Staircases are certainly one of those things we normally do not really think about. However, that is exactly why Trevl was created – to show you that the things around you, those that you see and meet every day are more interesting than you think. In this post, I will tell you the stories of a few staircases in Stockholm’s Södermalm that have an interesting story behind them and show you a few more that you can explore while wandering around Södermalm.
Söderbergs Staircase (Söderbergs Trappor)
Stockholm is a pretty big city and you will find a lot of stairs and staircases there. This fact alone is not particularly interesting, though. However, one of the staircases has to be the longest, the oldest and the most famous. Well, Söderbergs Staircase is in one of these categories. The staircase is located at the end of Renstiernas gata which goes from below the White Mountains almost all the way to Stadsgården. And Stadsgården is exactly the place where this staircase leads.
For centuries the port in Stadsgården was used for import and export of raw materials and goods. On the other hand, as I have already told you in the story about the White Mountains, the textile industry was important for Southern Stockholm. The area around Katarinaberget was focused specifically on producing socks and tights. Therefore, these were the products that needed to be carried to the port and yarns and cloth were transported the other way around.
Because of the complicated terrain on Södermalm, transporting goods and materials was not always an easy task. To make the way at least shorter, if not also easier, a wooden staircase was built that led from the port to where Katarinavägen and Renstiernas gata meet. Once the materials made it up the stairs, they were then transported along one of these streets to their final destinations – usually areas around Katarinaberget or the White Mountains (Vita Bergen).
Söderbergs family operated a knitting factory in Södermalm for generations. It was Johan Söderberg who lived and worked in the area during the 18th century whose name was given to the new staircase completed in 1907. In the new staircase wood was replaced by stones to build the 144 stairs needed to connect Renstiernas gata with Stadsgården which makes this particular staircase the longest one in Stockholm’s inner city.
Mayors’ Staircase (Borgmästartrappan)
Another example of an original wooden staircase where the stairs were later replaced by more modern stone stairs. Using this one, which was completed in its current form in 1911, you can get from Stadsgården to Katarinavägen. The story behind its name is a rather logical consequence of the past. Originally, the wooden staircase formed a border of the mayor’s land. That is simply why it was called the Mayors’ Staircase. The mayor who lived in the property at the time was Olof Hansson Törne. A successful man born in Köping who sat on many important political posts over the years. Apart from being the mayor, he was also a member of the Parliament, chairman of the College of Commerce (Handelskollegium), and a judge. Olof Hansson was knighted on 8 January 1698 and later introduced to the House of Nobility (Riddarhuset).
Some sources suggest that Borgmästargatan (Mayors’ street) in the Sofia parish on Södermalm was likely named after Olof Hansson’s brother Nils Hansson Törne. Nils Hansson, similarly to his brother, was an influential person in Stockholm politics. He became the mayor in 1699.
The history of mayors in Sweden started in the 13th century with the mayor of Jönköping first appearing in 1288. The tradition itself came from Germany but in the beginning things were different than they are today. Various mayor titles existed in Sweden. Among others, the known mayor titles include Mayor of Trade and Mayor of Construction. The way of electing mayor has also changed during the history. First, the mayors were elected by people, later the king was choosing mayors and now, of course, they are once again elected by the people.
Other Interesting Staircases
Thor Modéen’s Staircase (Thor Modéens Trappor) between Katarinavägen and Södra Teatern on Mosebacke Torg are named after the Swedish actor and comedian Thor Odert Folke Modéen who was active in the theatre from the 1920s to the 19402. The staircase in his memory was opened on 26 November 2003.
Katarina Kyrkobacke is a narrow street in the historical area of Katarinaberget. It leads from the Church of Catherine (Katarina kyrka) to Katarinavägen and at both its ends you will find original staircases. The one between the church and Klevgränd is made of wooden stairs while the other is more modern and therefore made of stone.
Herald Lindberg’s Staircase (Herald Lindbergs Trappor) is a staircase that was named after the Swedish artist Harald Lindberg whose works are available in the National Museum and Moderna Museet among others. The staircase remembering the artist, which connects Katarinavägen and Klevgränd, was opened on the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Remember that these are only a few of many staircases on Södermalm so once you get into the mood you can keep exploring the stories of the others on your own and, perhaps, share them with other if you like.
In the next post, I will show you a few more interesting places to see in Stockholm related to this week’s posts. Later, on Wednesday I am going to tell you what happened in the world-famous Big Square (Stortorget) in Stockholm almost five centuries ago. The first one of these posts is coming out on Monday but we post new photos on Instagram daily so check that out, too.
To discover many more places on your own and to share your favourite locations and stories, get Trevl for Android.
Kallenberg, Lena, 2015. Trappa upp och trappa ner.
Rydberg, Olle, 1984. Se på Söder.