Never have I been to a city where I wanted to spend more time underground than above ground. But that was before I visited Stockholm.
Built on 14 islands and connected by 57 bridges, Stockholm is surrounded by water and takes the title of Northern Europe’s most elegant city. So with this much outdoor beauty, you may be wondering why I chose to swooped down every underground I could find.
I have two words: underground art.
It’s mystifying how these crazy ass undergrounds never made it to my attention before they did. I had read my fair share of articles on Stockholm but it wasn’t until I started looking for offbeat things to do and see in Sweden’s capital city that the lid to this feast of underground art finally popped open.
And once the lid was opened, I couldn’t keep it shut. I spent hours hammering the keys of my laptop in search of more pictures and more information, and made notes of all the ones which really stood out. There are 100 stations in Stockholm and over 90 of them display art in various forms.
How had I not seen these before? I kept muttering to myself as I gazed over them with an expression of delight in finding something that fills me with wonder does. Surely they deserve a song and dance? That’s why these undergrounds are Stockholm’s best kept secret.
Here are my favourites:
A harlequin design sweeps through the cave-like underground of Kundsträdgården. Painted by Ulrik Samuelson in 1977, you will also find archaeological remains from the old city which was torn down in the 50s and 60s in favour of modern architecture. I can’t help but feel, along with many I’m sure, that this was a regrettable attack on the city’s history, but thankfully, Gamla Stan, the Old Town, survives.
There are many stops at T-Centralen as this is where all trains connect and interchange. This wing of this station links to Kundsträdgården so it’s a good idea to see this one after paying a visit to the aforementioned. The figures represent the people who work on the undergrounds, and were painted by Swedish artist, Per Olof Ultvedt.
Out of all the stations this one is definitely the most photographed, and looking like a stairway to hell, it’s no surprise why. Shame about the construction impeding the full effect! Grrrrr.
As I stepped off the train onto the platform at Stadion, I felt like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow had just been found – by me!
If you were to find one of these stations inside a contemporary art space, it would be this one. Neon strips of white light fill the ceiling but the rest of the underground is washed down with mint green tiles. Perhaps it’s just my over-active imagination but this station has the potential to be very creepy at night. Imagine it when no one is there but you, the lights are flickering, a gentle breeze swarms past and a stranger is walking towards you…
I’m not sure what the colour green represents in this context but Fridhemsplan station has a naval theme running throughout the caves, including a big installation of a ship, anchor and compass.
Love, peace, and the women’s rights movement make up the powerful theme of Östermalmstorg station. Sweden has for a long time been associated with open-mindedness and equal rights and this station represents this state of mind brilliantly. These etches are the work of Swedish artist and sculptor, Siri Derkert, who died in 1973.
This station just looks really cool. You will find geometric shapes etched into the floor and a glass pentagonal cube.
The perfect place to be for people with a tile fetish!
These were just a few of my favourites stations. I didn’t have time to explore all 100, but it’s a very good reason to go back. If someone were to ask me about Stockholm, I wouldn’t be able to talk about it without mentioning what goes on below street level…
The secret is out.