Stortorget is the main square in Stockholm’s Gamla Stan, the Old Town area of the city. The name translates to “Big Square” in English, but ironically, it is actually one of the smallest Old Town squares in Europe. Stortorget stands on the site of the original settlement that grew to become the Swedish capital. By 1400, more than 1,600 residents were living around Gamla Stan and stone homes and businesses had begun to spring up around it. The Stock Exchange Building, which today houses the Swedish Academy, the Nobel Museum, and the Nobel Library, was added to one end of the square in 1776. A community well, shown above at left, made the square a natural meeting place for merchants and residents.
Though the well long ago dried up (today it is connected to the municipal water supply), Stortorget continues to be the cultural center of Stockholm. Thousands of tourists visit this plaza each year, especially during its annual Christmas market. With its location just steps away from the the Royal Palace of Stockholm, Stockholm Cathedral, and a multitude of museums, it is the perfect stepping-off point for walking tours of Old Town.