From prayer to purchaser, Stockholm’s Klara District

The Klara Church (Church of St Claire) stands today in the heart of the Central Business District. An anachronistic Christian church in the centre of a tourist pedestrian walking street.

The church was there before the mall around it rose from the ground and will probably remain even after the current trends and brands fade and leave the area.

The Klara Kyrka was originally founded as a Catholic convent in the 1280s. It was the home of the Poor Clares, a contemplative order of nuns. Contemplative orders are cloistered nuns who live separate from the world and spend their religious lives in prayer for the world at large.

The Poor Clares were founded as a Franciscan Order led first by St Clare of Assisi, the religious companion of St Francis of Assisi.

As with the growth of Christianity in the fledging country, the early priory had a prestigious position in the country.

In was exempt from taxes, it was the site of prayer during wars, it was the site where kings made oaths before God.

Under Gustav Vasa who brought Sweden out of the Catholic orbit and into the Protestant world, the nunnery was shut down and its foundations used to construct a tower (Birger Jarls torn) in Gamla Stan. The present church was built in 1572 as a Lutheran parish.

The Klara Church came to lend its name to the area, the Klara area within the larger Norrmalm zone. Originally a parish area (the area under the religous service of the church was known as a parish, the church itself was also called a parish), the Klara district in lower Norrmalm was picked to undergo extensive redevelopment in the 1950s and 1960s.

Stockholm T-Centralen 1957This was a time of renewal, especially after World War 2, where Stockholm was saved from destruction (because it was officially neutral) and underwent a period of rapid urban transformation.

Lower Norrmalm was picked to become part of the larger Central Business District. Development stretched from the Riksdag,

to the Sergels Torg.

Along the way, the Central Train Station and central metrostation was built in a drive to modernise and connect the heart of Stockholm to the whole country.

Then came the shopping malls and the pedestrian mall district.

H&M, Dressman, ESPIRT… you name it.

The Jerusalem of Norrmalm today are the shopping malls, not so much the church hidden in the middle of all the excitement. And still the church stands, more as a tourist site today, and will probably stand after these brands move.



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