Photographer's Note

Relaxation, Sunlight, Colours – Järntorget, Old Town, Stockholm

Järntorget (Swedish: The Iron Square) is a small public square in Gamla stan, the old town in central Stockholm, Sweden. Located in the southernmost corner of the old town, the square connects the thoroughfares Västerlĺnggatan and Österlĺnggatan, while the two alleys, Södra Bankogränd and Norra Bankogränd, stretches east to connect the square to Skeppsbron, and two other alleys, Järntorgsgatan and Triewaldsgränd, leads south to Slussplan and Kornhamnstorg respectively.

The second oldest square in Stockholm, slightly younger than Stortorget, Järntorget dates back to around 1300 and remained the city's most important trade centre for centuries — constantly busy and crowded, scents and noise intermixing while goods were transported from shore to shore across the square and up and down the attics of the surrounding buildings.

Originally called Korntorget ("Grain Square"), the square is first mentioned as Järntorget in 1489, both names being used in parallel until 1513 when iron trade had surpassed corn trade in importance. Controlling and putting a charge on the trade meant an important source of income for both the city and the king, and at least from the mid 14th century the city's official scales were located by the southern square on Number 84. Except iron, Sweden exported copper, silver, hide, fur, train oil, salmon, and butter, while importing salt, broadcloth, beer, wine, and luxury items such as spice, glass, and ceramics. During the Middle Ages, the surrounding area was dominated by German merchants, a situation over the century balanced by people from the British Isles, France, and the Netherlands. In medieval times, the square was considerably larger than today. The blocks on the eastern side were aligned to a discontinued alley passing through the blocks south-east of the square (on the left side of Järntorgsgatan), and the square thus encompassed at least half of the present area today occupied by these blocks. In the 16th century sheds were constructed along the eastern side of the square.

In the early 17th century, numerous taverns were located around the square, the signs of which being referred to as The Blue Eagle, The Lion, The Griffin, Three Crowns, The Moon, The Sun, The Star, and The Scales. The city's official scales were relocated to Södermalm in 1662 and the entire area around the square underwent a transformation as wealthy people had taller and more prestigious buildings erected over merged lots. The development was actively supported by the king who wanted the capital to be more representative, the medieval buildings thus disappearing together with medieval alleys. The development was further promoted by the construction of Södra Bankohuset, the national bank building on number 84 in 1680. The building, originally designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder, was subsequently enlarged eastward to the design of other architects, and the lot north of it was purchased for the construction of the northern bank building, Norra Bankohuset. The building remained the headquarters of the Bank of Sweden until the early 20th century.

During the 18th and 19th century, the square was used as a greengrocer's market place and the buildings around it became known as distinguished addresses. Sundbergs konditori, the oldest confectioner's shop in town, on Number 83, was founded in 1785. (Source: Stockholmtravel & wikipedia)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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