This central square in Stockholm has been mired in controversy since it was built about 30 years ago. We first visited on a dark overcast day and frankly we found it rather depressing. We visited again when the sun was shining and we saw it in a different light. We still thought, however, that it was dominated by its traffic roundabout and that it is hard to experience as a single coherent space. The square was named after 18th century sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel whose workshop was once located north of here.
After World War II, central Stockholm was completely renewed; a new, modernist 'city' was designed, and a sunken plaza, Sergels Torg, was laid out. Used by thousands daily, the square also became a centre for drug trafficking. Sergels Torg fell into disrepute, which its periodic use for demonstrations and celebrations could not counteract. In the early 2000s improvements were made and the space works much better today.
Sergels Torg consists of a sunken pedestrian plaza with a wide flight of stairs leading up to the pedestrian street Drottninggatan. This plaza is partly overbuilt by a roundabout centred on a modern fountain and glass obelisk and by the concrete decks of three major streets. The interesting glass column almost 40m/130ft high was designed by E. Öhrenström in 1974. North of this traffic junction is a smaller open space overlooked by the fifth high-rise glass-block building along Sveavagen.
On the south side of the square is the House of Culture (Kulturhuset) by Peter Celsing from 1974, with a somewhat dated glass facade. It contains exhibition rooms, restaurants with views of Sergels Torg, a library and reading rooms and the Municipal Theater (Stadsteatern). Go in and have a look at the Designtorget where you will find new ideas and designs for articles that you didn't know you needed. Kulturhuset is made up of several large floors and you may find dance, theatre, music, and exhibitions all happening here.
Sergels Torg is the centre of a complex of streets that cover the heart of the inner city. Drottninggatan goes both north and south. This is the most outstanding shopping street in Stockholm. Street musicians are often here to entertain you when you pass. Åhléns's large department store is here and along Drottninggatan you will find numerous interesting and varied shops for shoes, clothes and everything else. Klarabergegaten leads west past the Klara Church and central station. Hamngatan, with its new tram line, leads east to Kungstradgarden and Norrmalmstorg. All these are major shopping streets. Together with the underground mall east of the pedestrian plaza and the T-Centralen metro station, Sergels Torg forms part of an extensive underground structure that you shouldn’t miss.