Northeast of the city centre, Lidingö is a well-to-do commuter island, close to the ferry terminal at Värtahamnen serving Finland, Estonia and Latvia. The island’s main attraction is the startling Millesgården, the outdoor sculpture collection of Carl Milles (1875–1955), one of Sweden’s greatest sculptors and art collectors.
Phalanxes of gods, angels and beasts sit on terraces carved into the island’s steep cliffs, many of the animated, classical figures also perching precariously on soaring pillars, which overlook the distant harbour. A huge Poseidon rears over the army of sculptures, the most remarkable of which, God’s Hand, has a small boy delicately balancing on the outstretched finger of a monumental hand. Those who’ve been elsewhere in Sweden may find much of the collection familiar, as it includes copies and casts of originals adorning countless provincial towns.
If this collection inspires, it’s worth tracking down three other pieces by Milles in the capital– his statue of Gustav Vasa in the Nordiska Muséet on Djurgården; the Orpheus Fountain in Norrmalm’s Hötorget; and, out at Nacka Strand (Waxholm boat from Strömkajen), the magnificent Gud på Himmelsbågen, a claw-shaped vertical piece of steel topped with the figure of a boy, forming a stunning entrance marker to Stockholm harbour.