Take a walk around Stortorget, a square that has served as one of the city’s main meeting places for 800 years. Swedish for “big square,” Stortorget is a large open square located in historic Gamla Stan. This beautiful square is framed by rows of tall patrician houses, many of which have cafés and gift shops on their ground floors.
The highest point on the island, this square was the site of a marketplace during the Middle Ages.
Although the square appears picturesque today, it was the site of one of the most brutal events in Swedish history. Known as the Stockholm Bloodbath, 82 Swedish dignitaries were beheaded here on the orders of the Danish king Kristian II. According to local legend, if it rains on the anniversary of this massacre, the old stones of the square turn red. Admire the 17th- and 18th-century buildings lining the square and look closely at the gables and inscriptions found on their façades.
Look for the Schantzka Huset, a bright red building adorned with figures of Roman soldiers. Notice the neoclassical columns of Börshuset, the former Swedish Stock Exchange. Börshuset now houses the Nobel Museum, where you can learn about various Nobel prize winners. The Nobel Prize of literature is also announced here.
Spot the Stortorgsbrunnen, an 18th-century monument found at the center of the square. Prior to the construction of this monument, a well stood on this spot, marking it as the center of Stockholm.
Explore the interesting streets and alleys fanning out from this central square. Browse upmarket boutiques for unique gifts and souvenirs. During the holiday season, the square hosts a lovely Christmas market, where you can shop for porcelain ornaments and other festive decorations and try mulled wine and traditional holiday food.
Stortorget is a popular attraction, so it’s best to plan your visit in the morning or evening to avoid crowds. Find it in Gamla Stan, where it’s accessible by metro.
This landmark square is an essential part of any walking tour through Stockholm’s Old Town.