Cave Art of the Stockholm Metro

Stockholm has one of the most spectacular subway systems in the world, the T-Bana, which is quite saying something when you consider the marble palaces of Moscow and St. Petersburg, the concrete cathedrals of Washington, and the archaeological ruins of Athens and Mexico City.

The system is billed as the longest art gallery in the world, which, in a certain respect, is hardly unique. Subways have long been a means by which to bring art to the masses: the classic Soviet systems, Montreal, Los Angeles, Munich. But certain stations in Stockholm, primarily along the city’s Blue Line, are singularly spectacular due to the city’s geology. Due to characteristics of the bedrock beneath the watery city, instead of boring, the metro’s stations and tunnels are simply blasted away – oddly fitting in the birthplace of Alfred Nobel. As a result, the system’s stations are grand cavernous spaces not wholly unlike certain Washington stations in scale, but, with the bedrock left exposed, they feature an eerie, cave-like atmosphere.

In many of these spaces, artists’ imaginations have been let loose on the cave walls. On a recent visit, I spent time exploring three of Stockholm’s most jaw-dropping subterranean galleries: T-Centralen, Kungsträdgården, and Solna Centrum.

T-Centralen

As the name implies, T-Centralen is the metro’s central station, located directly under downtown, where the system’s three lines meet. The older station, servicing the Red and Green lines, is rather utilitarian. But the connected Blue Line platforms form an extraordinary cavern covered in abstract patterns in bright blue and white designed by Swedish artist Per Olov Ultveldt in 1975.

T-Centralen

T-Centralen

IMG_3233

Kungsträdgården

At the end of the Blue Line, below a popular park of the same name, Kungsträdgården takes a different tack, giving the sense of a Roman archaeological dig. Water drips down the walls behind statuary. Walking across a bridge near one entrance to the station, you look down into an overgrown garden of columns and fallen finials – many of them taken from older buildings torn down during the mid-twentieth century redevelopment of central Stockholm. The bedrock walls are left mostly exposed, hidden only by bold murals in red and green and black and white.

Kungstradgarden

Kungstradgarden

Kungstradgarden

Kungstradgarden

Solna Centrum

Where T-Centralen is a cool blue and Kungsträdgården is the steely gray of bedrock, Solna Centrum, farther outside the city center, is blindingly red. As seen in green and black murals along the track’s edge, Solna Centrum is meant to evoke the country’s spruce forests and the towns that harvested their lumber.

Solna Centrum

Solna Centrum

Solna Centrum

56 comments

  1. Reblogged this on thethrivingartist and commented:
    Hope to one day see these in person…These are great pictures of all the cave art!

  2. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  3. Reblogged this on MProse.

  4. Reblogged this on mathiastone and commented:
    Simply artistic

  5. mono · · Reply

    this is really cool 🙂 (and congrats on being fresh pressed!)

  6. What beautiful art. Thanks for sharing.

  7. its beautiful 🙂 thank you.

  8. very creative buildings

  9. Wow, this is really beautiful!

  10. smilyking1976 · · Reply

    Reblogged this on Real Money Making Biz.

  11. Wonderful!!

  12. heroizing · · Reply

    amazing

  13. tangeran9 · · Reply

    Reblogged this on Blog Resmi Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia and commented:
    I like it

  14. Wow. Awesome photos. Keep posting.
    permanentaddress.wordpress.com

  15. smilyking1976 · · Reply

    really awesome

  16. The Teenage Gardener · · Reply

    That’s really cool

  17. Loved the colors. They pop and sizzle.

  18. Spectacular! That’s all I can say.

  19. Stunning photos. Definitely worth a visit!

  20. Interesting piece and really great photos, nice colours in them.

  21. Reblogged this on covetandinspire and commented:
    So gorgeous to see these images! It’s been a few years since I was last on the Stockholm Metro and this post from Duck Pie has made me want to re-visit.

  22. mjh333 · · Reply

    Great post if only UK had more art like this we’d be a much cheerier bunch!

  23. This is so beautiful! I feel like I would definitely miss a few trains checking all of that artwork out.

  24. Great post! Please check out my blog http://queenzey.wordpress.com/

  25. These pictures are beautiful. I’ve often admired subway art and now see some airports incorporating more art into their passageways. But none so far compare to this.

  26. Thanks for blogging this. I had no idea there was such a beautiful space in such a pedestrian/utilitarian environment. I’m in San Francisco Bay Area and use the BART system almost daily, but we unfortunately have nothing in the stations that could even compare. It would be so inspiring, enlightening and enlivening to be surrounded by such beauty while commuting from home to work and back.

  27. You have a good eye for beautiful things. Thanks for sharing!

  28. terihickey · · Reply

    Wow!! Thank you for sharing!!

  29. elizabethweaver · · Reply

    Fabulous paintings…great photographs! Thanks.

  30. elizabethweaver · · Reply

    Reblogged this on Elizabeth Weaver and commented:
    Great photos of wonderful paintings…enjoy!

  31. Well that’s officially awesome. Swedish subway art needs to come to America. There aren’t any subways in my town but I will singlehandedly build some in order to have awesome Swedish adventure caves.

  32. Reblogged this on Everywhere Center and commented:
    These are the kind of architectural marvels I want to yet see. Added to the list of metro stations to visit. Created a list of metro stations to visit. Thanks a bunch.

  33. Reblogged this on Hats at theShop.

  34. super cool!

  35. This is wonderful! I love Stockholm as a city too:-) Charlotte

  36. Wow this is such a fantastic idea! Love it

  37. I was just in Stockholm this March. One of the most beautiful cities! Great post!

  38. Reblogged this on Children's Author and commented:
    Stories like this set my middle grade author brain on DRIVE. I’m imagining a group of art thieves working for a secret society that moves their booty late at night underneath the colorful cavernous subway stations. Can you see it, too?

  39. Reblogged this on Apps Lotus's Blog.

  40. Great post. I like seeing the subway systems of other cities; Stockholm’s looks very interesting. The closest system to where I live is Atlanta’s MARTA, and it’s miserable. Ask any Atlantan and they will agree on that point. Just awful.

    I don’t normally do this, but I’ll plug an article I wrote about Dubai’s metro system – it’s shiny and new and nice-looking, but without the interesting artistic bent of Stockholm and other far older cities’ metros: http://sonatano1.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/a-dubai-travelogue-the-dubai-metro/

  41. Reblogged this on Bild & Pinal and commented:
    Fantastisk utsmyckning ofta bortglömd.

  42. Lili · · Reply

    I love this post! I live in Stockholm myself, so it’s really interesting to see the perspective of someone visiting. My personal favorite station is Kungsträdgården- I always feel like I’m inside a fantasy video game then. It’s a perfect environment for photo shoots. ^^

  43. Reblogged this on nofatarse and commented:
    Marvellous

  44. This is amazing. One for the bucket list methinks

  45. Amazing! Thanks for sharing!

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