This morning we decided to take the metro out to the Universitetet station on the Red Line where we found tiled artwork dedicated to the travels around the Baltic of the Swedish botanist Carl Von Linné .
We started our tour of the area with a short walk around the campus of Stockholm University which was founded as a college in 1878 and gained university status in 1960. It is one of Europe’s leading research centres in human science and located in Frescati, the world’s first national urban park.
There was little activity around the campus as we had timed our visit with their summer holidays, but we enjoyed a pleasant stroll through the park and admired several small old wooden buildings which had survived re-development.
Approximately ten minutes walk from the university lies Sweden’s largest museum, the Swedish Museum of Natural History. The museum offers free entry so we popped in and after studying the map for a few minutes decided to turn our attention to the section on Swedish nature. This gallery took us through pine forests, mountains, marshland and along the coast where we were able to view animals typical of the environment. We peeped into a bear’s winter den, learnt that Sweden had lynx and wolves and even investigated the inside of an anthill.
It was then back to the metro station and along to Gamla Stan for some lunch and a little rest. For our afternoon activity we had planned an English speaking tour of the Riksdag Swedish Parliament which take place Monday to Friday at 1.00 p.m., 2.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. during the summer recess. Tours are free of charge and are limited to 28 people and are on a first come first served basis.
We arrived outside the parliament building at 1.35 p.m. and joined a short queue under its grand archway. Ten minutes later we were allowed into the building and after airport style security checks we left our bags in lockers but were able to retain our cameras to record our visit. Some people were unlucky and turned away so do try and arrive early to avoid disappointment. We opted for the 2.00 p.m. tour so that if we were unsuccessful we could try again for the last one of the day at 3.00 p.m.
Our tour guide introduced herself and gave us some background information to the building before starting the tour. We learnt that the Riksdag building was inaugurated in 1905 as the previous premises had been outgrown and as more space was required in 1983 it was combined with the old Bank of Sweden building. The Riksdag is the centre of Swedish democracy and where laws and the central government budget are determined.
We were then taken up to the Chamber where we sat in the visitor’s gallery. Inside this modern chamber is where elected representatives debate and make decisions. Our guide explained that the members of the Riksdag sit according to constituency, irrespective of their party affiliations which means that they are often seated next to their opponents.
After opportunities to ask questions and take photos we moved on to the octagonal Second Chamber which still retains its original features from 1905. The Chamber is adorned with wall frescoes and has an ornate glass ceiling dome. Nowadays, it is used by the largest parliamentary party for discussions.
We then followed our guide along numerous corridors to view the impressive entrance hall and grand staircase with its marble columns. It was explained that this staircase is used on various ceremonial occasions and each September by the King for the state opening of parliament.
Continuing, we were led into one of the assembly rooms of the parliamentary committees in the east wing of the building where the committee on finance hold their meetings. Along the walls of this elegant room were tall bookcases containing parliamentary records in bound volumes.
Next, we strolled through the Grand Gallery which is 45 metres in length and is used as a venue for official dinners and receptions. The elaborate glass skylight in the middle is ringed by Sweden’s 24 provincial coats of arms.
We then returned to the West Wing and ended our tour in the Bank Hall just inside it’s main entrance. We were told that this building formerly belonged to the Bank of Sweden and we could see that it still retained original counters from that period. It is now used as a central meeting place in the Riksdag with cafes, media centre and a post office for the delegates use. After thanking our guide for such an informative and interesting tour we returned to the locker room to collect our belongings. Even if you only have limited time during your stay in Stockholm, I would strongly recommend this free tour as it was one of the highlights of our visit along with our tour of the City Hall where the municipal council meet.
It was then back to our apartment for a rest and something to eat before returning to the Rådhuset metro station later in the evening from where we boarded the No.85 Djurgården ferry which is included in the SL Access travel card. The ferry makes several stops but passengers can remain on board for the 30 minute round trip which takes in the sights of City Hall and Gamla Stan (old town). Sitting out on deck at the front of the boat it was a delightful way to view the city in the soft evening light.
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