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Day 4: Södermalm


Södermalm is the large island in the south of the inner city. It is less polished and less touristy than the old town and the centre. It is a residential quarter where ordinary people live their daily lives, work and go shopping. However, it is not without its attractions.

The island has a steep cliff along its northern side that breaks off almost vertically towards the lake shore. The northern side means: towards the old town and city centre – and this means fantastic panoramic views.


It also means that getting there on foot requires some effort. We came by Tunnelbanen and let the escalators at the station carry us up. In former times someone had the brilliant idea to install an elevator that leads from the lakeshore up to the top of the cliff of Södermalm. It was named Katarinahissen after the nearby Katarina Kyrka.

Do not count on using it: The lift has been closed in 2010 and when, and whether ever, it will be reopened is yet unknown. Anyway, it is worth going there from the upper side because (photographers!) of the view from the bridge that leads from the clifftop over to the lift.



In 1909 the first luminous advertisement in the world was installed on top of Katarinahissen. Nothing special to us today but when it was first installed, it must have impressed people a lot. It promotes a toothpaste (the name of which I am not mentioning here;-))

The top of the lift structure is the perfect spot for advertising, visible all over the lake. Later on the ad has been transferred to a nearby rooftop where it still does its job more than a century later.

Nearby on the edge of the cliff, behind Södra Teatern there is an open terrace called Mosebacken that has the next great view. It overlooks the eastern part of the lakes with the islands of Skeppsholmen and Djurgården, Skansen and Gröna Lund lunapark.

There is a beergarden on the terrace. In summer they have outdoor concerts.

This must be a very pleasant spot to spend a summer evening!


Katarina Kyrka



The main church of Södermalm is the majestic baroque Katarina Kyrka, built in 1656 - 1695. Its yellow walls and the high dome are visible from afar across the lake due to the location on top of the cliff.

Disaster struck on May 16, 1990. A fire destroyed the church and affected also the quarter around it. Soon it was decided to rebuild it in its original shape and, as far as possible, in the historical technique, including the preserved parts. Five years later the church could be reinaugurated. So what we see now is a reconstruction.

The church is open in the daytime at free entry. I am grateful that my mates gave me the chance to see it.

Now speaking from the point of view of an art historian who specializes in protestant church architecture: This church is one of the most important baroque Lutheran churches in the whole of Scandinavia, even despite the fact that the present building is not the original. King Carl X. Gustav hired Jean de la Vallee for the project, an architect of French descent. De la Vallee designed, upon the King's request, a centralized building on the ground plan of a greek cross, i.e. a cross with four arms of equal length. The dome emphasizes the centralized shape. Inside, the new table-shaped altar is placed in the middle underneath the dome, not exactly in the geometrical centre, though, but in front of the eastern arm or chancel, while the pulpit is attached to a corner of the crossing. The church has no galleries except for the organ. The 'arm' behind the altar serves as chancel and hosts the frame of the large baroque altarpiece which now contains a modern cross.



We then walked on through random streets with townhouses in various styles, explored a street market, and stopped for lunch at the modern Saluhall mall, where we then indulged into a little shopping spree.



In various locations in Gamla Stan and on Södermalmen we spotted the historical phone boxes that the city of Stockholm has kept to this very day.

Inside they have been equipped with modern telephones, though, and are fully functional just like any other public phone.

I think they look funny, balancing on those four thin legs. The door flaps pretend some privacy but since they are open at the bottom everyone could listen nevertheless.

Good thing is you can see from afar whether a box is occupied, and people won't occupy it too long because they get cold feet quickly.



After lunchtime the sun decided to make a reappearance, much needed because we had been promised a walk along Monteliusvägen. The way there lead through more residential quarters with fine, mostly 19th century, architecture.

I would not mind living there!

The small baroque church of Maria Magdalena and its surrounding churchyard were an eyecatcher.

Ditto Mariatorget with the little park in the middle of the square.

But many side streets have interesting architecture and pretty streetviews.



The view


The footpath along the edge of the cliff of Södermalm offers fabulous views over the islands and waters. The whole panorama of central Stockholm is at your feet: Gamla Stan, Riddarholmen, the city centre, Stadhuset. The changing light, sunshine and beautiful clouds which are so typical for Swedish weather add to the photo opportunities.

This place seems to be popular for wedding photos, too...

Benches invite to sit and rest and enjoy the view. Part of the trail is a wooden boardwalk, other parts a gravel path. Steep stairways led down to Söder Mälarstrand. The trail is easier to reach on foot from the upper side through the pretty side lanes of Södermalm's old quarter, though.

Devote an hour to this walk, and bring the camera…


Zoom views: The new opera house, Jacobs Kyrka, Storkyrkan and Royal Palace


Posted by Kathrin_E 14:40 Archived in Sweden

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