The Gripsholm Castle is a Swedish royal fortification and
residence in Mariefred, near Stockholm.
It was begun in 1537 by King Gustav I. It is one of the finest remaining
examples of Swedish architecture of the Vasa dynasty founded by Gustav, and combines
sophisticated Renaissance interiors with a form that remains essentially medieval.
The site, strategic since Viking times, became more important during the
Middle Ages when an estate and castle were erected in 1383 by Chancellor Bo Jonsson.
In 1472 the property was purchased by Sten Sture the Elder (1440–1503), who
donated it in 1498 to a Carthusian monastery. Gustav I seized the property in 1526, claiming
the legal rights of inheritance through his kinship with Sten Sture.
The existing medieval stone keep was inadequate for Gustav, who commissioned
the architect Henrik Cöllen to design a new castle, a practical fortress-refuge for the king,
his family and the royal chancery and treasury.
Defensive in nature, the Gripsholm Castle
has a polygonal plan, with four massive circular towers at the angles. Built of brick, with 3–4
m thick walls surrounded by a moat, it retains a bold, severe appearance with few extraneous
details, although a picturesque element is added by the irregular silhouette of towers and
roofs. A painted ceiling in Halberdiers’ Hall, attributed to Anders Larsson,
survives from 1543.
The year 1578 marked the completion of major restorations initiated by Duke
Karl (later Karl IX), who wanted quarters to befit the position of a Renaissance king; and
further alterations took place during the 1590s.
The 16th-century interiors of Gripsholm castle are among
Sweden’s greatest Renaissance treasures. In the1690s Queen Hedvig Eleonora, a great patron of
art and architecture, commissioned Nicodemus Tessin to change the building substantially with
the addition of a queen’s wing.
Modernization of parts of the interior was initiated by Crown Princess
Lovisa Ulrika in the 1740s, and a theatre in the former church was commissioned in 1781 by
Gustav III from Eric Palmstedt.
Gripsholm is now a museum and houses the National Portrait
Gallery of Sweden, which is under the auspices of the National Swedish Art Museum.
Address: Gripsholms Slott 647 31
Mariefred, Sweden. Get directions using the map provided
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