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Stockholm – noble city

Its inhabitants refer to Stockholm as the smallest big city in Europe and it enjoys a reputation as one of the most dynamic, modern, creative and cosmopolitan centres of culture in the world. All reasons aplenty to get to know it a little better. 

Text:
Monica Filthaut
Photos:
Christoph Kern
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There’s no denying that the “Venice of the North” is a beauty.

Stockholm is a rich city. This is evident not only in the magnificent Jugendstil buildings lining the promen­ades of Strand­vägen, where the ferries dock that sail out to the skerries, where those local residents who can afford it have their weekend and vacation get­aways. Stockholm is also rich in its wealth of islands. Whereas 763 years ago its founding fathers were satisfied to make their home on the tiny islet of Stadsholmen (today the picturesque Old Town of Gamla Stan), Sweden’s capital has since expanded to encompass an archipelago of 14 islands in Lake Mälaren, whose labyrinthine arms lose themselves in the estuary to the Baltic Sea. The city is just as generously endowed with bridges. Are there 53? Or is it 57? There’s certainly more than enough water, in any case.

He still bears the pride of his Roman heritage: Alessandro Catenacci came to Stockholm as a child. His family founded a successful restaurant empire in the city. Today, the Nobis Group comprises luxury design hotels, top-flight restaurants and nightclubs throughout the capital (see “Tipps”).
Wow effect in the spectacular 28-metre-high atrium lounge that forms the heart of the city’s elegant five-star Nobis Hotel. Like a colossal honeycomb, the vast chandelier lights up an array of cosy sitting areas designed for guests to relax in comfort and style.

The abundance of nature is also striking – lush green spaces spread over two-thirds of its surface area. One magical example is the island of Djurgården. There is also a plethora of museums (around 100) and of artistic and cultural assets. The SoFo district on Södermalm is known as a rich source of second-hand, vintage and retro items and is an increasingly import­ant focus for Stockholm’s avant-garde, with more and more artists and designers moving there. The SoFo abbreviation – South of Folkungagatan – is a smart marketing move, copied from New York’s SoHo neighbourhood. The risk of visitors falling prey to bouts of extreme shopping frenzy is high in the bustling centres of Norrmalm and Östermalm, with their profusion of chic boutiques, trendy designer outlets and elegant shopping streets. Then there are the countless restaurants, bars and other sources of Lucullan bliss: Stockholm serves food from (virtually) every nation under the sun – with plenty of stars to boot. And last but not least, there’s Stureplan – the epicentre of the most exclusive clubs and bars and playground to the hippest and coolest of the capital’s beautiful people.

Avant-garde meets history

There’s no denying that the “Venice of the North” is a beauty. The city has great allure, but is without pretention. It is young and dynamic, yet maintains traditions. It is a global player, yet retains a sense of modesty. In other words: it is much more than just “beautiful”. Without great to-do, this little metropolis has grown into one of the most innovative, creative and cosmopolitan cities on earth. Ingenious and inventive figures from the realms of music, fashion, design, technology and the Internet astound the world again and again with groundbreaking ideas and new trends. This includes such brands as Acne Studios, Gant, Orrefors Kosta Boda and giants à la Ericsson, Skype and Spotify. Classics like ABBA, Ikea and H&M have been setting the tone for generations.

Island hopping with the eyes: the vantage point of Monteliusvägen on Södermalm affords a breathtaking pano­rama of the city. On the left, the imposing tower of the city hall on Kungsholmen thrusts skyward, on the right is the Old Town island of Gamla Stan.
Evident even in the glowing nocturnal light: the capital’s clearly laid-out street system makes it easy to find one’s way around. This beautiful vista is available free of charge from the Och Himlen Därtill bar, which is located on the 26th floor of the Skrapan mini-skyscraper on Södermalm. restauranghimlen.se

The hotel sector is also attracting attention with its inspired concepts – away from impersonal sleeping factories to genuine guest houses: “My personal experience as a guest elsewhere goes into shaping my design hotels,” explains Alessandro Catenacci, owner of the Nobis Group. “I expect elegance, efficiency, charisma, unrivalled comfort and a relaxed atmosphere. And that is precisely what we offer.” One of the city’s greatest sons, Alfred Nobel, draws the interest of the world to Stockholm every December. On the anniversary of his death, the King of Sweden shakes hands with winners of the prestigious prize at the Konsert­huset. Is it the wonderful purity of the air here that so inspires the Nordic spirit? Is it the intensity of the light that animates the soul? Is it the omnipresence of that elixir of life – water – that imparts such energy and drive? Why not find out for yourself?

Nature fans will fall in love with the enchanting island of Djurgården – it is a popular leisure destination for Stockholm dwellers and a mere bridge away from the city centre. Passengers on the majestic Finland ferries are happy every time someone waves “Hello” or “Goodbye” to them as they sail past.
You could also be interested in:
1 You’ve just returned from a long business trip. Do you have a routine you follow when you come back to Stockholm?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve become more and more sensitive to jet lag; so when I arrive from overseas in the morning, I try to make sure I have meetings planned for the day or some other activity to keep my energy levels up until it’s a reasonable time for bed.

2 What makes Stockholm so special?

The Stockholm archipelago is unique, with its 25,000 islands. I use my boat to get around the city and I love cruising around the islands, which are like a labyrinth until you reach the open sea.

3 Where do you prefer to go out for dinner?

One of my favourite places is Teatergrillen. It’s an institution, there’s always plenty happening and it has a great ambience and clientele.

4 What should a tourist definitely not miss seeing?

Fotografiska, the exhibition centre for contemporary photography. They always have amazing photography of great artists from all over the world on display.

5 You are the founder of a number of lifestyle brands; do you have any new projects?

I reduced the pace for a while after I left the Puro Group in Spain. Now I’m just starting to develop a project with jungle villas in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. More or less unintentionally, I also launched my own brand of bed linen and towels a few months ago.

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