Exploring Greta Garbo’s Corners in Stockholm

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It’s now been eight days since I landed in Stockholm, Sweden. What am I doing here? Well, as some of you might know, I got accepted to Stockholm University in the master program in Cinema Studies! So, this is my new town for at least a year. School only starts on September 2. Therefore, I’ve had the chance to visit the city and,  I must say that it is truly pretty. I was attracted to Stockholm because that is the birthplace of my idol Ingrid Bergman. So to think that I would be living in her hometown simply thrilled me. Swedish cinema in general also has a good international reputation (Ingmar Bergman) so I thought, for a film student, that would definitely be an interesting place to continue my cinema studies.

But, there’s another grand actress we can associate to Stockholm and that’s Greta Garbo, The Divine. I’m actually renting a room in Södermalm, which is an island and a district in Stockholm. I’m more precisely in the neighborhood of Katarina-Sofia. Well, the other day, Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood, made me realise that Södermalm was actually Greta Garbo’s birthplace! How cool is that?? I’m more precisely at 20 minutes walk from where she used to live. So, I’m obviously thrilled. Because of that, I decided to give myself a “Garbo Day”  last Saturday and visit as many places related to her as I could. Needless to say that it was a busy but totally worthy day. Annnnd a blog article about my visit is in order. So, I’m now inviting you to explore with me the Stockholm of Greta Garbo!

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A young Greta Garbo

I won’t be presenting you the places in chronological order of Greta Garbo’s life, but in the order that I visited them because the words will flow better that way.

Skogskyrkogården (The Woodland Cemetery)

I started my Garbo Day at the Woodland Cemetary where you can visit the Swedish icon’s grave. Skogskyrkogården is by far one of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve seen in my life, for its peacefulness and big threes that create a feeling of majesty. Its construction,  that started in 1917 and ended in 1920, followed an architecture contest held in 1915. The winners were the Swedish architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz. Garbo’s grave, surrounded by flowers,  worths the visit, but it’s surely not the only reason why you should take a walk in this beautiful place. I was saddened, however, to see a group of tourists speaking super loud when they arrived at the place. I don’t think that’s appropriate behaviour for a cemetery. Other Swedish celebrities are buried there such as the young DJ, Avicii.

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PUB Department Store

I then continued my exploration around Haymarket Place where the department store PUB used to be once. Greta Garbo worked there in the hat department and as a model for the store before she started her acting career. The store itself doesn’t exist anymore. Instead, the Art-deco style hotel Haymarket by Scandic stands there, facing the Haymarket place and the Stockholms Konserthus, a concert hall where, every year, the Nobel Prizes Ceremony for literature, physic, medicine, and chemicals take place.

Next to the hotel, you’ll find the lovely Greta’s a café that obviously pays tribute to the Swedish dame. Because I needed to rest a little, I decided to go and enjoy oysters and a drink called French Greta on the terrasse! A bit expensive (of course it would be) but worthy!

Dramaten (The Royal Dramatic Theatre)

Swedens’ National theatre impresses not only for its beautiful architecture but for its significance into the journey of three Swedish movie celebrities: Greta Garbo, of course, who entered the Royal Dramatic Theatre’s Acting School when she was 17; Ingrid Bergman who also was one of its important students and for whom, the only meaning in life was acting; and for Ingmar Bergman who staged 35 plays there. What excited me the most was to think that all these wonderful peoples had climbed those steps before entering a place that changed their life forever. So, I stayed and explored as much as I could. Unfortunately, the doors were closed but, since I’m here for a year, I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to see it from the inside eventually!

Greta Garbo Torg

The evening was at the door, so I went back to Södermalm where I passed by Garbo Square, a small and pretty place.

Home

This eventually and finally led me to Greta Garbo’s childhood house. Garbo was born in a small studio apartment on Blekingegatan 32. The place itself doesn’t exist anymore but “going” there is still significant. Now, there’s (another) apartment building and a restaurant on the ground floor.

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One place that I still need to visit is Filmstaden Råsunda where Garbo started her career as a film actress. However, this film studio is a bit far (about 10 km from Södermalm) so I didn’t really have time to go. But I’ll try to go eventually. Hopefully, they offer guided tours! Maybe they’ll be another part to this article…

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Despite the fact that my Garbo day ended here (well, not completely since I watched Grand Hotel when I came back home- really liked John Barrymore in that), I had a little surprise (always concerning Garbo) when I went to Stockholm University’s Cinema department (Filmhuset) to register for my classes. I swear the cinematic decoration of this place is way beyond cool AND the good surprise is that they have a Greta Garbo film costume exposed in a window! Unfortunately, due to the reflection, I wasn’t able to get a proper picture, but it will give you an idea.

And when I was at Fotografiska (the photography museum) a few days before, I bought five postal cards at the boutique to decorate my room, including this one:

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Visiting these various Garbo-related places surely made me want to watch more of her films and possibly read a biography about her. I feel very priviledged to have the chance to live in her home neighborhood and hope to make the most of it!

Stay around, because, tomorrow, we’re celebrating another great Swedish star: Ingrid Bergman!

See you!

luffar-petter


Sources:

“Filmstaden Råsunda- The Film Guide to Stockholm.” Stockholm, the Capital of Scandinavia. n.d. https://www.visitstockholm.com/the-film-guide-to-stockholm/filmstaden-rasunda/. Accessed Aug. 28, 2019.

“PUB Department Store- The Film Guide to Stockholm.” Stockholm, the Capital of Scandinavia. n.d. https://www.visitstockholm.com/the-film-guide-to-stockholm/pub-department-store/. Accessed Aug. 28, 2019.

“Södermalm- The Film Guide to Stockholm.” Stockholm, the Capital of Scandinavia. n.d. https://www.visitstockholm.com/the-film-guide-to-stockholm/sodermalm/. Accessed Aug. 28, 2019.

” The Royal Dramatic Theatre- The Film Guide to Stockholm” Stockholm, the capital of Scandinavia. n.d. https://www.visitstockholm.com/the-film-guide-to-stockholm/the-royal-dramatic-theatre/. Accessed Aug. 28, 2019.

“Woodland Cemetary- The Film Guide to Stockholm.” Stockholm, the Capital of Scandinavia. n.d. https://www.visitstockholm.com/the-film-guide-to-stockholm/woodland-cemetery/. Accessed Aug. 28, 2019.

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