Gamla Stan is one of the 14 islands that Stockholm is built on and one of the world's best-preserved medieval city centres.
Before Stockholm sprawled out to neighbouring islands the whole city was once limited to this small island, referred to historically 'as the city between the bridges'.
The island city grew into a mess of winding streets and ramshackle houses until most of the western half burned down in 1625.
Meandering alleys lined with crooked buildings can be found here
some of which are extremely narrow
as well as imposing architecture
lots of craft and tourist shops
and lots of cafes where Swedes indulge in fika, a ritual of afternoon coffee and cake, an important aspect of social and cultural life.
There are sculptures in the squares
this one is Jarntorget where we sat for afternoon tea
or by the metro station.
There are churches
including the Cathedral
Arched alleyways are to be found everywhere
We were intrigued by three consecutive ones
that led to
this gorgeous courtyard, Brantingtorget
with a dramatic fountain in the middle
The Palace, Kungliga Slottet, is here
with the Hogvakten, the Royal Guards
and where we happened to witness the changing of the guards.
A game of boules was going on in a nearby square.
We walked all around the small island, reached the north end where we could see the district of Norrmalm across the water
and ended up in Jarntorget, that was buzzing with people sitting in the outdoor cafes
we were lucky to find a table here, Café Nova
We were intrigued by these which are to be found all over the city and which cover the windows of any building that is in the process of being renovated - a very clever idea, we thought.
We then crossed the Norbro bridge that had been taken over by the Gumbo 3,000 event
but which still afforded great views
we could not see much of the Opera House as it was hidden by the huge stage that had been set up.
We walked to Nybro where we took the ferry
and then another ferry that took us back to Slussen, the bridge that connects Gamla Stan and Sodermalm which is where we were staying
This was our first sighting of the open views that this city affords
and which make it such a wonderful place to be.