Stockholm is the most regal, elegant, and intriguing city in Scandinavia. Although the city was founded more than 7 centuries ago, it did not become the official capital of Sweden until the mid-17th century. Today Stockholm reigns over a modern welfare state and it is one of the world's most liberal, progressive, and democratic societies.
Because of Sweden's neutrality, it was saved from aerial bombardment during World War II, so much of what you see today is antique, especially the historical heart, Gamla Stan (the Old Town). Yet Sweden is one of the world's leading exponents of modern architecture, funkis (functionalism). Some of the world's most innovative architecture appears on its fringes. Swedish fashion and Swedish design in glassware, furnishings, and industrial products remain at the cutting edge.
Stockholm also enjoys the most dramatic setting of any small capital city in Europe, with a population of 1.9 million people. The city was built on 14 islands in Lake Mälaren, which marks the beginning of an archipelago of 24,000 islands, skerries, and islets stretching all the way to the Baltic Sea. A city of bridges and islands, towers and steeples, cobblestone squares and broad boulevards, Renaissance splendor and steel-and-glass skyscrapers, Stockholm also has access to nature just a short distance away. You can even go fishing in the downtown waterways, thanks to a long-standing decree signed by Queen Christina.