Architecturally, modern Stockholm is one of the finest cities in the world, with broad streets, many parks, and well-planned housing projects. Often called the "Venice of the North," it is built on several peninsulas and islands (including Städsholmen, Riddarholmen, Kungsholmen, and Södermalm islands). Its large bodies of water contribute to a feeling of spaciousness in the city.
Stockholm's most famous landmark is probably the new city hall (1911-23), which faces Lake Mälaren; designed by the Swedish architect Ragnar Östberg, it is an impressive modern interpretation of the characteristic Scandinavian Renaissance style. Also well-known are the large residential districts of cooperative houses that have helped make Stockholm a virtually slumless city.
On Städsholmen, which has retained much of its medieval character, are the Church of St. Nicholas or Storkyrka [great church], dating from the 13th cent.; the Church of St. Gertrude, or the German Church, originally built for the Hanseatic merchants; and several old Hanseatic houses. Also on the island are the Great Square, where the Stockholm massacre began; the Riddarhuset [assembly hall of the nobility], a 17th-century structure in the Dutch Renaissance style and with heroic statues; Tessin Palace (18th cent.); and the Royal Palace, built (1754) in Italian Renaissance style.
Stockholm is the seat of a university (founded 1877), a technical university, a school of economics, and royal academies of music, science, art, and medicine. A Nobel institute is also located there, and the Nobel prizes (except the Peace Prize) are awarded in the city. Also of note are the opera house (opened 1898); the Royal Dramatic Theatre (opened 1908); numerous museums, including the large Skansen open-air museum, a modern art museum (1998), the Vasa Museum (which houses a partially restored 16th cent. warship raised from Stockholm harbor), and the Museum of National Antiquities, with its collection of gold and silver artifacts; and a zoological garden. Stockholm has a lively musical, theatrical, and literary life.
Founded in the mid-13th cent. on the site of a fishing village, Stockholm became an important trade center, dominated by the Hanseatic League (especially Lübeck). In 1520, Christian II of Denmark and Norway proclaimed himself also king of Sweden at Stockholm; a large number of Swedish nobles had gathered to attend the coronation, and Christian instigated the massacre of about 100 of the anti-Danish nobility. The Stockholm massacre led to the successful uprising of Swedes under Gustavus Vasa, who became king of Sweden as Gustavus I (1523-60). Gustavus made Stockholm the center of his kingdom and ended the privileges there of the Hanseatic merchants. Stockholm was made the official capital of Sweden in 1634, about the same time that it became a European intellectual center under Queen Christina, whose court attracted the philosopher Descartes and others. Stockholm's modern industrial development dates from the mid-19th cent.; it grew from a city of about 100,000 inhabitants in 1850 to one of about 300,000 in 1900. The 1912 Olympic games were held there.
City (pop., 2000 est.: city, 750,348; urban agglom.: 1,660,700), capital of Sweden. Built on numerous islands and peninsulas connected by old bridges and modern overpasses, Stockholm is regarded as one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. According to tradition, Swedish ruler Birger Jarl founded Stockholm circa 1250. In the Middle Ages it became Sweden's chief trade port, and in 1436 the capital. After years of conflict between the Swedes and Danes, Gustav I Vasa liberated the city from Danish rule in 1523. It developed rapidly in the mid-17th century as Sweden became a great power, and it was Sweden's cultural centre by the 18th century. It was extensively redeveloped in the 19th century. The second largest port in Sweden (Göteborg being the first), it is the country's leading cultural, commercial, financial, and educational centre.
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