Secret Spaces of Stockholm
One of the first things you notice when you get to Stockholm it that the city is spread over several islands. One of these is a pretty little island called Skeppsholmen that is right in the centre of the city. It has a small park and a few cool museums on it, but its biggest attraction for me has always been what is hidden beneath the ground. Built deep into the rock, there is a series of secret tunnels that were used as the Swedish military command centre during World War II and the Cold War.
In Swedish they are called “Bergrummet” which literally translates to “the mountain room”, but more accurately means any space carved out of the ground. Usually, the tunnels are closed and inaccessible, but on one day every 4 years—the so-called “Secret Spaces” day organised by the Swedish National Property Board—members of the public are allowed to walk through them. So, a few days ago when they were opened, I grabbed the opportunity to explore this secret part of the city!
When I arrived I expected to find a big queue or at least the usual “take a ticket with a number and wait your turn” system you often find in Sweden, but I was surprised. There were people wandering about in the sun, with stalls selling food and drink, but no big queue. In fact it was a bit of a challenge to find the entrance! It turned out to be a small gate built into the side of the rock.
Initially, the tunnel was quite narrow, but it soon opened up to reveal several large caverns. The air was damp and cool inside and lights lined the bottom of the caves, which gave the whole place an eerie yellow glow. In some of the larger areas, there were big displays of equipment and supplies that were used when the tunnels were operational, including some underwater mines and an old machine gun. Every hour or so, an expert gave a talk about the tunnels during wartime. In total, the passages cover over 4,000 square metres below Skeppsholmen, although not everything was open to visitors. Occasionally, I came across a locked door that clearly wasn’t meant to be opened (at least not by me)!
If you are ever in Sweden on one of these “Secret Spaces” days, I definitely recommend taking a look down into Bergrummet on Skeppsholmen. It is one of my favourite places in Stockholm and from now on, every time I walk over this island, I’ll picture the old military men and women moving around in the hidden passages underneath my feet!
Top photo (Skeppsholmen) from Wikipedia.