Thursday, 3 June 2010
Stockholm A-Z: Djurgården
D is for Djurgården
For me, it's easy to forget about the island of Djurgården. It feels so far away. But actually, it's not very far at all. A 10 minute bike ride or a 20 minute run and you are there.
Djurgården is the 'pleasure island' for Stockholmers. Located in Stockholm's harbour, it hosts museums, galleries, gardens, a zoo, a funfair, a market, cafés, restaurants, a theatre, hotels. The list goes on.
When I first moved to Sweden, I used to think it was stupid to have so many museums concentrated in one area. I used to find it tedious to have to go out to the same destination every time I wanted to go to one of these museums.
But I have changed my mind. I think Djurgården is amazing.
It is one of Stockholm's truly unique features. Going to Djurgården is like visiting a sanctuary, away from the stresses of urban life, where it is all about focusing on recreation.
The existence of Djurgården is deeply engrained in the Stockholmers' minds, and strongly rooted in history. As far back as the 1200's, the island was a royal hunting ground. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the focus shifted from royal hunting to recreation for the public. The 16th century historian Olas Magni describes 'sculling girls conveying lads and maidens out to play and disport themselves.'
But the true rise of Djurgården happened in the late 1800's, when a horse-drawn omnibus line was created linking the city to the island. And in 1897 the great Stockholm Exhibition took place there.
This put Djurgården firmly on the map where it still remains today as one of the Stockholmers' most favourite places to disport themselves.