Prästgatan (Priest Street) is in the Old Town, stretching from the cul-de-sac at Storkyrkobrinken near the Royal Castle to Österlånggatan on the south side of Gamla Stan (route in red on the map), situated within the old city wall that then surrounded the town.

Leif's first Walkabout in Stockholm took him through Gamla Stan (Stockholm's Old Town) ..in the heart of Stockholm. He also ventured into ..the old navy shipyards at Djurgården and the surrounding islands

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The northern part of the Prästgatan street was previously (1700-1800) called Svenska Prästgatan (Swedish Priest Street), named after the Swedish priests in Storkyrkan, and the southern part was called Tyska Prästgatan (German Priest Street) after the German Church and the large German merchant community in Gamla Stan.
The very short piece north of Storkyrobrinken was named Helvetiegränden (Hell Street) in the area called Hell. There are different views on why this area got its name, maybe because the town executioner lived there.

Thankfully, significant changes in the naming convention left us with just Prästgatan.
I pick a sunny Sunday morning when I’m able to see the early morning sun shining on the richly colored (red, yellow and brown) house facades. I stop for a moment and smell the water and a slight scent of newly mowed grass on a small island around the old town. This is only possible in the morning until higher temperatures and traffic take over. I feel the uneven surface of cobblestones under my feet — all streets in Stockholm were at one time covered with cobblestones, but they are mostly gone by now. I’m very happy some streets in Gamla Stan are still covered with them, helping preserve the character of the oldest part of the city.
I continue walking along. Suddenly I remember my grandfather, happily singing the song "Serenad i Prästgatan." This song was written by Swedish poet Evert Taube in 1928 while at his favorite restaurant, Gyllene Freden (The Golden Peace). This memory fills me with joy and I become aware of the deep, deep soul of Stockholm.

Serenaden i Prästgatan

Ah, ah, haha! mina bröder!
Ett fönster står öppet åt söder!
Undan gardin! Fram min blondin!
Skynda, mitt hjärta förblöder!
Stjärnan på himlen den höga
sig speglar förtjust i ditt öga!
Är hon blondin? Ja, hon är fin!
Dock solosång båtar oss föga.
Men stuprännan ger en chans, kavaljer!
Jag klättrar opp och sedan ner!
Blondin med de rosende kinder
och gyllne böljande hår!
Med barm lätt beslöjad och trinder
du i ditt fönster står.
Prästinna i prästgatans vimmel l
åt upp din port och sal,
ty längs stuprännan upp till din himmel
är vägen allt för hal.

Ah, ah, haha! my brothers!
A window is open to the south!
Put aside the curtain! Come out my blond!
Hurry, my heart bleeds to death!
The star high in the sky reflect
keenly in your eye!
Is she blond? Yes, she is nice!
However, solo solo song gain us little.
But the drain-pipe gives a chance, cavalier!
I climb up and then down!
Blondie with the rosy cheeks
and golden flowing hair!
With thinly veiled bosom
and voluptuous you stand in your window.
Priestess of the Priest Street crowd
open up your door and hall,
because along the drainpipe up to your heaven
the path is too slippery.

The first item of interest on my walk is Ankargränd (Anchor Alley), the intersection between Trångsund Street and Prästgatan, just west of the Church Storkyrkan (Stockholm Cathedral). Derived from Marcus Andersson Ankar, in 1704, and his simple eating establishment (it would be called fast-food today), Ankaret (The Anchor) is at number 5 in front of the church. While the restaurant was in operation in the late 17th century, the present name of the alley is first mentioned in 1731. Until then it seems to have been a nameless backstreet. The present building was built to the plans of Erik Palmstedt in 1772, and retains its original appearance with its Rococo corner facing Prästgatan and small barred windows. The famous Swedish poet and songwriter Cornelius Vreeswiik’s Museum is located at Ankargränd/Trångsunds gatan.

I continue my walk, still having the song in my head. I’m walking toward the intersection of Kåkbrinken, where I find a very interesting rune stone (runsten) in the wall, with the inscription "Torsten and Frögunn had this stone erected after their son." It was probably brought to Stockholm to be used as building material, from where is not known. As the female name Frögunn is considered pagan, the stone is believed to date back to 1070-1100, thus being about 200 years older than the city of Stockholm.
I see some interesting outlets in the walls of other buidings. I wonder about them and find out they are waste pipes from the 17th century, where waste came out of the apartments and went directly into the street. To avoid smell and hazards with waste decay, the landlord had to clean the pipes daily, then they flooded the street with water so the waste would move into Lake Mälaren or the Baltic Sea. The waste pipes were put underground in the 1860s.
I look up and see more than the blue sky. Some sort of hooks hang at the top of the buildings. They are attic lifts for hoisting up goods to storage spaces. Space was scarce in the Old Town, then as now. The merchants needed to have storage somewhere and the best place was the attic. Here was space otherwise unused, and it was far away from the streets and people who could steal their goods.
Filled with new knowledge about storage of goods, I continue my walk on Prästgatan’s cobblestones and see “Morten Trotzig Gränd” on my right, the most narrow alley (gränd) in Stockholm, just under three feet wide and 27 yards long. I covered the history of Morten Trotzig Alley in an earlier walkabout story from Stockholm Old Town.
To the left I see the German Church (Tyska kyrkan), sometimes called St. Gertrude’s Church, belonging to the German Saint Gertrude Parish of the Swedish Church. It is one of the most beautiful churches in Stockholm and I will spend some time to explore it.
A little further down the street I come to another most interesting place in Gamla Stan: the birthplace of the artist Carl Larsson. Carl Larsson was born on May 28, 1853, at 78 Prästgatan. His parents were extremely poor, and his childhood was not happy.

As an adult, Larsson moved to Paris in 1877 after working for several years as an illustrator of books, magazines and newspapers. There he spent several frustrating years as a hardworking artist without much success. Larsson was not eager to establish contact with the progressive French Impressionists; instead, along with other Swedish artists, he cut himself off from the radical movement of change and settled down with his Swedish painter colleagues in 1882 in Grez-sur-Loing, at a Scandinavian artists' colony outside Paris. It was there that he met the artist Karin Bergöö, who soon became his wife, a turning point in Larsson's life as well as his career. In Grez, Larsson painted some of his most important works, in watercolor and very different from the oil painting technique he had previously employed. Eventually, he and Karin returned to Sweden and raised their family in the home they made famous, Little Hyttnäs, in Sundborn. Carl and Karin painted everything in the house, which is now a museum, in their own infamous style.
After another five minutes, I come to Österlånggatan, where my walk is reaching its end. I go toward Kornhamns Torg (Corn Harbor) for an early lunch in one of the restaurants with street seating.

My Prästgatan walkabout is built on family memories when we spent early Sunday mornings exploring this wonderful city’s "Old Town." I hope it's of interest to readers, too.

By Leif Rosqvist

• The song "Serenaden i Prästgatan" with Evert Taube can be found on YouTube
• The Mårten Trotzig walkabout is also available at www.newsweden.org/culture and heritage.

Leif Rosqvist's first Walkabout in Stockholm took him through Gamla Stan (Stockholm's Old Town) ..in the heart of Stockholm. He also ventured into ..the old navy shipyards at Djurgården and the surrounding islands