Tomas Zagoda

Deep beneath Sweden’s largest city sprawls the Stockholm Metro, which unusually doubles as one of the world’s longest public art galleries. Stretching 110km in length, the extensive network of trains stop at over 90 individually decorated stations. Over 150 artists have contributed to creating a little bit of happiness for the journeys of nearly 900,000 daily commuters by making the stations more interesting with sculptures, paintings, murals, illustrations, engravings and mosaics.

Stockholm metro

Beginning in the 1950’s, the artistic program has been a great hit with locals and travellers. Some stations were built in collaboration with engineers, architects and artists who came together to create a seamless environment rather than placing artworks into a pre-existing space. Instead of smooth, pedestrian walls, some stations are sprayed with thick layers of concrete over rocks, which give the impression of the station being carved out of a cave. Six of the stations house temporary artwork, to be replaced a few times a year, allowing emerging artists a platform to showcase their work. This also lets some pieces that might not withstand the harsh environment of a subway system to be shown.

Seeing these pieces is as easy as purchasing a 24-hour public transport ticket from any train station information booth or selected ticket machines. Our suggestion is to avoid the morning peak-hour crowds and instead get a delicious coffee from the hipster neighborhood Södermalm and set a few hours aside to take your time exploring.

Here are some station highlights to get you started. With over 90 different stations, you could explore for days.

Blue Line

Solna Centrum:

One of the most visually striking stations, Solna Centrum’s exposed bedrock has been painted a vivid green and red with a huge mural covering an entire wall depicting the destruction of forests and nature. It’s a lot less gloomy than it sounds. Locals and travellers alike shamelessly wait for the escalators to clear before running in for a quick picture. So much so that the official Stockholm tourist board believes this is the most photographed station in the city.

Solna Centrum

Kungsträdgården:

Blue and red stripes line the polished floor, while a quilt like pattern decorates the roof. Just be careful as you crane your neck upwards not to walk into anyone.

T-centralen:

Blue and white Greek leaf patterns sprawl across the cave-like ceilings and blue silhouettes of workers rushing by decorate this station. The upper and lower levels are both are worth checking out.

T-centralen

Rådhuset:

Ancient Roman ruins are not something you would expect in Scandinavian Stockholm, a fact that makes Rådhuset Station all the more fascinating. Here the walls have the appearance of an archeological dig site, where some secrets of the past have only partially been revealed to curious eyes.

Rådhuset

Green Line

Thorildsplan:

Fans of retro gaming will fall in love with Thorildsplan Station. Hundreds of individually colored tiles lovingly depict characters from Super Mario Brothers, Pac-Man and other iconic 8-bit game characters from the 80’s and 90’s.

Red Line

Stadion:

Stadion Station will mesmerise you with the enormity of its design. The cave-like station has been painted sky blue with a huge rainbow stretching from one side of the main tunnel to the other. Perfect for a famously LGBT friendly city like this one.

Stadion Station

Regular public tours from expert guides run all year, though for a first experience, we recommend getting an all-day ticket and exploring the longest gallery in the world at your own pace. More than 90 of the 100 train stations have been transformed so far, with plans to continue the program well into the future. Next time you’re in Stockholm, be sure to head below ground for this must see buried treasure.

 

Tomas Zagoda is an Australian based media producer, filmmaker, writer, coffee addict and tall person who does not play basketball. Follow him on Instagram @TomasZagoda to keep up with his latest adventures.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.

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