Architecturally, modern Stockholm is one of the finest cities in the world, with broad streets, many parks, and well-planned housing projects. Often called the "Venice of the North," it is built on several peninsulas and islands (including Städsholmen, Riddarholmen, Kungsholmen, and Södermalm islands). Its large bodies of water contribute to a feeling of spaciousness in the city.
Stockholm's most famous landmark is probably the new city hall (1911–23), which faces Lake Mälaren; designed by the Swedish architect Ragnar Östberg, it is an impressive modern interpretation of the characteristic Scandinavian Renaissance style. Also well-known are the large residential districts of cooperative houses that have helped make Stockholm a virtually slumless city.
On Städsholmen, which has retained much of its medieval character, are the Church of St. Nicholas or Storkyrka [great church], dating from the 13th cent.; the Church of St. Gertrude, or the German Church, originally built for the Hanseatic merchants; and several old Hanseatic houses. Also on the island are the Great Square, where the Stockholm massacre began; the Riddarhuset [assembly hall of the nobility], a 17th-century structure in the Dutch Renaissance style and with heroic statues; Tessin Palace (18th cent.); and the Royal Palace, built (1754) in Italian Renaissance style.
Stockholm is the seat of a university (founded 1877), a technical university, a school of economics, and royal academies of music, science, art, and medicine. A Nobel institute is also located there, and the Nobel prizes (except the Peace Prize) are awarded in the city. Also of note are the opera house (opened 1898); the Royal Dramatic Theatre (opened 1908); numerous museums, including the large Skansen open-air museum, a modern art museum (1998), the Vasa Museum (which houses a partially restored 16th cent. warship raised from Stockholm harbor), and the Museum of National Antiquities, with its collection of gold and silver artifacts; and a zoological garden. Stockholm has a lively musical, theatrical, and literary life.