Day 9. A tour of Sweden’s Parliament

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 .

Universitetet metro station, Stockholm
Mosaic tuled artwork at the Universitetet metro station

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.

Stockholm University campus
Old buildings dotted around the Stockholm University campus

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.

Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm
The Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm

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.

Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm
Main gallery, Swedish Museum of Natural History

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.

Riksdag, Swedish Parliament Building
Entrance to the Riksdag, Swedish Parliament Building

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.

Riksdag, Swedish Parliament Building, Stockholm
Riksdag, Swedish Parliament Building

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.

The Chamber, Swedish Parliament, Stockholm
The Chamber, Swedish Parliament

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.

The Octagonal Second Chamber, Swedish Parliament, Stockholm
The Octagonal Second Chamber, Swedish Parliament

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.

Entrance Hall and Grand Staircase, Swedish Parliament
Entrance Hall and Grand Staircase, Swedish Parliament

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.

Assembly Room, Swedish Parliament
Assembly Room, Swedish 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.

The Grand Gallery,  Swedish Parliament
The Grand Gallery,  Swedish Parliament

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.

Glass Skylight of the Swedish Parliament's Grand Gallery
Glass Skylight of the Swedish Parliament’s Grand Gallery

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.

Bank Hall, Swedish Parliament
The Bank Hall, Swedish Parliament

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.

Stockholm harbour
Late evening view across Stockholm harbour

If you have enjoyed reading this post you may also be interested in the following :

Stockholm’s Royal Palace

Climbing Stockholm’s City Hall Tower

The National Assembly, Seoul

Reichstag Dome, Berlin

Stormont, Belfast

The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh


25 thoughts on “Day 9. A tour of Sweden’s Parliament

  1. The concept of visiting government buildings has rarely occurred to me, though my father took me to the State House of Massachusetts, when I was 13 and I have been on a guided tour of the Texas State Capitol. I have also visited the United States Capitol, on numerous occasions. It is good to know that there are tours available for foreign visitors, of several European government houses.
    I especially like the concept of being seated next to one’s opponent, in the House of Parliament. The word does derive from “to talk; to discuss”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. your travel post is tentalizing ,uging me to follow youin travelling down to Sweden right now. very beautiful description and equally magnificient pictures of their Museum and Parliament ,architecture a symbiosis of modern and ancient .

    if interested go through my posts as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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