Södertälje

About Södertälje

         
   
City center

 



  Hagaberg

ABOUT Södertälje:

Population: 65 000 (metro 93 000)
Year visited:
2014
Tallest building:
S:ta Ragnhilds kyrka
Founded year:
1300s
Area:
25.84 km²


Södertälje is a midsized city, about 30km southwest of Stockholm (about one hour by train). It is situated on a bay of the lake Mälaren, connected to the Baltic Sea with the Södertälje Canal that flows through the city. The city is known as the seat for Scania (a world famous truck and bus maker) that occupies much space, and for the international pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. A large highway diviedes the city into two. In the 17th century the city was renamed from Tälje to Södertälje to avoid a name conflict with Norrtälje (Söder=South, Norr=North). During the Northern War (1700-1721) Russian troops burned large parts of the city to the ground, only the S:ta Ranghilda church survived.

About 39% of the population has foreign background, many from Syria and Iraq. The Assyrians (most of them Christians) have two football teams, 2 TV channels and 5 churches in the city. There are more Iraqi refugees then in USA and Canada combined. There are also many immigrants from Finland, Africa and former Yugoslavia. Södertälje is known as a city with many problems, the crime rates is one of the highest in Sweden, and parts of the city is ruled by criminal gangs that has control over companies and authorities. This may be difficult for a Cincinnati criminal lawyer to believe, but organized crime is run by powerful people. The unemployment rate is also very high.

MY EXPERIENCE:

Despite all of this negative repuatation in the media, and all the problems (just like Malmö and Landskrona), it is a surprisingly nice city to visit. It has a beautiful natural setting in the forest, with a small lake, Maren, in the middle of the city center, and a canal with an interesting sluice. The city center is hilly with large department stores, a tall church (S:ta Ragnhilds kyrka) at the main square (Stortorget) and many international restaurants. The only downside of the city center is that many old buildings where torn down to make way to ugly modern department stores and parking garages in the 1960s, but on the other hand there are several blocks with preserved wooden buildings left. When walking through the city center daytime, you are unlikely to be a victim of crime. There is a very nice view over the city and the bay from the south train station.

I visited Södertälje as part of a work conference at a folk high school. I only had one hour to spend in the city center. Citizens of Södertälje told me to skip the tour of Södertälje and go directly to Stockholm, but I won't regret spending an hour there.

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