence in the country. I have also mentioned that while there were literally no public statues displayed in Sweden before the late 18th century, the following two centuries were times during which Swedish artists created an abundant collection of creative sculptures in major as well as smaller cities around the Nordic country.
In this post, I show you a few of the most interesting statues in central Stockholm. Most of them commemorate former reigning monarchs, but you will also find a scientist and one of the most influential people in the history of Sweden who was not a member of a royal family included in the selection.
First on my list is the statue of Queen Christina which is a part of Stockholm City Hall’s façade. While it is true that neither of the two reigning Swedish queens received a free-standing statue, Queen Christina is remembered at least thanks to this small sculpture at the north-western corner of the City Hall. Queen Christina, reigning from late 1632 until her abdication in 1654, was the first of the two female monarchs who have occupied the Swedish throne.
The House of Nobility (Riddarhuset) is surrounded by statues of two of the most important characters in the history of Sweden. On the southern side, in front of the main entrance, you can see the great Gustav Vasa. The statue of the so-called founder-king since he liberated Sweden from the supremacy of King of Denmark Christian II. The work of Frenchman Pierre Hubert L’Archevêque is also the first publicly displayed statue in Sweden as it was inaugurated in 1773.
On the other side of the House of Nobility, in the middle of the park bordered by the two wings, you will find the statue of Count Axel Oxenstierna. I have mentioned Oxenstierna in many earlier posts and for a good reason. He was one of the most influential people in Sweden during the so-called Age of Liberty during which he acted as the Lord High Chancellor of Sweden for over forty years.
Hidden at Branting’s Square (Brantingtorget) between the parliament buildings, there is an interesting statue called Morning (Morgon) from 1962. Apart from the statue, the square itself is an interesting place in the Old Town (Gamla Stan) which goes undiscovered by most visitors and is, therefore a uniquely calm place in the otherwise busy area.
Gustav II Adolf, the father of Queen Christina, did not only receive a statue but an entire square that surrounds it. As you might have guessed, you will find the statue of the king who turned Sweden into a superpower at the beginning of the 17th century at Gustav Adolf’s square just across the bridge from the Royal Palace. The statue was completed in 1791 by the same artist who created the aforementioned statue of Gustav Vasa. To highlight the importance of Axel Oxenstierna, he is also a part of this sculpture standing on its southern part together with Clio, the character from Greek mythology. On the opposite side of the sculpture, there is a Roman armour.
There are various interesting sculptures at Kungsträdgården (King’s Garden). At the southern end of the garden, at Karl XII’s square, there is a statue of Karl XII. The sudden death of this king, whose reign took place during the tough times of the Great Northern War, started the Age of Liberty in Sweden as he had no successors other than his sister Ulrika Eleonora who needed support from the Riksdag of the four Estates to be able to maintain the throne.
Another Karl, Karl XIII, is displayed only a few dozen metres further at Karl XIII’s square and during winter months, his statue creates an elegant artistic attraction in the middle of the popular ice-skating ring. Karl XIII reigned from 1809 to 1818 but was only the formal head of the state during most of this time due to his health condition. It is said that he lost his memory and was unable to communicate during the last few years of his reign.
Another person who received more than a statue was Jöns Jacob Berzelius, a Swedish chemist, a professor at Karolinska Institute and secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Berzelius was also the first Swedish scientist to receive a public statue. The statue itself sits in the middle of the Berzelii Park named after himself. The creation of the park and the statue symbolised an important change in the society of the 19th century. As Swedish press described it, it was a beginning of an era in which the power of a country was not represented by its monarchs, but by free people.
A little further at Djurgården, right in front of the entrance to the breath-taking building housing the Nordic Museum (Nordiska Museet), stands the monumental statue of Karl X Gustav. When you stand close to this monument of the mid-17th-century king sitting on his horse, it is hard to think about anything else than how huge the statue really is. Perhaps, the feeling is emphasised by the greatness of the building that you see right behind it.
These were some of my favourite public statues on display in central Stockholm. Of course, there are many more for you to find and admire but these should serve as a good starting point or a recommendation for a quick tour when you do not have too much time.
Stay tuned on Trevl for more stories about and beautiful places in Stockholm. This week, you will have the chance to learn everything there is to know about the largest railway station in the Nordics and later, discover the history of an important part of Stockholm’s infrastructure whose importance you might not fully realise.
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