Discover fascinating facts about the history, people and places of the Swedish capital city, Stockholm.
As the cultural, media, political, and economic centre of our neighbours Sweden, Stockholm is a natural choice for a weekend break from Norway. But how much do you know about the Swedish capital?
In this article, we dive into facts about the history, people and places of this fascinating city. Whether you're planning a trip to Sweden or you're just curious, you'll find something to interest you here.
If you are planning a trip to the capital, check out our list of things to do in Stockholm. Meanwhile, on with the facts!
History of Stockholm
1. The city was founded in the 13th century. Stockholm was founded on Stadsholmen island, the location of today's Gamla Stan (old town) district. Brick and stone defensive walls were built to protect the wooden houses and people of the town.
2. People have lived here since the Stone Age. Despite Stockholm as a city not being founded until the 13th century, people have lived in the area for thousands of years. Archaeologists have found stone tools and other items that suggest people lived and/or hunted on the rocky islands about 8,000 years ago. Over time, small farms and villages emerged.
3. Stockholm changed forever during the 16th Century. The 16th century was a period of great change in Stockholm, as the country converted to Protestant Lutheranism. More stone buildings were built, the King introduced new taxes, people moved to the city to work and the military prepared for war.
4. The Stockholm Bloodbath. Almost 100 people, mostly Swedish nobles, were publicly executed in November 1520 under the orders of new Danish King Christian II, making a mockery of his promise of a peaceful transition. The event would go on to end the Kalmar Union and ensure Sweden remained an independent nation.
Read more: Fascinating Facts About Sweden
5. The Vasa warship is famous for its failure. In 1628, the 64-gun Vasa warship sank less than a mile into its maiden voyage. Hundreds of years later, the ship was salvaged almost fully intact. It now takes pride of place at the Vasa Museum.
6. Stockholm hosted the Olympics. In 1912, Stockholm played host to the world's greatest sporting event. But unlike Oslo which played host to the 1952 Winter Olympics, Stockholm hosted the Summer Games. More than 2,400 competitors from 28 nations took part.
People of Stockholm
7. Stockholm is the biggest Nordic city. Bigger than any other city in the Nordic countries, Stockholm's population at the end of March 2022 stood at 980,260. The population of Stockholm county is 2.42 million.
8. One-third of Stockholm residents are immigrants. The city is highly diverse, with just over 331,000 people being of foreign background, according to official statistics. This means being born abroad, or being born in Stockholm to two foreign-born parents.
9. There are more than 16,000 Iraqis living in Stockholm. Iraqis are the biggest foreign-born group living in Stockholm, closely followed by people from Finland. Other large immigrant groups are from Iran, Poland, Somalia, India, Syria and Turkey.
10. A former prime minister was shot dead on the city streets. Swedish prime minister Olof Palme was assassinated shortly after leaving the cinema with his wife on a public street in downtown Stockholm. The incident remained unsolved for many years. In 2020, Swedish prosecutors closed the case even though they believe they know the culprit, who committed suicide 20 years earlier.
11. Martin Beck is the city's most famous police detective. And he's not even real! The fictional detective is the main character in a series of 10 novels by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, who were widely credited with the invention of the Nordic noir genre of crime fiction.
Places of Stockholm
12. Stockholm is built on islands. The city stretches across fourteen islands at the point where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea.
13. The Stockholm archipelago is huge. Around 24,000 islands of all shapes and sizes make up the Stockholm archipelago, an incredibly popular area for summer recreation among the city's residents and tourists. Boat trips run all day throughout the year but are far more popular in the summer.
14. Stockholm County has three UNESCO World Heritage sites. Drottningholm Palace and grounds, the Viking Age sites at Birka and Hovgården, and the woodland cemetery Skogskyrkogården have all been recognised by UNESCO for their historical and cultural value. There are 12 other sites elsewhere in Sweden.
15. Stockholm metro is well known for its art. Often dubbed the world's longest art gallery, most stations on the city's metro system feature murals, sculptures and other art installations. 150 artists have taken part in the project.
16. Södermalm is home to the Stieg Larsson's Millennium series. The gentrified suburb south of the old town was the home base of late crime journalist Stieg Larsson's Millennium series of novels. Made famous by the movie adaptations (including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), the stories draw many fans to Södermalm to check out the locations in person.
Other facts about Stockholm
17. Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm. All Nobel Prize ceremonies aside from the Nobel Peace Prize are awarded in the Swedish capital. Ceremonies and the banquet take place at the Stockholm Concert Hall and Stockholm City Hall. The one exception is the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway.
18. It's not as cold as you think. A Scandinavian capital must be freezing cold, right? Not so much. The average daily mean temperature is only below zero for two months of the year. Snowfall is common between December and March.
19. Stockholm has three top flight football clubs. AIK, Djurgården and Hammarby all play in Allsvenskan, the top level of Swedish football. Games between the teams are often played in a heated atmosphere, with the AIK-Djurgården matches considered the biggest rivalry in Sweden.
20. Stockholm has the biggest stadium in Scandinavia. The national arena (currently called the Friends Arena) seats 50,000 people for football matches and up to 65,000 people for concerts. AIK and the national Swedish football team play at the stadium.
21. Stockholm was Europe's first “green capital”. In 2010, the European Commission chose Stockholm as the first city to be granted its new ‘green capital' status. The city then launched a study visits program in order for other cities to learn from their best practices.