The Old Town is between 850 and 900 years old, there is more information about the age etc in the historic part of the Web Site. During all these years the Old Town has developed, being built and rebuilt, changed and transformed, of course there are a number of odd, hidden and secret things left behind.
Below you can read about them all, well not all. For you who take the guided tour The Axeman, Ghosts and Legends"" we will reveal some that we do not tell everyone else.
1 - The marking of the old castle "Tre kronor"
In the stone paving of slottsbacken, close to the western part of the castle there is a marking visible that corresponds to the red marking at the image to the right. The marking represent where the southwest bastion of the old castle "Tre Kronor" was located. The second image to the right shows the castle with that bastion highlighted in yellow (the image can be enlarged).
If you place yourself at the marking you can get a feeling how the old castle was placed and also that it was not smaller than the present castle if you include the surrounding walls. It was more of a fairy tale castle with towers, walls and catwalk.
2 - The disappeared part of the Cathedral
In 1554 the King Gustav Vasa decided that the Cathedral should be demolished, he thought it was located to close to the castle and prevented the canons to fire in all directions.
In front of the Cathedral at slottsbacken you can find markings that shows the part that was eventualy demolished. It was the polygonal chapel in the east part of the Cathedral. In the image to the right we have highlighted the markings in red to help you find it when you visit the Cathedral.
If you visit the Cathedral go and see the markings, see if you agree with the king that it was necessary to demolish the chapel to give the canons at the castle better chance to fire in all directions?
3 - The 92 white stones
The 92 white stones, highlighted at the image to the right, has a truly horrifing history of massmurder to tell.
Between November 7 - 10:th 1520, the Danish union King Kristian kills 92 persons of the Swedish nobility and citizens of Stockholm at Stortorget (the main square). 82 is beheaded and 10 is hanged. This massmurder is called The Stockholm Blodbath.
In 1520 all prominent Swedish nobelmen was summond to Stockholm to participate in the coronation of the King Kristian II. He was danish and elected king of the Nordic Union (Sweden, Denmark and Norway). After the coronation there was a large party to celebrate the coronation but on the third day the king has the gates locked and none is allowed to leave the city. The Bishop Erik Trolle now accuse some of the Swedish nobelmen of doings a couple of years earlier and the King size the opportunit to get rid of the opposition against him i Sweden.
Totally 92 persons are executed and it's said that in some very cold and rainy nights one can still see the blod floating on the paving stones.
In 1650 the house witht the 92 white stones was rebuilt by Johan Eberhard Schants and it was then he put the 92 stone into the wall to be a memory of each one of the excuted persons at Stockholms blodbath. It's said that if any stone will disapear the person representing that stone will have to walk the streets of the Old Town in eternity.
You can count the number of stones yourself and see if there is 92 or if any is missing.
4 - The Canon ball
The Canon ball is very visible in the corner of the bulding, you can see it on the photo to the right. Do you want to see it with your own eyes it's very easy to find it, just go to the southwest corner of Stortorget (the main square) and there it is.
The story behind the Canon ball is that it was fired by Gustav Vasa 1521 (this was before he was elected king of Sweden) against King Kristian II (read more about his above). He was called the Tyrant in Sweden and the Good in Denmark, in Sweden it was partly due to that he arranged Stockholm blodbath a few years ealier.
The King was allmost hit by the Canon ball but it missed and got stuck in the corner of the building where it is today. The siege ended with that the King has to flee back to Denmark and Gustav Vasa was elected King of Sweden.
Well, the story about the Canon ball is just a legend, the real story behind it is:
In 1795 the furniture dealer Fredrik Christian Grevesmuhl built a new house at Stortorget (the main square) and it was he who put the Canon ball there during the builing of the house. Approx. 250 years after the it was supposed to be fired. He justified it with that the Canon ball was a monument of the liberation of Sweden as a independent kingdom under Gustav Vasa and the removal of the much hated King Kristian II.
Due to the Canon ball the house is sometimes called "Rövarkulan" (robber's den)
5 - The face and ?
This ornament displays a mans face and ? Well, that just it. What is it under the face? You can see it on the photo to the right.
Some people says it looks like the femal sex organ, then one can ask why has anyone put it there? We dont know and as far as we know, nobody else knows either. You can go there and find out for yourself what it looks like, the address is: Skeppsbron 44 and you can look at the map above, number 5, where it is.
6 - The Bartizan
This very special oriel, or bartizan as the more correct term is, at kornhamnstorg no 51, The Scharenberg House, has its own history.
The halfbrother of Queen Kristina, count Gustaf Gustafsson of Vasaborg, owned the house at kornhamnstorg 51. During a rebuild of the house he had this bartizan added on top of the portal facing the lake Mälaren. A Batizan was originally used for guarding but during the age when the count lived bartizans was a common way to decorate a house.
This is the only remaining bartizan in the Old town and it rests on 4 "Atlanter". These are very similary to the ones you can see on the man-of-war "Wasa", which was built by the counts father King Gustav II Adolf.
The legend about this bartizan is that the male "Atlant" that it rests on is very similary the the count himself. This makes the counts present very obvious in this part of the Old Town and it's even said that during some special nights you can see him walking the streets of the city. How knows. You can see how the Bartizan look at the photo to the right.
7 - The Wall and the Treasure
Inside one of the more well known restaurants in the Old Town, The Restaurant Leijontornet, there are the remainings of the old western defence wall and the tower called "Lejontornet" (The Lion tower). You can see it on the photo to the right which you can enlarge. On the map above you find the it at number 7.
If you enter the restaurant, please try their excellent food, the remainings of the wall is very visible and also highlighted. It was discovered in 1980 when the owner of Victory Hotell, Gunnar Bengtsson, was planning to create a small garden on the backyard of the Hotel. When they started to excavate they found the old wall and the planned park became a restaurant instead.
Exactly when the wall was built is not knowned but it was in most likely in the 1380 since the poles supporting the wall has been dated to 1382-1384.
This was however not the first time someone was excavating or digging at this location. In 1937 there was a store selling potatoes here and during the renovation a real treasury was discovered. Beneath the wodden floor a treasury containing more than 18.000 silver coins and other valubale items was discovered. The treasury was dated to approx. 1741 because that was the date of the youngest coin. The value of the treasury today vould have been in the region of 100 million Swedish kronor (approx. 10 million Euro).
In the 18:th century the family Lohe lived in the house where the treasury was found. It was a whealthy family with their own shipping line, manuafctures and real estates. They where also lending money to others and maybe they where the richest family in the city. In the 1740 it was dangerus times when more than 5.000 men from dalarna where standing outside the city threaten to take the city by storm if they didn't get their demands fullfill. Maybe it was during these days that the Lohe family did hide their belongins?
You can read more about the treasury at Stockholms stadsmuseums Web Site, many of the items that was not coins are also exhibited there.You can find the coins from the treasury at the The Royal Coin Cabinet, also in the Old Town.
8 - The Swedish standard height point
We have had problems with finding a good translation for this, please help us if you know the correct english terms for this. The Editorial Staff
Inside of the hatch that you find in the rock face at Schering Rosenhanes Gränd there is the Swedish standard height point. The item is a small peg in silver vertical graded where the exact height over the water could be read.
The Swedish standard height point was a reference height that all other heights in Sweden was related to whih enabled correct and accurate measurements in height over the water level. The height was exact 11,8 meter at this location with a tolerance of 1 millimeter. The Swedish standard height point was established in 1898 by Professor P.G. Rosén at his location since the Swedish general staff was next door and they where responsible.
It's no longer in use today since there is a European standard height point in Amsterdam.
9 - The marking for Norreport (the old nothern City Gate)
Norreport (the northern city gate) is mentioned in writing the first time in 1409. At the images to the right you can see a drawing of Norreport and also, with red markings, where it was located
If you would like to get the feeling how it was to enter Stockholm in the 14 - 16:th century you only have to go to Mynttorget and stand withing the markings. You will most likely find that the city gate was very narrow and didn't allow for any greater number of people to pass through at the same time, this was of course the idea with a gate in the first place besides protect gainst invasions etc. This was also a place where a toll was taken to enter the city, a sort of early congestion charge that have given modern politics ideas.
10 - Hell
Hell was, and still is, a place in the Old Town that you can visit.
The northern part of Prästgatan that i situated north of Storkyrkobrinken was named Helvetsgränd (Hells Alley) until 1885. The name comes from that the area nort of the church in those days was called Hell. This was regarded in the old days as a profane place for the dead.
To further enhance the negative feeling for this place this was where the axeman lived until 1550. The house where he live is longe gone and can't be found if your where thinking about take a look at that but the street is still there.
The Axeman was normally a man sentence to death but with the punishment postponed as long as he acted as the city's axeman. The first duty of the new axeman was to kill the previous. To make sure he didn't try to run away his ears was cut of, to make him easy recognizable, or the city's mark was burned into them. Neither alternative was probably very attractive.
On the map above at number 10 is where you find Hell or Hells alley. Do you dare to enter?