According to tradition, Stockholm was founded by Birger Jarl in 1250. It is certainly mentioned in a preserved letter from 1252, but the size of the settlement at that time is quite unknown. Birka and Sigtuna had been the centers of power in Sweden before this time, but the strategic position of the "stock holme"("log islet") at the inlet of the mälaren meant that it was ideal for use as a lock.

In 1520, king Kristian II(commonly known as "Kristian the Tyrant" in Sweden) marched into Stockholm, hailed by the burghers. He proceeded to decapitate no less than 82 of the citys most prominent men. This event, known as the Blood Bath of Stockholm, still lives in city history, with several places and stories tied to it.

During the 17th century, Stocholm beyond the Old Town gained the shape it has today. Central to the design was a geometrical grid of streets and the idea of "tullar" or tolls that controlled the entry points into the city. Similar to the Tors of Berlin, the places where they lay still retain the names of Hornstull, Roslagstull, Norrtull, Skanstull, Danvikstull etc. The architect of this development was Klas Fleming, and he had such vast resources because during this time the Baltic Sea was surrounded by Swedish territory on all sides(following the Thirty Years War).

In the 20th century, functionalism, bauhaus and the demolition of the beautiful Klara district all put their mark upon Stockholm before the 1960s arrived, and with them a great evil. Because of terrible overpopulation and large residential areas inappropriate for the majority of people, a grand program was initiated to build one million apartments. The resulting apartment complexes were uniformly ugly, bleak, desolate things, not suitable for living in. They were also plagued by asbestos problems and other effects of using cutting-edge but as yet untested materials.

Modern Stockholm is a bustling capital with roughly two million inhabitants, counting surrounding areas. Approximately 700 000 of these live in the inner city, 400 000 in the rich northern suburbs and the rest in the developing areas to the south and west(the Baltic Sea prevents expansion to the east, except for small cottages on islets in the archipelago). The inner town of Stockholm is divided (sometimes by water, sometimes by custom) into several parts: the Old Town on the original stockholmen, the Kungsholmen to the south, Östermalm to the north and east and Vasastan and Birkastan to the north and west.

Stockholm also has several universities, including the Royal Institute of Technology or KTH, Södertörns Universitet and the University of Stockholm.

It might be interesting to know that Kristian II is known as Kristian the good in Denmark. It appears that much like beauty, tyranny is in the eye of the beholder.


The research for this writeup was greatly facilitated by Holmiensis, www.holmiensis.net

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