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Stockholm is built on 14 islands in Lake Malaren, which marks the beginning of an archipelago of 24,000 islands, skerries, and islets stretching all the way to the Baltic Sea. Stockholm’s major streets—Kungsgatan (the main shopping street), Birger Jarlsgatan, and Strandvagen (which leads to Djurgarden)—are on Norrmalm (north of the Old Town). Stureplan, which lies at the junction of the major avenues Kungsgatan and Birger Jarlsgatan, is the commercial hub of the city.
East of Stureplan rises Hotorget City, a landmark of modern urban planning, which includes five 18-story skyscrapers. Its main, traffic-free artery is Drottninggatan, a three-block shopper’s promenade that eventually leads to Sergels Torg, with a modern sculpture in its center.
South of Sergels Torg, at Gustav Adolfs Torg, sits the Royal Opera House. A block east of the flaming torches of the opera house is the verdant north-to-south stretch of Kungstradgarden—part avenue, part public park—which serves as a popular gathering place for students and a resting stop for shoppers. From here it is a short walk to the Royal Dramatic Theater and the Royal Opera House, as well as two other city landmarks: the Grand Hotel and the National Museum.
Kungsholmen (King’s Island) lies across a narrow canal from the rest of the city, and is the site of the elegant Stadshuset (City Hall). South of Gamla Stan (Old Town), and separated from it by a narrow but much-navigated stretch of water, is Sodermalm, the southern district of Stockholm. Quieter than its northern counterpart, it’s an important residential area with a distinctive flavor of its own. To the east of Gamla Stan, on a large and forested island completely surrounded by the complicated waterways of Stockholm, is Djurgarden, part of Sweden’s first city national park. This summer pleasure ground of Stockholm is also the site of many of its most popular attractions, including the Vasa Ship museum.