Stockholm Metro System

Stockholm Metro SystemThe Stockholm Metro System is known around the world as an underground art project. Spectacular photos of it can be found all over the Internet. Even the city itself promotes it as the ‘World’s longest art project’. But what it’s really like?

During our visit to Stockholm we took the guided tour around the Metro where lovely Tiiu shared valuable information with us. The tour lasted for an hour and a half and included 5 important stations, all centrally located. We learned a bit about its history, how names and designs were chosen and even some curious anecdotes. While very informative it was a bit basic. To really get to know the system we had to visit faraway stations the next day.

While we agree that some stations are actually beautiful, we couldn’t help but wonder if they were being oversold. We visited many of them and most looked pretty normal to us. We remembered Tiiu when she told us that any station that includes something as basic as a designed bench, a small statue or colour ceramic tiles is considered art. From that same perspective, can we call all metro stations around the world art? After all, each bench or litter bin had to be designed somewhere.

Setting aside all of those possible questions, there is no doubt Stockholm Metro System is pretty unique. Many stations bear the name of the place where they are located and were designed somehow related to the purpose of that place. Thus, it is symbolical while helping you to understand where you are. Additionally, it gives us an insight on how design concepts changed over time. Stations from the 50s have their walls entirely covered; those from the 60s have some parts un-covered; while the ones from the 70s tend to show more of the original walls. Some stations show the original outline of the granite walls (covered with a thin layer of sprayed concrete) using it as an art canvas, which was a unique revolutionary concept. Finally, others display big pieces of the granite walls, showcasing such beautiful natural art.

Let’s take a look at some of our favourite stations

(the first five are included in the tour)

Stadion

1973, red line

Built next to the Stockholms Stadion it embraces the free spirit of the Olympic Games hosted by the city in 1912. The blue cave station is covered by a large rainbow whose 5 colours represent the five continents. Its large letters and symbols point you to different directions: the large colourful hand to the south entrance to the Stadium, while the M letter to the Music Academy.

Universitetet

1975, red line

Just as its name says it is located near the Stockholm University. Since the Museum of Natural History is also nearby the details depict motives related to both institutions. The 12 large panels brought from Portugal are dedicated to different sciences and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Special tribute is paid to Carl von Linné, the Swedish biologist who invented modern taxonomy.

Tekniska högskolan

1973, red line

This station is named after the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden’s top engineering school. Its paintings, figures and sculptures represent four basic elements (fire, air, water and earth), the universe and the laws of nature. Some of them hang from the ceiling: there is a wing, an apple and a dodecahedron.

T- Centralen

1957, red, blue and green lines

Stockholm’s Main metro station owes its name to the Central Train Station located just outside. It is the only station where all the three main lines connect. It has two platforms; the green and the red line platform is the oldest and more modestly decorated with ceramic tiles resembling traffic signs. The newer blue line platform is more elaborate with relaxing blue leafs and scenes of the workers who built the station.

Kungsträdgården

1977, blue line

Probably the most colourful station it pays tribute to the buildings that were torn down to make space for new developments in the 50s and 60s. Many elements of those buildings were saved and are on display next to the main southern entrance. The richly decorated underground garden describes the history of King’s Garden and the long gone 17th century palace that once stood there.

Thorildsplan

1952, green line

This surface station in Kristineberg was built in the 50s and refurbished in 2008 in order to cover the vandalized original one. The ceramic tiles common in other older designs were used here in a completely different way. The artist was inspired by videogames, so scenes from Pac Man, Mario Bros and other 8-bit pixelated images are found all over the place.

Stadshagen

1975, blue line

Located next to the Stadshagen Stadium, it is entirely dedicated to sports. Its curvy ceiling is painted with grey, with roads leading to different sports. Large boards on the walls contain numerous parallel panels displaying two different images on each side. Depending on the direction you are coming from you can see the Swedish team or the Danish one playing a match.

Västra skogen

1975, blue line

Two branches of the blue line connect on this station on three different platforms. The main area is once again the cave-alike space; the platform walls are made of exposed concrete with occasional ceramic tiles creating colourful patterns. The station includes Western Europe’s longest escalator.

Solna centrum

1975, blue line

One of the most famous metro stations it sends a very strong political message. It addresses the issue of rural depopulation and the destruction of the environment. A burning red colour can be seen behind images of green forests and small cottages. In contrast to pollution, paintings of outdoor activities in clean nature and animals endangered by it.

Rådhuset

1975, blue line

Named after the City Hall, located just outside, it is full of history. The simplicity of its orange-pink bedrock is altered by the base of a huge chimney. Wooden boxes are there to remind us of an old measurement unit called ‘parm’ while numerous bags represent a medieval market.

Stockholm Metro System Map

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2 Responses

  1. Garth
    | Reply

    Wow this is amazing would love to see some of these, especially the 8-bit art. And I’ve been to Stockholm but never used the Metro! next time. Thanks for sharing.

    • happyfrogtravels
      | Reply

      Thanks for your comment. We enjoyed so much taking a ride and visiting random stations. Now you have a perfect excuse to go back to Stockholm!

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