June 19, 2015

1679 SWEDEN (Stockholm) - High above the Old Town of Stockholm


Stockholm isn't only the capital and largest city of Sweden, but also the most populous city in the  Nordic region, with almost one milion inhabitants. Spread across 14 islands on the coast in the southeast of Sweden, at the mouth of Lake Mälaren, it was founded as a city by Birger Jarl in 1252, to protect Sweden from a sea invasion. The first part of the name (stock) means log in Swedish, although it may also be connected to an old German word (Stock) meaning fortification. The second part of the name (holm) means islet, and is thought to refer to the islet Helgeandsholmen in central Stockholm. The core of the present Old Town (Gamla Stan) was built on the central island next to Helgeandsholmen from the mid-13th century onward.

The city originally rose to prominence as a result of the Baltic trade of the Hanseatic League. The 17th century saw Sweden grow into a major European power, reflected in the development of the city. From 1610 to 1680 the population multiplied sixfold, and in 1634 it became the official capital of the Swedish Empire. In 1710, a plague killed about 20,000 (36%) of the population. After the end of the Great Northern War the city stagnated, but regained its leading economic role in the second half of the 19th century. In the latter half of the 20th century it became a modern, technologically advanced, and ethnically diverse city. In nowadays, approximately 27% of Stockholm's residents are of an immigrant or non-Swedish background.

Gamla stan (The Old Town), until 1980 officially Staden mellan broarna (The Town between the Bridges), consists primarily of the island Stadsholmen. The surrounding islets Riddarholmen, Helgeandsholmen, and Strömsborg are officially part of, but not colloquially included in, Gamla stan. The town consists of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic architecture. North German architecture has had a strong influence in the Old Town's construction. Stortorget is the name of the scenic large square in the centre of Gamla Stan, which is surrounded by old merchants' houses including the Stockholm Stock Exchange Building.

As well as being home to the Stockholm Cathedral, the Nobel Museum, and the Riddarholm church, Gamla stan also boasts Kungliga slottet, Sweden's baroque  Royal Palace, and the House of Nobility (Riddarhuset). The restaurant Den gyldene freden is located on Österlånggatan. From the mid 19th to the mid 20th century Gamla stan was considered a slum, many of its historical buildings left in disrepair, and just after WWII, several blocks together five alleys were demolished for the enlargement of the Riksdag. From the 1980s, however, it has become a tourist attraction as the charm of its medieval, Renaissance architecture and later additions have been valued by later generations.

About the stamp
The stamp, depicting Baltic Hawker, is part of a series with insects,about which I wrote here.

Stockholm - Wikipedia
Gamla stan - Wikipedia

Sender: Mircea Ostoia
Sent from Stockholm (Stockholm / Sweden), on 01.03.2015
Photo: Kjeil Renblad

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