Take your Camper Van to Gamla Stan

Posted on 11 October 2011

It seems that every major city in Scandinavia has its own version of an “Old Town” that invariably depicts a fairytale like ambiance with its candy-coloured charming houses lining up winding and narrow cobblestone streets. On snowy wintry days, such district could very well be a scene plucked from an illustrated story book.

View of Gamla Stan across Saltsjön
Photo by Max Anderson , Wikimedia Commons

Stockholm has its very own version of an Old Town, Gamla Stan. The old town is a maze of cobblestone streets that seem to have been designed and built for small people with powerful ankles as the streets are mostly narrow, winding and steep. The earth-coloured buildings in rust, orange, red and cream seem to lean towards each other in complete camaraderie for they have “endured” time and elements since the Medieval Renaissance period. There was a time after WW II when parts of Gamla Stan were demolished due to disrepair. There came a time when Gamla Stan was doomed to be a squatters’ area but sometime in the 1980s the old town was revamped and thereby became a tourist spot. Today there are more than 370 properties in Gamla Stan and on average are about 300 years old.

Gamla Stan is definitely one of the well-preserved and largest late medieval cities in the whole of Europe. The main streets of the old town that cuts across Gamla Stan are Västerlånggatan and Österlånggatan. The old town was once surrounded by a city wall that is now part of Prästgatan. In the middle of Gamla Stan is the oldest street in the city of Stockholm, Stortorget. The narrowest street in the old town is Mårten Trotzigs grand, an alley with a width of 3 feet.
If you are on a leisurely RV trip you should definitely include Stockholm in your itinerary. A stopover in Gamla Stan is a must! Founded in 1252, Stockholm rose from the area that is now occupied in Gamla Stan.

Mårten Trotzigs Gränd,the narrowest alley in the city
Photo by Mastad, Wikimedia Commons

Walking through the streets of Gamla Stan is akin to a walk through a “living” museum. The old town is full of historic sites, attractions, cafés, restaurants, bars and countless curio and souvenir shops. This is the place to source for expertly crafted wooden Vikings, Dalahasten (small wooden painted horses), handcrafted dolls and more. If you are out on a personal shopping spree, there are boutiques and shoe stores that you can visit. The souvenirs and curios are not exactly cheap. If you think you cannot afford to buy souvenirs for back home just have some pictures of you in and around the picture-perfect Gamla Stan.
The Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Museum are situated in Gamla Stan and so are a handful more of museums and churches. The Royal Palace is the “largest” attraction in the old town with its 600 rooms. If you care for pageantry be sure to catch the parade of soldiers and the daily changing of guards.

Enjoy Gamla Stan, Stockholm by foot. Walk around in and out the old town to enjoy its beautiful sights from different vantage points.

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