Kungstornen in Stockholm, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

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This pair of unsuspecting buildings are in fact the very first modern skyscrapers in Europe. 


Skyscrapers are so common nowadays that it is hard to imagine a time when they were new and trendy. But a century ago, this was very much the case. As a product of industrialization, these types of buildings became popular all over the world. As with all new things, there was skepticism and a pioneer was needed to help people get used to the idea. The Swedish architect Sven Wallander was such a man, introducing Sweden, and the rest of Europe to its first pair of skyscrapers. 

While certainly a forward-thinking man, Wallander was by no means quick. Skyscrapers are an American invention, with the first one being built in Chicago in 1885, and many more following behind it. But it took quite some time before this type of building came to Europe. While there were a few older skyscrapers, in the form or large ornamental buildings. Modern skyscrapers had not crossed the ocean until 1924, when these towers were built. 

The first tower is based on the older style of Manhattan skyscrapers in the early 1920s, many elements of which can be spotted in the design of the tower. In fact, Wallander made a study trip to the island to get inspiration for the first ever modern skyscraper in Europe.  

The second tower was designed by Ivar Callmander, who went for a more Art Nouveau style. Both towers had 17 floors and stood 60 meters high, although Callmander added one meter to his tower to have the tallest skyscraper in Europe. The two towers became immediate icons for the city and drew many tourists. It was not long after this that skyscrapers started being built in the rest of the continent.

Know Before You Go

The buildings are private and can only be entered with a keycard. 

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July 7, 2023

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