The Stockholm Archipelago

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It is a rare city that has 24,000 islands on its footstep and 100km (60 miles) of lake at its heart, but this is Stockholm, the capital of Sweden’s eternal good fortune.

Until the building of the Tunnelbanen (the metro), boats were the only means of getting around these expanses of water, and today boats are still part of Stockholm’s life. Boat operators Waxholmbolaget and Stromma Kanalbolaget transport passengers around the archipelago in a variety of craft, from old coal-fired steamers to modern ferries.

The Stockholm Archipelago
Drottningholm palace is the most popular place in the Stockholm archipelago

The most popular place in the Stockholm Archipelago
The most popular place to visit in the archipelago is the royal palace, Drottningholm Slott on Lovön, to the west of the city. West of Lovön is Björkö, the site of Sweden’s oldest city, Birka, now a Unesco World Heritage site.

The Stockholm Archipelago
The Viking town Birka was where Christianity first came to Sweden

Birka, the Viking Town
Between AD 790 and 975, Birka was the trading center for the 40,000 inhabitants of the rich Mälaren area and the meeting point for traders. This was also where Christianity first came to Sweden, when Ansgar, the Saxon missionary, landed in the 9th century.

Almost nothing is left of Birka above ground, but archeological digs have revealed much of the town’s story. Birka Viking Town features the most recent finds, and Viking based activities in summer add life to the island.

Related: City Break in Stockholm

The Stockholm Archipelago
it’s worthwhile taking the boat to the island suburb of Lidingö to visit Millesgården

Carl Milles and Olga Granner
Although it is now easy to get there by underground train (T-Ropsten) in summer, it’s worthwhile taking the boat to the island suburb of Lidingö to visit Millesgården, the summer home of sculptor Carl Milles and his wife, the Austrian painter Olga Granner. Here, Milles patiently reproduced the statues that had made him more famous in his adopted country of the US than in Sweden. His creations seem to defy gravity, they appear to soar and fly, emphasized by their position on terraces carved from the cliffs.

The Stockholm Archipelago, written by Tor Kjolberg

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