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Gamla stan

Gamla stan is the old town of Stockholm, Sweden. It consists mainly of the island Stadsholmen, but spreads also covers Riddarholmen and Helgeandsholmen. Gamla stan is also referred to as the "town between the bridges".

Panoramic view of Gamla stan from the harbor

The town dates back to the 13th century, and consists of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic architecture. Most of the original inhabitants of the town in its establishment were of German descent, and the contemporary north German architecture evidently had a strong influence in the Old Town's construction.

Stortorget is the name of the scenic large square in the centre of Gamla Stan, which is surrounded by old merchant's houses including the Stockholm Stock Exchange. The square was the site of the Stockholm blood bath, where Swedish noblemen were massacered by, the Danish, King Christian II, on November 7, 1520. The following revolt an civil war led to the dissolution of the Kalmar Union and the subsequent election of King Gustav I of Sweden.

As well as being home to the Stockholm Cathedral, the Nobel Museum, and the Riddarholm church, Gamla stan also boasts Kungliga slottet, Sweden's baroque Royal Palace, built in 1790 after the previous castle burned down. A statue of St. George and the Dragon can be found in Riddarholmskyrkan the royal burial church, and Ball Court Garden is a small courtyard in Gamla stan which is home to Stockholm's smallest statue, a little boy.

Until recently, Gamla stan was considered a slum, many of its historical buildings left in disrepair. In the last two decades, however, it has become a tourist attraction as the charm of its medieval and Renaissance architecture have been valued by later generations. Despite the abundance of restaurants, tourist shops, and cafes, Gamla stan is a UNESCO World Heritage site.