Where have all the rats gone Photos capture Stockholm's beautiful subway system after its makeover by artists
The 110 kilometre (68.3 miles) subway is the world's longest art exhibition featuring work by more than 150 artistsAround 90 of the Swedish city's 100 stations feature art works, including sculptures, mosaics and installations
20:48 GMT, 29 November 2012
Travelling on a city's underground system is never expected to be an exciting experience – rather a convenient way of getting from A to B.
But this could not be farther from the truth in the Swedish capital Stockholm, where artists have transformed the city's subway into a gigantic, kaleidoscopic art exhibition.
Around 90 of the city's 100 subway stations have been given a dazzling makeover by over 150 artists, who have been let loose over the last 55 years.
The results are spellbinding, transforming the subterranean transport system into a world of colour and visual stimulation, rather than somewhere to rest amongst the rats while waiting for your train to come.
The makeover has also helped to make the subway system – widely regarded as the most beautiful in Europe – into the world's longest art exhibition, measuring 110 kilometres (68.3 miles).
This series of breathtaking photographs captures the artistic beauty of the subway.
Walking under a rainbow: People pass below one of the huge art pieces in Stockholm's subway
Underground art: The subway system in Stockholm is widely regarded as the longest art exhibition in the world, measuring 110 kilometres
The system features a range of different artistic styles drawn from the art scene in Sweden's largest city over the last 55 years.
The first underground works in the Metro were kick-started by pioneering artists Vera Nilsson and Siri Derkert. Stockholm's first underground line opened in 1950 but the first art installation did not appear until 1957.
Two motions on art in the subway were
submitted to Stockholm City Council in 1955, attracting cross-party approval and
allowing almost 60 years of work to begin.
And it's not just static
painting and sculpture on offer at the subways – art films have been
shown at Skanstull metro station since 2004.
Blood red: A landscape is painted below a red sky. Art installations in Stockholm's subway first started to appear in the 1950s and have been added to since
Into the fiery pits: The red paint on this station's bare rock walls creates an invigorating mood underground
Bus and train stations are also
decorated, although the city's transport operator SL says that the art
has 'heavy demands' place on it, as it must be 'washable, durable,
weather proof and sometimes even have a functional role'.
And the benefits are not just to make
the daily commute a little more pleasant; the company believes it also
helps travellers find their way – and reduces crime.
The SL website states: 'The art
makes the stations perceived as more beautiful, safer and it helps to
make the trip into something more than just a transport between two
This way please: A woman walks at the Stadion subway station in Stockholm. Over 90 of the 100 subway stations in the city have been decorated with sculptures, mosaics, paintings, installations, engravings and reliefs by over 150 artists
Futuristic: People wait for their trains at the Tekniska Hogskolan subway station
Arty: A train leaves the Kungstradgarden subway station in Stockholm, passing the platform that has been painted with stripes
Grotesque: A man walks at the Kungstradgarden subway station past a sculpture showing a distorted face emerging from the wall
Tunnel vision: People travelling on the subway in Stockholm can now enjoy their journeys a little more with all the artwork on display
Colour coordinated: The mural paintings at this station were chosen to complement it's location on the Blue Line Metro
Subterranean: Passengers stopping at this station might wonder if they're in a cave somewhere deep underground
Stockholm's subway system isn't the only one to have undergone a makeover…
Science fiction: A train arrives at the 'Arts et Mtiers' metro station in Paris which was redesigned by Belgian comics artist Franois Schuiten in a style reminiscent of the works of Jules Verne
Colourful: A subway passenger stands on an escalator at the Olaias metro station in Lisbon
Subway passengers walk on a platform of the Olaias metro station. The station is a functional piece of modern art. The high ceilings are supported by huge steel pillars and the exit tunnels are lavishly decorated
Ornate: Subway passengers walk at the Slavyansky Bulvar metro station in Moscow
Lavish: Subway passengers walk at the Kievskaya metro station of the Koltsevaya Line in Moscow. It is decorated in the quasi-baroque style that was popular in the early 1950s
A general view of Komsomolskaya metro station in Moscow. The station is littered with Baroque-style ornaments, rich torchres and chandeliers
Subway passengers walk at the Mayakovskaya metro station in Moscow. Considered to be one of the most beautiful in the system, it is a fine example of pre-World War II Stalinist Architecture
People walk onto the platform as a train arrives at Heidelberger Platz station in Berlin. The underground station designed by German architect Wilhelm Leitgebel opened on October 12 1913
Award-winning: Entrance to Plac Wilsona subway station in Warsaw. Opened in 2005, it won a Metro award for the best recently constructed station in 2008
Shimmering: People walk in Toledo subway station in Naples which was designed by artist Oscar Tusquet Blanca