The oldest and biggest square in the old town of Stockholm – Gamle Stan – is called Stortorget. It is natural center of the old town and located just behind the royal castle. If you visit the old town you will most certainly come to this square – most likely at several occasions. The square might look familiar since pictures from the square have a prominent position on much tourist material from the city.
There are many nice buildings along the square – the most prominent is the former exchange which has been transformed into the Swedish Academy responsible for the Nobel Prize and the Nobel Museum. The building takes up one side of the square. The other sides of the square are lined by some smaller but still very nice old buildings.
There are many small restaurants and cafes around the square so it is a good place to sit outside on a sunny day and have a drink or a bite to eat. We sure took advantage of these small cafes when we met up with a couple of friends in the city and just hang out on the square for a while.
The square is the oldest square in the old town so there is a lot of history present on the square. The most significant historical event on the square took place in 1520. The swedes had been rebelling against the Danish king for a while wanting independence from the Danish overlord. The swedes had finally surrendered and the Swedish nobility were present at the coronation party of the new Danish king who would receive the Swedish throne. They would pledge their allegiance to new king. The arch bishop who had been loyal to the king and been in captivity of the Swedish rebels was not happy with this – so he charged the Swedish nobles with blasphemy. There wasn’t much of a trial where the defendant could actually defend themselves so they were all sentenced to death – and they were all beheaded on the square a total of 80 of the leading Swedish nobility.
The Danish king thought he had now put an end to the Swedish rebellion – killing all the Swedish nobility. He also executed Erik Johansson Vasa – but his son Gustav Vasa managed to hide from the killings and survived. He rose to oust the Danish king and take the Swedish throne himself only three years later.