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Free Museums to visit in Stockholm (Part 1) – Swedish History Museum and Nobel Museum

30 May 2017

For a visitor to Stockholm, one of the best things to do on days with bad weather would be to visit one or two of the many excellent museums located in town.

Many of these museums offer free entry! Some impose entrance fees on most days but are free to enter at specific day and time only. For example, the Nobel Museum has free admission on Tuesdays,  5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the Nordic Museum (Nordiska Museet) has free entry on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. except June to August.

On this rainy day, we decided to visit the Swedish History Museum (Historiska Museet) in the afternoon. We took the subway to the Karlaplan Station and walked the short distance to the museum in light rain.

Like most museums in Stockholm, there is free lockers to deposit our backpacks containing our wet raingear at the Swedish History Museum.

There are free daily guided tours, conducted in English and Swedish, but we missed them.

The Swedish History Museum is one of the biggest museums in Sweden. In particular, I wanted to see one of the world’s largest Viking exhibits.

Runic stone exhibits at the Swedish History Museum (Historiska Museet) Runic stone exhibits at the Swedish History Museum.


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The Viking age from AD 800 to AD 1050 is a short one, compared to the length of Swedish history. We already had a sneak peek of this period in Swedish history during our visit to Sigtuna, Sweden’s first town where we learned about the runic stones and saw some ruins of medieval churches.  Here, more runic stones could be seen.

There were also displays of the Norse mythology and their belief in life and beyond.

displays of the Norse mythology and their belief in life and beyond

One of the many petroglyphs (picture stones) and scenes of legends associated with the pictures etched on the stones.   One of the many petroglyphs (picture stones) and scenes of legends associated with the pictures etched on the stones.  


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One could spend many hours reading the information (in English and Swedish) next to the displays.

What really fascinated me was the 1:30 scale model representing the Viking age town Birka, in the Björkö island. I had contemplated making a boat trip to visit the island located in the middle of lake Mälaren in Stockholm when planning my itinerary. I was glad I did not make the trip. I think there is more to see and learn about Birka at this exhibit than at Björkö island. I may be wrong.

Model of Birka in AD800.  Photo of Björkö island.  Model of Birka in AD800.  Photo of Björkö island in the back. 


Model of Birka in AD800 with Viking boats were moored at the pier.

The model shows how the town probably looked like in AD800.  There is the main street, running parallel to the shore, and 40 buildings separated by fencing and complete with watch towers. Some Viking boats were moored at the pier.

A good way to end the visit was to have something to eat and drink at the fantastic cafe before heading out to the Nobel Museum that has free admission on Tuesdays,  5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Else, the entry fee is 120 SEK per adult.

The Nobel Museum is located at Stortorget, a small public square in the middle of Gamla Stan. It was still raining slightly when we arrived and the museum was pretty crowded on this Tuesday evening. The Nobel Museum offers daily guided tours in English every day but we chose to wander around freely by ourselves.

The Nobel Museum would allow visitors to learn more about the Nobel Prize, its founder Alfred Nobel, as well as the Nobel Laureates and their creative endeavours. Being an engineer by training, I found some familiar names like Albert Einstein, Neils Bohr, Heisenberg, Röntgen, Marie Curie but struggle to remember the Physics I learnt in school so many years ago.

There were displays of a range of experiments from throughout Nobel history for us to read and in some cases even try our hands on. On this day, the museum was too crowded for me to spend time on these displays.

Instead, I learnt about the life of Alfred Nobel (1833–1896). He is the person who experimented with nitro-glycerine and invented the dynamite although his brother and some others died in explosions during the process. He made a fortune with his invention and also other works.  

On display in the museum are excerpts of the his famous and controversial will. Alfred Nobel wrote in his will that physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace would each year receive a part of the revenues of his fortune. It was not surprisingly that his family opposed the establishment of the Nobel Prize. Also, some of the prize awarders he named refused to do what he had requested in his will!

The Nobel Prize was finally started 5 years later in 1901 and since then, prizes had been given to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind."

Noble Prize Medal – gold coin. at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm

Noble Prize Medal in the form of a gold coin.


Noble Prize Medal – gold coin. at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm

Another Noble Prize Medal in the form of a gold coin.

The Nobel prize ceremonies take place annually in the Stockholm City Hall, Sweden (with the exception of the peace prize, which is held in Oslo, Norway). Each recipient, or laureate, receives a gold medal, a diploma, and a sum of money that has been decided by the Nobel Foundation.

Overall, we had an interesting day at both the Swedish History Museum and Nobel Museum. 

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Hellasgården and walk in the Nacka Nature Reserve

29 May 2017

Hellasgården and walk in the Nacka Nature Reserve

As an outdoor and nature loving couple visiting Stockholm in Spring, we looked forward to visiting the Hellasgården recreational area, located just 20 minutes by bus 401 from Slussen. Hellasgården is located within the Nacka nature reserve.

We did not have much prior information about the various hiking trails in the Nacka nature reserve. An information board at Hellasgården was useful to provide an overview of the options available.

Information board showing the various hiking routes within the Nacka nature reserve.
Information board showing the various hiking routes within the Nacka nature reserve.


Information board showing the various hiking routes within the Nacka nature reserve.Zoomed in portion of the map.


 map marking the hiking or cycling or skiing (winter) routes.Another version of the map marking the hiking or cycling or skiing (winter) trails.


We chose to do the 5 km loop trail, marked by the yellow line on the map. The overlapping green dotted line marks another longer route, extending from the 5 km route; providing options for 7, 10 or 12 km long trails.

The suggested route was to do the trail in an clockwise direction. We did the opposite and went anti-clockwise instead. This was because we wanted to do the longer section of the yellow route first and then decide later if we want to extend our walk when we come to the intersection with the green dotted trail.

The weather was around 16 degree C as forecasted. Slightly breezy, so a wind breaker was needed even though it was sunny. Perfect conditions for a walk in the woods.

Källtorpssjön lake at Hellasgården Checking out the Källtorpssjön lake at Hellasgården before starting our walk. Besides fishing, there are sauna, kayaks, chalets or huts for rental too.


These are the photos taken during the walk.

 Hellasgården and walk in the Nacka Nature Reserve

Hellasgården and walk in the Nacka Nature ReserveInitial part of the walk.


Shortly after we started the walk, the wind breakers were removed as it got warmer once we were in the woods.

We did a slight detour to check out a wooden bridge across the Söderbysjön lake. This bridge is not to be missed as the views from it were beautiful.

Nacka Nature Reserve, StockholmWooden bridge across the Söderbysjön lake.

IMG_6678Views of Söderbysjön Lake on a sunny day.


wooden bridge across the Söderbysjön lake. Enjoying the views from the wooden bridge across the Söderbysjön lake.


After returning to the original trail, we ascended slightly and went close to the cliff overlooking Söderbysjön. This was the place we left the trail and found a spot to have our picnic lunch overlooking the lake.

Tip: it is advisable to pack a picnic lunch and carry sufficient water as there is no food and drinks sold along the trail.

 Nacka Nature Reserve, StockholmPicnic lunch at the cliff overlooking Söderbysjön.


 Cliff overlooking Söderbysjön.

After the slight ascend and descend near Söderbysjön, the rest of the trail was mostly flat and easy to walk. We did not meet many people along this trail, just an occasional cyclist or jogger. I was hoping to spot some wildlife, e.g. a moose would be nice, but no luck.

Hiking at Nacka Nature Reserve.

Coloured paint in yellow, green or white marking the various trails at Nacka Nature Reserve. Coloured paint in yellow, green or white marking the various trails. 

 

The trail is marked with colour paint on the trees. The paint marking is mostly on one side of the trees, aimed at those hiking in the recommended clockwise direction.  We did the opposite, so we did not see most of these markings but it was not easy to get lost.

We took about 2 hours ( including lunch and photo stops) to complete the 5 km loop trail and returned to Hellasgården. Groups were seen having a BBQ by their chalets at Hellasgården.

We rested by the Källtorpssjön lake at Hellasgården for a moment before continuing on a walk on another trail by this lake. There were signs indicating that we were not to disturb any nesting ducks but we did not spot any duck nests despite keeping a lookout for them.

Källtorpssjön lake at Hellasgården Källtorpssjön lake at Hellasgården.

 Duck  snoozing by the lake at Hellasgården. Duck snoozing by the lake at Hellasgården on one leg.

Duck stretching its leg after a snooze.Duck stretching its leg after waking up from its snooze.


This part of the trail had more people, with their dogs.

Adder seen at Hellasgarden, Stockholm, Nacka A small snake, probably an adder, that crossed our path.

A family with a big brown dog created some excitement on an otherwise quiet day. This dog really loves water. It was leaping into the lake with a loud splash, swam around, came up to the shore and then leaped back into the water again. Several times.

 Dog swimming in the lake

It was quite a good swimmer, going quite far out into the lake.

At one point, the dog spotted us and came to check us out. It looked like a big bear was swimming towards me.

Dog swimming in the lake

Then it saw a swimming duck.

Drama by the lake!

 Dog stalking a swimming duckSwimming dog stalking a swimming duck.

Thankfully, the duck could fly and made its escape.

The rocky shores of this lake is perfect for sun tanning.  We recce around the shore for a good place to do some sun tanning ourselves, we chanced upon a group of nude sun bathers. Mostly guys, on a secluded rocky outcrop!

We felt we were intruding into their private space, so we quickly moved off to another spot. We spent the rest of day lazing by the lake, away from the nudists, till evening.

Overall, a great and quiet day out in the Nacka nature reserve, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

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Stockholm’s Tunnelbana Subway Art


My favourite mode of transport during my stay in Stockholm is the subway or Tunnelbana. I have read about the art work, in some form or other, present at 90 of the 100 subway stations in Stockholm prior to my visit.

My first few rides on the subway was focused on getting to my destinations without getting lost. Once familiarised with the subway system, I started to notice the art pieces and captured the images as I used the subway.

No need for fancy camera equipment or settings as the artists and designers did an excellent job of lighting up these stations. These are the images shot with my Samsung phone camera at the various subway stations.

Solna Strand Station

Solna Strand StationEven a set of escalators in the subway could look good on a photo.

The Solna Strand Station is along the Blue line and is not a particularly interesting station in terms of the subway art.  However, the escalators leading to the surface made a nice photo.


Rådhuset (Court House) Station

This station is along the Blue line and used to assess attractions like the Stockholm City Hall (Stadshuset) or Norr Malarstrand.

Rådhuset (Court House) Station subway art

The structures next to the escalators seemed like the builders of the Rådhuset station had uncovered some buildings’ structural footings while digging the cavern for the station. But it is just mimic.

 Rådhuset (Court House) Station with train in blue livery

The cavern in the Rådhuset underground station is painted in reddish clay colour and contrasted nicely with the blue livery of the  Stockholm subway trains.

Look up on the ceilings of the cavern and spot the pair of oversized boots.

Pair of boots on ceiling of Rådhuset Station

Artwork at Rådhuset StationPair of boots on ceiling of Rådhuset Station.


Fridhelmsplan Station

This station is on the interchange between the Blue line and Green line. It is one of the stations with colourful lighted escalators.

Escalators with colourful lights at Fridhelmsplan station. Escalators with colourful lights at some of the station.

This station also featured a glass case displaying a small sailing boat.


Stadion Station

Another station known for its striking colours. Located on the Red line, this station featured a giant underground rainbow with blue skies in the cavern. The rainbow colours are actually based on the Olympic colours.

Stadion Station's artwork of rainbow on blue skies.The Stadion Station is a tribute to the Olympic Games, which were hosted in Sweden in 1912.


Tekniska Högskolan Station

One stop from the Stadion Station, this station on the Red line serves the students of the Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan or KTH).

 Tekniska högskolan Station on the Red line serves the students of the (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan or KTH) University.

Some hi-tech looking art work at paltform of the Tekniska högskolan StationThis dodecahedron represents the four classical elements – fire, air, water and earth.


This dodecahedron represents the four classical elements – fire, air, water and earth.

I was not too surprised to see some hi-tech looking art work in a station near a university known for engineering.


Universitetet

Another station on the Red line that is linked to a local university. I used this station to get to the Stockholm University (Stockholms Universitet), Museum of Natural History (Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet) and the nearby Brunnsviken nature park.

Long piece of mural with many words behind the Universitetet station’s tracks.Long piece of mural with many words behind the Universitetet station’s tracks.

One of the first things that captured my attention was the long piece of mural with many words behind the station’s tracks . This station promotes democracy and human rights and the tiled mural on the wall is based on The UN Declaration of Human Rights.


The tiled mural on the wall is based on The UN Declaration of Human Rights.The tiled mural on the wall is based on The UN Declaration of Human Rights.


The word Respekt (Respect) stands out in black at Universitetet stationThe word Respekt (Respect) stands out in black.


Tiles on the passageway tiles featuring map and images linked with Carl von Linné, a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist.

Tiles on the passageway tiles featuring map and images linked with Carl von Linné, a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist.Tiles on the passageway featuring map and images linked with Carl von Linné, a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist.

The emergency exits at this station is also quite eye catching and functional. Who can miss the obvious exits when in a panic mode.

Emergency exits at the Universitetet station in striking colours.Emergency exits at the Universitetet station in striking colours.


Östermalmstorg Station

Located in the posh district of Östermalms near the city centre, this station features work by artist Siri Derkert. The artwork highlights women's rights, peace and environmental issues.

Östermalmstorg Station features the work of Siri Derkert, one of Sweden’s most famous artists in the 20th century, on the walls by the tracks.

Östermalmstorg Station features the work of Siri Derkert, one of Sweden’s most famous artists in the 20th century, on the walls by the tracks.

Östermalmstorg Station features the work of Siri Derkert, one of Sweden’s most famous artists in the 20th century, on the walls by the tracks.


This looked like the fossil of a fish at the Östermalmstorg Station.

This looked like the fossil of a fish at the Östermalmstorg Station.


Kungsträdgården Station

The starting station on the Blue line, this station is one of my favourites in terms of subway art.

Going down the escalator to the train’s deep underground platform, look up and see the piano keyboard painted on the ceiling.

Going down the escalator of Kungsträdgården Station to the train’s platform deep underground, look up and see the piano keyboard painted on the ceiling.Piano keyboard painted on the ceiling above the escalators of the Kungsträdgården Station.


Once on the track platform, turn back to see the colourful artwork on the walls and ceiling and even the checked tiles on the floor.

colourful artwork on the walls and ceiling and even the checked tiles on the floor.Colourful artwork on the walls and ceiling and even the checked tiles on the floor.

The station features archaeological-like displays on both sides of the walkway leading to the tracks. Resist the temptation to rush to the tracks to board the waiting train and spend some time to admire the artwork.

Kungsträdgården Station  with its checked floor tiles.

Kungsträdgården Station features archaeological like displays on both sides of the walkway leading to the tracks.

Kungsträdgården Station features archaeological like displays on both sides of the walkway leading to the tracks.

Train waiting at the Kungsträdgården Station. the start of the Blue lineTrain waiting at the Kungsträdgården Station. Since this is the start of the Blue line, the train would be waiting till it is time to go.

There are a few other stations that is worth visiting that I have not included in this post.

  • The T-Centralen station (at platform for Blue line) 
  • Solna Centrum (Blue line)
  • Thorildsplan (Green line) – this is an above ground station featuring wall tiles showing Pac Man or video games related images.


Travel Tip:

Check out the free weekly guided art tours of Stockholm’s subway art.

Load the SL Travelcard on the SL Access smart card and enjoy unlimited travel on public transport within Stockholm for the duration of the card. Travelcards are generally the best buy for a visitor who plans to use public transport regularly during the stay.


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