Stockholm's Kungsträdgården has everything one could want in a great square. It features an esplanade leading from the city center to the waterfront, as well as a large water feature that doubles as a major event space. It has a performance stage and amphitheater seating for events. The space becomes a skating rink in the winter. It's also well-connected: Two parallel promenades lead from this green oasis in the center of the city down to the waterfront.

Kungsträdgården is unique in that it is designed to have various "rooms," including gardens, fountains, and grassy areas, all of which offer flexibility and space for a vast array of activities. It also connects multiple parts of the city to the waterfront and the historic areas of Stockholm.

All together, these elements add up to one of the most diverse and important squares in Europe, and place it on our list of Great Squares. It is a space that has changed quite a bit over its lifetime -- we originally wrote about it after it was redesigned in 1998. Today, we are revisiting Kungsträdgården, highlighting what makes it such an excellent gathering place in the heart of Stockholm.

Water Feature and Event Space

In the upper part of the square, a major water feature offers a memorable place to sit, splash, or, from time to time, enjoy events and programming. The design of the fountain makes it multi-functional, and the steps that surround it invite lingering and people-watching.

The Main Stage and Central Gathering Place

Nearby to the fountain is a stage that anchors Kungsträdgården as a place to meet up or check out some live music. It offers ample space for different types of events, whether they call for a dance floor or lines of benches for the audience!

Central Area - Amphitheater

Circling the center of the Kungsträdgården is a ring of ledges for sitting: These ledges are a simple but well-used viewing point for the many goings-on that occur in the square year-round. More recently, turf was added to this space; a significant upgrade from the pea gravel that was used before. Now, people can comfortably lay down, play, and spread out more comfortably than ever before.

After turf was added, cartwheels and summersaults galore.

The ledges around this central space provide a great additional perch to complement any benches set up for events. Because the square is so well-programmed, it is crucial to have ample seating for those actively participating or for those who would rather watch from afar.

Central Focal Point

Always a draw, this area (and its statues) are central to the identity of the Kungsträdgården. The statues invite all sorts of opportunities for seating or play; sitting atop one of the lion statues is a particular visitor favorite!

Promenade Down to the Waterfront

Kungsträdgården's path down to the waterfront is, in and of itself, an exciting connection and place to stroll. But to add to its appeal, opportunities for dining abound along the promenade.

Other Treasures

What is so special about Kungsträdgården is its variety – it features various other corners and fountains that make it one of Stockholm's most well-loved public spaces. In any one of its "rooms," one might stumble across a perfectly shaded spot to sit, or a place to grab coffee or a snack.

Central Waterfront and Historic Center of Stockholm


  • Kungsträdgården features a wide variety of places, sometimes referred to as separate "rooms" which include everything from fountains to event spaces, statues to promenades.
  • It is well-connected to the waterfront and to the historic center of Stockholm.
  • Its greenery and ample seating options enhance the comfort of visitors.

The following articles touch on and enhance the understanding of how successful outdoor spaces and "rooms," such as Kungsträdgården, can provide the comfort needed to create a sense of place.

Creating Catalytic Public Squares, Our work, Part I
What great squares have to offer their communities is limitless. Above all, it’s the social life that works in these squares: What are perhaps the most magical parts about these places are the simple, crucial chance encounters that allow us to have with others.
Time-Honored Places: The Public Square, Part II
Public Spaces as squares are plazas in Spain, Latin America, and sometimes the U.S., piazzas in Italy, platz in German-speaking countries, and simply “square” everywhere in between. In many small towns they have the Village Green. In essence they are the main gathering places for people.
Squares are the Hearts of Communities, Markets Their Soul: How Cities Put Them Together and Thrive
Exploring the powerful, mutually beneficial connection between market and square in cities around the world
Please Just a Nice Place to Sit
A well-designed seat placed in the right location sets the stage for lively activity along a sidewalk, in a park, or on a waterfront.
The Magic of Luxembourg Gardens
The magical appeal of Luxembourg Gardens is simply that people feel welcome to eat, relax or stroll. But it’s under-pining is that, it’s all about just a nice place to sit
Play Sculptures
Play-friendly sculptures can be a part of making someone’s visit to a park particularly memorable, whether that’s by bringing a beloved character to life, or offering a landscape for play unlike any other.

Where do we think our future could be?

Next Steps for the Global Placemaking Movement
Imagine if the places where we live were shaped for, and from, our social lives, re-imagined to make it easy for us to gather, shop, have fun, eat together, and be around people different from us. we would collectively have an impact on the health of our planet.

Who We Are

The Place Man Documentary
We recently attended a pre-premiere of The Place Man, a new documentary about our work in placemaking over the last 50 years, made by the wonderful Guillermo Bernal. It got us thinking about the state of the placemaking movement and what’s next.
The mission of the Social Life Project is to incite a renaissance of community connection in public spaces around the globe. Our work grows out of more than 50 years devoted to building the global placemaking movement. It is an initiative of the Placemaking Fund, along with PlacemakingX — a global network of leaders who together accelerate placemaking as a way to create healthy, inclusive, and beloved communities. Through our online publication, presentations, campaigns, and catalytic projects, we can create transformative impact on communities everywhere.If you are interested in our helping to build a community-wide campaign or catalytic interventions, presentations, exhibits, and more or supporting the cause contact us.

"There are more and more of us fighting for a different vision of the world—a world that takes care of our most precious resources: the air we breathe, the water we drink and the places we share." Mayor of Paris France
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