Stockholm City Hall is unusually popular for a government building and is one of Stockholm’s most visited attractions. While it is a functioning government building — including with a city council chamber and supporting offices and staff — it’s most famous as being the venue for the Nobel Prize banquet held on the 10th of December each year.
City Hall is built on the shore of Kungsholmen Island and offers great views of the old sections of the city and Lake Malarenan. The building was constructed between 1911-1923 and was said to be the city’s largest architectural project of the 20th century. The building was designed by noted architect, Ragnar Östberg. More than 8 million bricks were used in its construction and it has many interesting places and spaces.
The tallest feature of City Hall is a 106-meter tower, topped by three crowns representing the Swedish national coat of arms (the symbol dating to the 14th century). The tower is accessible by walking up 365 steps, or using an elevator which takes you half way to the top; the rest is still done by climbing stairs. There’s also museum in the tower. That said, it was a cold drizzly day when I visited and while the views would be spectacular on a clear day, they were not worth the effort on a mediocre weather day (at least to me).
A small park is situated between City Hall and Lake Mälaren’s shore (Stadshusparken). The place is quite lovely and a very popular place to relax and reflect on views of the old city. The park contains several interesting sculptures,
These are all nice attractions, but the main reason large numbers of people visit the facility is to see where the Nobel banquet is held annually. While the awards ceremony is held at the Concert Hall, the Nobel Awards dinner is held in City’s Hall’s Blue Hall and the post-dinner dance in its Golden Hall.
The Blue Hall reminded me of a courtyard with an overhead roof (not a bad idea for this cold climate city). There is nothing blue about the hall, its walls being composed of brownish brick. The architect, Östberg, had originally intended for the space to be painted blue, but after seeing it completed for the first time he changed his mind and left it as constructed, without paint. Still, the name ‘”Blue Hall” stuck.
The oldest organ in Scandinavia is housed in this hall, its 10,270 pipes also making it the largest organ in the region. A grand marble staircase leads from the Blue Hall up to the second floor and, through an interesting doorway, towards the Golden Hall.
By far the most impressive room in City Hall is the Golden Hall. This unique room has more than 18 million gold and glass tiles worked into dozens of mosaics decorating the room’s walls. These Byzantine-styled mosaics feature scenes from Swedish history. A sampling of the mosaics follows below.
You can only explore City Hall on a guided tour. These tours are held daily in Swedish and English at certain hours, so check before you visit. Tickets cannot be reserved or purchased in advance — only in person on the day you are visiting. What you can see on any give day depends on the schedule at City Hall that day, as this is still an actively used government facility. Tours last about an hour and I found it well worthwhile.
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