OpenRoad Driver Volume 13 Issue 1 - Page 77

Volume 13 Issue 1 » 77 Sigtuna Viking ship recalls one horrific legend. Eighty white stones surrounding windows and doorways memorialize victims of a 1520 slaughter, known as the Stockholm Bloodbath. Here, Danish rulers beheaded dissident nobility, merchants and priests. One noble’s son, Gustav Vasa escaped, hid and later returned to lead a revolt. He was eventually elected Sweden’s first modern King. HONOUR The square’s neo-classical former Stock Exchange has housed the Nobel Museum since 2001, 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prizes. Its exhibits tell the inspiring story of Alfred Nobel. Inventing dynamite, he made a fortune and later endowed much of this wealth to six prestigious prizes. Among them, the peace prize reflects regret over wartime use of his explosives, and the literature prize acknowledges his unfulfilled ambition to write. H O S P I TA L I T Y Relaxing at an outdoor café opposite, we munch on roasted beet salads, sip regional beers, and picture early townsfolk exchanging gossip at the stone well, still a popular meeting place today. Proceeding along an elevated walkway, we encounter a tarnished St. George fighting a dragon. Locals tell us ‘George’ symbolizes Gustav battling Denmark for Sweden. The bronze princess stands on an adjacent pedestal. Back at Palace Square, we’re just in time to see the changing of the guard, occurring daily since 1523. Smartly uniformed in navy blue and white, the military band parades over Norrbro Bridge and along the front of the Royal Palace. Most spectators, including us, follow the band to the royal courtyard for a welcoming and rousing thirtyminute concert. Three gold crowns atop a lofty tower identify red-brick City Hall. Crossing a bridge onto Kungsholmen Island, we enter City Hall’s large courtyard to view an array of statues. Here, Swedish artists Strindberg, Fröding and Josephson are portrayed. Inside, the iconic Blue Hall hosts Nobel Prize banquets. A 10,270-pipe organ, Scandinavia’s largest, entertains such gatherings. One floor up, Golden Hall’s eighteen million tiles conjure a mosaic of Sweden’s past. TRUTH Artwork often appears among the city’s monumental architecture. One souvenir shop displays an outside squad of whimsical trolls. A bicycle is adorned with a crocheted purple, blue and yellow banner declaring Bike and Soul, while a small sculpture called Rag and Bone is found amid its government buildings. This blanketed fox and kit represents the homeless, placed here to remind the influential about flaws in the welfare system.