As the name suggests, Långholmen is a long and narrow island. In older times, it consisted of lean pastures situated amongst bare rocks. On the island, there are traces of ancient dwellings dating back to the 10th century. In the 19th century, a silver hoard of German coins minted in the 10th century was found here. The island was first mentioned in historical documents in 1435. These medieval documents relate that Sweden’s Council of State held a meeting in Långholmen.
Another historic event was that Gustav Vasa stationed his troops on the island before occupying the city in 1523. Långholmen belonged to the Crown until 1647 when Queen Christina donated the island to Stockholm City.
The First Settlement
In 1622, a marine customs house was set up on the island. It operated until 1857. Moored by the customs house were fast sailing yachts that could chase and bring back vessels that “forgot” to go through customs. The great expansion of shipping on Lake Mälaren in Sweden’s Age of Greatness prompted the establishment of a shipyard for building small craft at Pålsundet (the channel between Söder Mälarstrand and Långholmen) in 1685.
In 1649, the wealthy brewer Jochum Ahlstedt rented parts of the island and began cultivating them. He built a majestic residence, Alstavik. The residence was acquired by the State in 1724 and converted into a spinning house, i.e. a penal institution for women.
The prison operations were expanded afterwards and came to dominate the island for 250 years. During the prison epoch, some large private buildings were also erected on the island. The waterfront to Mälaren was embellished during the latter half of the 19th century. Large quantities of soil were laid on the rock and 3000 trees were planted by the prisoners. Thanks to this, the island is a green oasis. At the beginning of the 20th century, the City planned to make a park on the eastern side of the island, and some paths and planted areas were laid out. It is now that the island lived up to its reputation – the green island in the heart of Stockholm. The prison was closed down in 1975.
A New Era
For a while, the prison buildings were falling into decay and quite a lot had to be demolished later. In 1989 opened Långholmen’s Hotel and Youth Hostel with inn and conference space. A new era starts and now everyone can enjoy the beautiful island with its captivating history.