The City Hall of Stockholm, Stadshuset, is a famous landmark in the city. At the same time, however, it is also linked with Alfred Nobel, as the banquet on the occasion of the awarding of the Nobel Prize takes place here.
We have the opportunity to participate in an exclusive tour of this impressive building.
Already the location of the city hall is extraordinary. It is exposed at the top of the island Kungsholmen and the tower points towards the city center. The city hall houses the seat of the city government and the city parliament. The City Hall of Stockholm was designed by the architect Ragnar Östberg and built between 1911 and 1923 by Kreuger & Tall. Ivan Kreuger was later known as the Swedish match tycoon.
City Hall of Stockholm
Inside you are impressed by the architectural and artistic design of the building, which appears simple from the outside.
We first enter the blue hall, Blå hall, and are surprised that it is not blue. The name comes from the fact that today’s hall was originally planned as an open courtyard, on the model of an Italian Renaissance square, so that the blue sky would have been visible.
During the construction phase, the architect Ragnar Östberg came into the room and saw how the sunlight fell on the brick walls. He then wanted to leave the red brick walls unplastered, and color the room in blue. At the last moment, one decided to leave the brick walls just like they are. But the name was memorized already at this time. Because of the temperatures in Sweden, the hall has been fitted with a ceiling so that it can be used in any weather.
In one corner of the hall stands an organ, which,with its over 10,000 pipes is the largest in Scandinavia.
The great Nobel banquet for 1300 participants, including the Nobel Prize laureates, royals, and guests, is held in the Blue Hall, every year on December 10th. The flower decoration for the banquet comes from San Remo, where Alfred Nobel had spent his last years.
We go upstairs towards the Council Chamber. Before we enter, we see many Swedish awards and decorations, exhibited in showcases of the entrance hall. The municipal council of Stockholm meets every three weeks in the Council Chamber.
At first glance, the dark paneled room does not seem particularly spectacular, as long as you do not look upwards. Instead of a ceiling, you can see the open structure of the impressive roof-top, whose flat surfaces were painted with paintings and ornaments.
Next, we walk through the Prince’s Gallery, Prinsens Galleri, primarily used for the reception of honored guests. The French windows of the Gallery’s south side offer a wonderful view of Lake Mälaren and Södermalm.
On the opposite wall is a fresco called “Stockholm’s Shores”. It was painted by Prinz Eugen, the youngest son of the Swedish King Oscar II. He wanted to show the panorama of Stockholm to those guests who sit with their back to the windows.
We go on and stop in a foyer before a door in order to wait until all participants of our group have gathered.
When it is opened, it releases the view of the Golden Hall (Gyllene salen). The Golden Hall is decorated with approx. 18 million mosaic tiles, which make the hall appear in a unique golden light. The mosaic tiles consist of gold leaf between two glass plates. They were made by the Berlin-based company Puhl & Wagner, at that time the leading company for glass mosaics, after the design of the artist Einar Forseth.
The hall is in the Byzantine style with motifs from the Swedish mythology and legend world. On the front wall of the hall is the ” Queen of Lake Malaren”, a symbolic representation of Stockholm, which is honored by the East and West. It got quite quiet among the participants of the tour because all are impressed. During the Nobel banquet this hall serves as a kitchen and after the dinner, it is reserved for dancing.
City Hall Tower
We did not suspect that a visit to the 106 m high City Hall Tower was also planned. The City Hall Tower was built with 2.5 million bricks. With a total weight of 24.000 tons, it has the double weight of the Eiffel tower in Paris.
We gathered in the arched courtyard of the City Hall. There, our guide Emma asked us if we wanted to climb the 365 steps to the top of the tower by foot or like to use the elevator. Everyone opted for the elevator and it brought us to the Tower Museum.
In a giant cupola room stands the 7.6 m high statue of Erik IX, the patron saint of Stockholm. The statue was designed by the Sandberg brothers and was supposed to stand in the open tower spire. However, Ragnar Östberg finally decided to design the open tower tip as an observation platform.
Besides that, plaster models of different works of art from the Stadshuset can be seen. We reach the viewing platform via endless, narrow aisles, which rise gently on the outer wall of the tower. The viewing platform is 73 m over the sea level and goes around the whole tower. This offers a great panoramic view of the whole of Stockholm and its islands.
In the top of the tower, there are 9 bells. The largest weighs 3,000 kg. The bells strike every hour and at 12 noon and 6 pm they play a tune.
At the top of the tower are the 3 crowns, since the 14th century the national emblem of Sweden. Each crown has a diameter of 2.2 m, is 1.1 m high and weighs 70 kg and is made of gilded copper. They are angled towards the Old Town, Gamla Stan, where Stockholm’s medieval castle stood before it burnt down in 1697.
On the way down from the viewpoint, we take a look at the wooden scaffold of the bell tower. We leave the City Hall of Stockholm with overwhelming impressions, which we wouldn’t have expected.
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Disclosure: We thank Visit Stockholm for the visit. However, all opinions are our own.
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