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22 May 2017 / leggypeggy

Stockholm Cathedral filled with the ornate

Stockholm Cathedral

Main aisle with the pulpit on the left and the altar in the centre

Stockholm Cathedral, pulpit

A closer look at the pulpit and altar

It’s incredible to walk in to a modern looking building, only to find out that some of it is almost 700 years old. In fact, the oldest parts of Stockholm’s Cathedral are known to have been consecrated in 1306, and the first written mention of the brick church is dated 1279.

Of course, extensive work has been carried out since then. There were major works in the 14th and 15th centuries, and the church grew to its current size in 1480. The fittings and adornments were added about 200 years later. These included the ornate Royal Pews and pulpit—two of the fanciest I have ever seen.

Poor John and I were lucky enough to visit this church on our brief visit to Stockholm just last week.

Stockholm Cathedral, candle globe

The candle globe

Stockholm Cathedral, ceiling

Ornate ceiling

The cathedral is filled with beautiful and unusual objects. One that especially impressed me was the candle globe. It serves as an assembly point for prayers. The candles are lit for the world. Artist Toroff Engström designed the globe, which has been in the church since 1972.

The Royal Pews and pulpit are equally impressive. As the name implies, the pews are used only by the Royal Family when attending official ceremonies at the cathedral. They were designed by Nicodermis Tessin the Younger in 1684 and carved from wood by Burchard Precht. He also carved the elaborate pulpit in 1700.

The altar is made of ebony and silver, and was donated to the cathedral in the 1650s by Councillor of the Realm Johan Adler Salvias and his wife. I’m a sucker for church organs and this one is a beauty. It was built in 1960 (just a baby) and has 53 stops.

Perhaps one of the most striking pieces, though, is the oak sculpture of St George and the Dragon. It was consecrated in 1649 and was probably sculpted by Bernt Notke of Lübeck. It was commissioned by Sten Sture the Elder. He caused the forces of King Christian of Denmark to flee, thereby ‘rescuing’ Stockholm from the Danish invaders.

Stockholm Cathedral, organ


The commission makes sense when you know the legend of St George. A terrible dragon demanded human offerings from the town of Selene as the price for not destroying the town. On the day the king’s daughter was to be sacrificed, St George rode by. He offered to slay the dragon on the condition that the town’s heathen inhabitants would convert to Christianity.

Sture liked to be seen as the St George who saved Stockholm from the Danish dragon. That said, such statues always make me think of Mark Twain’s entertaining travel book, The Innocents Abroad. He and a companion journey throughout Europe, and Twain is constantly astounded by the number of bones (relics) St George must have had. They seemed to turn up in every church.

Stockholm Cathedral, St George and the Dragon

St George and the Dragon

Finally there is the Parhelion Painting, which depicts a light phenomenon that occurred over Stockholm in April 1535. Back then, six sparkling luminous rings of light (parhelia or sun dogs) appeared in the sky and were interpreted as the impending collapse of worldly power. It’s almost impossible to get a decent photo of the painting. Turns out that the one in the church is a copy. 

Royal Palace and changing of the guard
By the time we finished in the cathedral, we had just a few moments to pop in to the Royal Palace before it closed. We saw the Royal Chapel, but missed the official changing of the guards. Apparently Abba tunes are played during the main changeovers. Can anyone confirm this?

Stockholm Royal Palace, chapel

Chapel in the Royal Palace




Leave a Comment
  1. trE / May 22 2017 6:36 am

    Such a wonder! I love the candle globe!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. itsacrazycatladything / May 22 2017 6:48 am

    These images are stunning, the I love ceilings and rather grand organ. Despite the age everything still looks so pristine and new

    Liked by 3 people

  3. wfdec / May 22 2017 6:50 am

    I really love the flying ship.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. afterthelasttime / May 22 2017 7:54 am

    Amazing! The pulpits are incredible and no doubt in their day exalted the priest to a position the commoners looked to as their connection to GOD.
    My Great Grandfather emigrated to the U.S. through Ellis Island leaving behind his family and an extreme famine in Sweden. With little English speaking skills. To provide his name he pointed to his first name, Charles, in a registry though he decided there were too many Americans with his last name, Andersen, so he looked until he found another Swedish last name, Bratten, which he adopted at that time.
    His next stop was the Union Pacific Office in Manhattan then several days on a train to Gothenburg, NE finding everything black as a prairie fire had swept through a few days prior.
    He ultimately received a land grant in the Wild Horse Valley northwest of Gothenburg and another farm he purchased west of Brady. He was a successful farmer/rancher returning to Sweden most Autumns after harvest taking with him as much U.S. Dollars for his suffering family in Sweden.
    Your terrific writing about this beautiful cathedral made me remember that in 1912 my Great Grandfather paid for and built a Swedish church in the Wild Horse Valley, Svea Dal, which as far as I know is still in use today. There are photos of the church online but says nothing about the congregation which no doubt has dwindled to a small few. I can only remember attending as a small child confused by the strange talk and singing in Swedish.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 22 2017 12:56 pm

      Oh Dave, this is a wonderful comment that gives us just a taste of what it must have been like for your great-grandfather all those years ago. I’m so glad this post triggered those memories for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. beetleypete / May 22 2017 7:57 am

    More great finds in Sweden, Peggy. The treasures of Scandinavia are many indeed.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 22 2017 1:00 pm

      We’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring Finland and Sweden. So many treasures.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Miriam / May 22 2017 8:28 am

    What a spectacular Cathedral and those ceilings, wow. They don’t make churches like they used to.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sheryl / May 22 2017 8:50 am

    The cathedral is beautiful. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen photos of a Scandinavian cathedral before.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. gerard oosterman / May 22 2017 9:21 am

    Beautiful cathedral and Royal Palace photos, Peggy.
    St George’s bones are all over Scandinavia. It made me think of the many ‘genuine’ Olympic torches that were doing the rounds during the Sydney Olympics. Shopping malls all over Australia featured ‘real’ Olympic torches.
    Real Santa’s will soon be appearing again too.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 22 2017 1:03 pm

      Oh Gerard, you made me laugh. You can be sure that I’ll be on the lookout now for more St Georges, Olympic torches and Santas.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Chris Riley / May 22 2017 12:16 pm

    Amazing architecture. I stand in awe at the old cathedrals imagining how hard the building of such places must have been.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Ankur Mithal / May 22 2017 1:13 pm

    Looks like another great place to visit. Many places in Europe have been able to protect and preserve art and architecture that qualifies as heritage in a pristine condition, making it an irresistible combination for people from all over the world to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 22 2017 4:20 pm

      For being an old building, this cathedral is one of the best preserved I’ve ever seen.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Invisibly Me / May 22 2017 1:37 pm

    Such beautiful architecture, this really is impressive.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. pvcann / May 22 2017 2:36 pm

    Certainly is ornate, very different to other cathedrals contemporary with it. Delightful photos too.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 22 2017 3:53 pm

    This is one of the most gorgeous cathedrals I’ve ever seen – such detail, such attention to elegance. And it’s pristine as if the workmen just completed it. Thank you for all the photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 22 2017 4:14 pm

      You are most welcome. Every now and then I think I share too many churches, but then something like this comes along.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. thefunnyoneblog / May 22 2017 4:24 pm

    This is a wonderful cathedral. Hope to visit soon Stockholm 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. spearfruit / May 22 2017 8:10 pm

    Amazing and beautiful cathedral – lots of history to go along with it. Thank you Peggy for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. poshbirdy / May 22 2017 8:20 pm

    Gorgeous. What a stunning cathedral

    Liked by 2 people

  17. lmo58 / May 23 2017 1:23 am

    Magnificent as always Peggy. Thank you. John has created an international trend. I’ve spotted people, mostly men, walking with their hands clasped behind their backs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2017 3:46 am

      Oh yes, we often see people walking with their hands clasped behind their backs. Hope your travels are going well.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Green Global Trek / May 23 2017 1:26 am

    Magnificent ceilings in that cathedral! Whether from 1380, 1480, or 1580 – it is just splendid architectural work! It is always valuable to stroll through a town or through buildings that are centuries old. I experience it, almost every time, as a reminder of our small individual roles in the continuum of the human experience. How many masses took place, and how different, and yet similar, the mass goers must have been, over the decades and centuries. It makes me wonder which of today’s architectural work will “stand the test of time”, and become windows into our current time to generations that follow us… Thank you for this interesting post.


    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2017 3:54 am

      You make wonderful points, Ben. It’s so humbling to stand and walk where thousands have gone before. To imagine their lives and aspirations. And yes, which of our architectural ‘wonders’ will impress those of the future. Tonight we’re staying in a 300-year-old castle in Latvia. It’s knocking my socks off.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. estellalynch / May 23 2017 2:48 am

    Where do I begin? This is the most stunning church/cathedral I’ve ever seen! What an architectural treat…I feel blessed to see so much of it today without moving from my chair. That candle globe is gorgeous, as are the ornate ceiling and surrounds. Apart from those explored on holidays in France and Italy, my experience of churches are quite cold and similar. This is simply stunning and I am now enticed to Stockholm!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2017 3:55 am

      Oh yes, the candle globe is stunning. I’ve never before seen anything like it. But as you say, the whole place is stunning. I think the light and sense of warmth make a huge difference. I hope you manage to get there one day.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Phil Huston / May 23 2017 7:02 am

    The amazing thing about Cathedrals this old? We went to the Cathedral of the Black Madonna in Italy. The freaking marble is worn from kneeling. Marble! Worn! Holy cow! Great photographs. The pipe organ is a baby, but even bay pip organs rock. Did it have the brass pipes, the ones that look like the bells of trombones and trumpets?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2017 4:24 pm

      Thanks. Who knew knees could wear down marble? The pipes weren’t brass, but the organ still looks amazing.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. adventuredawgs / May 24 2017 1:58 pm

    What an incredible building. I often feel weird about touristing through places of worship but that would keep me busy for hours. And that statue of St. George and the dragon is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 24 2017 2:48 pm

      I get what you’re saying about feeling weird touring a place of worship, but this one is especially special—and especially welcoming.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. jeanleesworld / May 31 2017 1:01 pm

    Oh, the light in these is breathtaking. Your photography just…wow! xxxxx


    • leggypeggy / May 31 2017 5:17 pm

      Thanks Jean, but I have to give the cathedral all the credit for just standing there and being gorgeous.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. deeplygrateful / Aug 7 2017 9:54 pm

    Wow! You don’t see a cathedral like that in the US.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 7 2017 10:12 pm

      I think the Stockholm Cathedral is special for anywhere in the world.


  24. Forestwoodfolk / Aug 9 2017 6:09 pm

    Those lights depicted in the painting sound so curious! It is a wonderful cathedral. Magnificent statues! St George seems to be a popular Scandinavian motif. – There is another one in Odense, Denmark. Equally stunning, or perhaps this is due to the Danish -Swedish rivalry! BTW, no Abba songs when I saw the changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace…. maybe because it was winter, they wanted to get it over with quickly????

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 9 2017 6:59 pm

      The painting is under glass which made it hard to view and hard to photograph, but it was interesting to read the story. Thanks for letting me know about the statue in Odense. Another destination to add to the list. What no Abba? Maybe someone was pulling my leg! 🙂


  25. Pooja Thapliyal / Aug 20 2017 4:12 am

    Wonderful pictures and the history behind them is also interesting too. That candle globe is so beautiful 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 20 2017 9:06 am

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It’s such a beautiful and elegant cathedral.


  26. Sartenada / Oct 7 2017 8:01 pm

    Gorgeous post. I love its photos.

    Well, if somebody would have searched my blog and its post, then he / she would have found what that ship is called.

    I have told about them in this post:

    Ships inside churches.

    I have presented 27 Votive ships in my little known country called Finland. 🙂

    Happy weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 7 2017 10:17 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing the link to your post about ships in churches. Nice to know you have taken the custom to Finland.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. vinneve / May 14 2020 12:43 pm


    Liked by 1 person

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