Thursday, December 31, 2015

Stockholm Stadshus

Stockholm City Hall from the "inside.".The building is an open rectangle.
The Stockholm Stadshus (City Hall) is an impressive structure. Outside, it has a great tower in one corner and sits directly across the lake from our hotel. Inside, however, it is a special place.

The Blue Room.

As you can see, the great Blue Room isn't. It is mostly red with some blue-green/gray tile on the floor. The architect, Ragnar Östberg, originally intended it to be plastered and painted blue, but when they got to this stage he liked it so much, he went with the new color scheme. Of course, by this time, the name had stuck and we have a mostly red brick Blue Room.

This is where the Nobel banquet is held each year. 1300 people are put into a 1500 m2 room. To make this happen, each person, except the guests of honor, gets 60 cm along the table. If you are Swedish royalty or a prize recipient, you get 70 cm. And a good time is had by all.

The awardees walk along this  corridor overlooking the Blue Room...

...and then descend this staircase to the banquet. Having walked this path and down the stairs, I've now been as close to a Nobel Prize as I'm going to get.

After the food, everyone goes back upstairs to the aptly named Gold Room. It is here that the ball is held with an orchestra and dancing. There are 18 million gold tiles covering all four walls.

The Gold Room looking toward the end with the Queen of the Lake (Lake Mälaren) who sits between the West (tall buildings  and Statue of Liberty(!) on the left and the East with elephants and such on the right.
This is really one amazing place for a party!

Yet, it is city hall after all. This means there must be a place for city council to meet. This is a wonderful combination of beauty of practicality.

There are 101 members of the council to avoid tied votes. The ceiling was originally intended to be a flat, boring ceiling, but again the architect changed his mind and liked the open rafters. By painting the ceiling in the center at the highest point to look like sky with stars and clouds, it is intended to represent the open roofs of the Viking homes where the smoke was let out. Here, they are symbolically letting the voices of the lawmakers out to the city to include all citizens in the process. There's a thought, eh?

After the guided tour through the building (the only way to see it), I stepped back out to the water front for a few sunset photos (it was now 3:30 and time for solar bed-time).

This is among the better images of a woman seemingly dancing on the water. That seems to me to be a good representation of the city of Stockholm: a people dancing on the water.

There is an openness that we get from the shopkeepers and a friendliness on the streets - perhaps because of the season, but I think it is here all the time - that gives you a feeling of happiness. Stockholm is not a city of bustle and excitement like New York or London. It is not a city that feels even a little exotic like San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. It is a solid, well built city with a tremendous diversity of people dancing on the foundations of the 16th and 17th Centuries. It makes me smile.

Everyone should visit.