Stockholm’s Rooftop Tours

Former Traveler photo intern JT Blatty has been spending time in Stockholm, and went out looking to get a new perspective. Read her recent posts on Sweden’s parks and natural foods.

On December 16th, the Swedish tour company Upplev Mer will host the grand opening of Roof Tours By Night: The Dark Secrets of Stockholm, the most recent addition to their first-of-its-kind guided rooftop tours, which began in 2007.

Picture yourself 140 feet above the ground, looking down on the historic quarters of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan (old town). You’re standing on the rooftop of the Old Parliament building, a 13th-century monument on the island of Riddarholmen. Secured by a safety harness to a narrow, metal track running along the perimeter of the roof, you begin to walk in single file behind your tour guide, sliding the safety leash along the track, only an arm’s length from the cast-iron spire of Riddarholmen’s old church, built by Franciscan monks in the 1200s.

With a 360-degree view of Stockholm, overlooking eight of 14 islands upon which the city was built, your guide begins to paint a canvas of Stockholm’s history, bringing it to life with the symbolic icons in view: The Royal Palace, the fortress of Gamla Stan, the three golden crowns of the Nobel Prize shining on the tower of the City Hall, and the 18th-century prison, which once housed over 600 inmates, but was converted into a hotel in 1975, offering a night behind bars for a reasonable price.

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Now with the recent installment of guiding lights along the track, visitors can opt for an after-hours tour. The Dark Secrets of Stockholm

tells stories of murder, mayhem, and mysterious ghost sightings from the city’s history.

Upplev Mer’s innovative approach to historic tourism has taken off since 2007. With the assistance of the Swedish National Property Board, an organization responsible for the preservation of Stockholm’s most historic monuments, Upplev was granted access to construct the original rooftop track, making a structure once closed to the public more than available to visitors.

“Our goal was to get people interested in history… from a different angle,” says Upplev Mer owner Anna Broman.

So, far it seems to be working.

With a fully booked season in 2009, and the increasing demand of a tour that accommodates only 10-15 individuals at a time (due to track weight restrictions), Upplev is currently constructing a second track in Gamla Stan with a slightly different view, scheduled to debut in the spring or summer of 2010. This will coincide with the opening of their newest venue on the Old Parliament building’s tour, tailored for travelers looking to “tie the knot” in a non-traditional way. Rooftop Marriages will begin next spring with Princess Viktoria of Sweden’s marriage to Daniel Westerling on June 19th.

Getting There: Upplev Mer offers public tour bookings through their website, and private tours can be arranged by contacting them directly. The nighttime tours will be offered to the public on Thursdays and Saturdays starting in January and will cost about $60.

Photos: JT Blatty