Stockholm’s city hall, situated on the waterfront more or less in the center of town, presents an image of great history and heritage. This belies its real age – only about 100 years old – but the work is impressive. The building is used to conduct the business of the city, of course, with the 101 seat legislative room shown off as part of the tour. But that is, at best, the fourth or fifth more impressive part of the building.
Vying for that top honor are a few other rooms. There is the Blue room, so named because the architect originally wanted to have the walls covered in blue plaster. This is also the largest room, built to look like an Italian piazza, with columns and arches surrounding the great space. The original plans also called for the room to be open at the top so that visitors could enjoy the space under the night sky, however that was scrapped one they realized the weather was not particularly cooperative on that front. This is also the room where the Nobel banquet is held each year.
Adjacent to the Blue room is the Gold room. This one actually lives up to its name, with the walls covered in mosaic that includes gold leaf in the tiles. The history of the city is told through the mosaics, including a massive display at one end showing Stockholm sitting at the crossing between East and West, with the US flag, Eiffel tower and a Native American headdress representing the west while elephants and Istanbul represent the East. It is a bit of a stretch, but I give them credit for trying.
My personal favorite room holds a number of tapestries in it. The cloth works are beautiful and the room is built specifically for them, with the size of the recesses where they hang perfectly sized. The room is also used each Saturday by the city to conduct civil marriage ceremonies. The ceremonies are quick – the long version is about 5 minutes – and they are something of an assembly line process, but they are also open to anyone who signs up (there is a bit of a waiting list to get a slot) and the setting is quite lovely.
As for the council room itself, it looks a lot like most other parliament rooms, though the ceiling is a bit different. The blue background is supposed to represent the open sky (similar to the blue room) and the beams across the top have a passing resemblance to an inverted ship, supposedly linking to the Viking history of the area, though there is some debate as to whether that was actually part of the design or not. Either way, it is pretty.
There is a bit of Nobel history also on display, mostly focusing on the gala dinner held each year honoring the award winners. A full place setting is on display and I must say that there is a whole lot of flatware involved for just one meal.
I was very impressed by the tapestries, and the Gold and Blue rooms were neat to see. Not the most amazing tour I’ve ever been on, but a good way to pass an hour or so while in town.