Sweden // Stockholm //

Kungsträdgården

One block east of St Jakobs kyrka and the Royal Opera House, Norrmalm’s eastern boundary is marked by Kungsträdgården, the most fashionable and central of the city’s numerous parks, reaching northwards from the water as far as Hamngatan. The mouthful of a name literally means “the king’s gardens”, though if you’re expecting perfectly designed flowerbeds and rose gardens you’ll be disappointed – it’s a pedestrianized paved square, albeit in the form of an elongated rectangle, with a couple of lines of elm and cherry trees, and its days as a royal kitchen garden are long gone. Today the area is Stockholm’s main meeting place, especially in summer, when there’s almost always something going on – free music, live theatre and other performances take place on the central open-air stage. There are also several popular cafés: the outdoors one off Strömgatan at Kungsträdgården’s southern edge is popular in spring as a place for winter-weary Stockholmers to lap up the sunshine. In winter, the park is as busy as in summer: the Isbanan, an open-air ice rink at the Hamngatan end of the park, rents out skates.

North of the park, Hamngatan runs east to Birger Jarlsgatan, the main thoroughfare that divides Norrmalm from Östermalm.