The story of the St. John’s Church (Sankt Johannes Kyrka) I told you in the previous post, describes a long and several times delayed process of building a single church. The result is, without a doubt, monumental, though. Today, in contrast with the previous story, I am going to tell you how many new buildings were built around Stockholm at the turn of the 20th century for the same purpose.
The population of the city was increasing sharply during the second half of the 19th century and, therefore, the requirements on the city’s infrastructure were increasing constantly. This was especially true for the city parts which had previously been on the periphery of the Sweden’s capital such as Norrmalm and even more so Södermalm.
Compulsory education was introduced to Swedish law in 1842. According to the law, there had to be at least one school in every parish. To accommodate all children at school-age, many new schools were constructed at the turn of the 20th century which are commonly known as ‘school palaces.’
As you can see in the images in this post and in the streets of Stockholm, there is a very good reason for why these buildings are called so. It is not only the architectural style they were built in or their monumentality that turned these schools buildings into palaces. It is also the materials used to build them and the quality which made it possible for these schools to stand in their places even more than a century later.
These places show that schools can be more than just functional buildings which you can commonly see around the world. Perhaps reminding us of the long university tradition, these schools are locations with a special atmosphere that shall delight both those who enter their premises and who only walk by.
To illustrate my story, I picked a few of the most monumental ‘school palaces’ in Stockholm which, I believe, will inspire you to discover this topic and perhaps next time you walk by one of these you will pay a closer attention to them and appreciate them more.
Schools Palaces in Norrmalm
Norra Latin was opened in today’s centre of Stockholm in 1880. The building was used as a school for over a hundred years until 1982. As it was the case with other schools at the time, too, it was boys-only until 1961. From the architectural perspective, it is a renaissance palace with the main entrance oriented toward the passage to Drottninggatan. Its back side visible from Vasagatan is perhaps better known, though.
Norra Real is the first of the two twin buildings which were built in different parts of Stockholm with only a year in between their completion. Norra Real which is at Roslagsgatan, close to where Birger Jarlsgatan begins, was inaugurated in 1890. The history of this institution dates back as far as to the 14th century and it, therefore, is the oldest upper-secondary school in the city.
Vasa Real is a school with a rich history which began with Jacob’s School (Jakobs skola) as early as 1659. The building we are interested in, however, was completed in 1926 and stands at Karlbergsvägen close to Vasaparken. Throughout the years, many institutions with different names used this building but today, it is the home of Vasa Real – the school attended by approximately 800 pupils.
School Palaces in Södermalm
Södra Latin near Slussen is the Södermalm’s twin of Norra Real. The school which resides in this building inaugurated in 1891 has a much longer history dating back to 1654. Until 1961 it was only possible for boys to attend this institution, though.
Katarina Södra skola is a school which was first opened in 1888 which makes it the oldest school in eastern Södermalm. The school stands at Katarina Bangata close to Nytorget. It is hard to miss if you are walking around the area thanks to its bright yellow façade that catches your attention even more than 125 years after it was completed. To be fair, the building was renovated in 2005 so that you can now admire it from the schoolyard that surrounds it.
Mariaskolan is one of the most prominent school buildings in the city. In 1893, when it was opened, it was so remarkable that King Oscar II himself visited the school. Within the first fifteen years after the school had been completed the number of pupils increased from around 3000 to almost 4000 and therefore already in 1907 the authorities decided to expand the school by building the current eastern part which was inaugurated in 1911.
Already at the time of completion, the school was equipped with a small swimming pool and a bath. The bath was mainly meant to help improve the school environment as many of the children who attended the school came from deep poverty and had no possibility to care about their hygiene at their homes.
Katarina Norra skola was inaugurated a few years later, in 1895. It is located in the beautiful area right next to Katarina Church’s Cemetery and its red brick façade is not only very nice by itself but it creates a lovely contrast with the bright colours of the nearby church.
According to available sources, we can refer to Sofia skola as to the last of the monumental “school palaces.” It was opened in 1910 only four years after the inauguration of the Sofia Church which sits on the top of the White Mountains and which in a way symbolises the beginning of the better era for the White Mountains borough. At the time of the completion of Sofia skola, it could be seen as another sign of this new beginning.
I hope this post will inspire you to go and explore the schools around Stockholm or in your neighbourhood. As we often see here at Trevl, the stories of pretty much everything in the world are often more enlightening than one would dare to think. As a final hint, I recommend you to visit school buildings on a weekend or during school holidays as this way you will have more time and comfort for your explorations even though you might miss on the real school atmosphere. It could be a nice city wandering for the coming winter holidays, don’t you think?
On Monday, I am going to bring you more places to explore in Stockholm related to and near the schools on my list. Until then, be sure to check out Trevl on Instagram for amazing pictures coming every day and get Trevl for Android to discover all of the great places and stories the world has to offer.