Visit The Royal Palace of Stockholm
It is hard to miss the imposing structure - 47 000 square meters - that
dominates the Old Town in the centre of Stockholm.
Most tourists at least walk around the enormous cubicle and through its
courtyards, and take a peek at the State Room and the Royal
Chapel. Last year 350 000 visitors also took a tour around the state apartments, or
visited one of the several museums in the building.
One of the capital's best free tourist attractions is the changing of the
guard. You can hear the military band marching up on the Norrbro bridge to the outer Borggård
courtyard with the guard unit of about 50 soldiers led by an officer of rank.
This time-honoured ritual with commands, salutes and the soldiers marching
in impressive drills have taken place here since 1523.
There has existed some kind of a fortress, controlling the waters of the
Baltic and Lake Mälaren, on the site of the present Royal Palace, for about a thousand
Archaeoldgists have found traces of a wooden construction and you can see
other finds from the reconstruction of the House of Parliament on the Helgeandsholmen island
across the Royal Palace, in the Medeltidsmuseum.
In the northern cellar of the Royal Palace of Stockholm you
can still see defence walls from the 13th century as well as rooms that served as kitchen and
storage and are now part of the Tre Kronor museum. Here you can trace the evolution of the
Palace from the small fortress that the founder of Stockholm, Birger Jarl constructed around
1250 to modern times.
The palace got its name Three Crowns in the 1350s when Magnus Eriksson was
king over Sweden, Norway and Scania (Skåne). When Gustav Vasa broke away from the Kalmar Union
with Denmark and Norway, the Stockholm Palace became the king's foremost
residence, and it was extended, by among others the Dutch architect Willem Boy, to become an
imposing renaissance castle.
In the 17th century, Nicodemus Tessin the younger rebuilt the palace in an
Italian Baroque style, that so pleased Karl XI that he had etchings made and sent to all the
world's monarchs. Ludvig XV of France was first to send his compliments.
On May 9, 1697, a catastrophic fire started in a roof of the Royal Palace of
Stockholm. The only part of the palace that was saved was Tessin's newly built northern wing.
Within weeks the architect was ready with plans for a baroque palace that was low and wide in
shape instead of the tower-like old Tre Kronor.
Nicodemus Tessin (1654-1728) was the son of the architect with the same name
who designed the Drottningholm Palace where the royal family now lives.
Tessin the younger had promised that the new palace would take five years to
construct, but the wars of Karl XII and the ensuing lack of funds delayed the project. The
royal family had to wait for a full 50 years in a borrowed palace on the nearby island of
Riddarholmen before they could move in in December 1754.
If you enter the Palace from the southern arch entrance at
Slottsbacken, you have the Stockholm Palace Church on the
right and the State Room on the left. In 1754 Adolf Fredrik, Lovisa Ulrika and the 8-year-old
Prince Gustav (who later became Gustav III) entered their home through this baroque church.
You can go to the Palace Church for a service every Sunday at 11am. You will
seldom see anyone from the royal family attending church. Many of the worshippers here are
employees of the palace or retirees who still have an apartment at the palace.
The Stockholm Palace State Room across the entrance served
as the house of parliament until 1866 and it was also here the televised opening of parliament,
with the marching Karolinian soldiers, was held until 1975.
You can see the silver throne that was a girl to Queen Kristina in 1650, and
that was also used when Carl XVI Gustaf became Sweden's king in 1973. The beautiful room is
used for concerts during the summer and the King celebrated his 50th birthday here, because it
is more spacious than the Karl XI Gallery (page 27).
The Bernadotte Apartment on the second floor of the northern part of the
Palace is a veritable museum over Sweden's present reigning dynasty.
The Bernadotte Gallery has portraits of all Swedish kings and queens since
the French Marshall Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was given the Swedish throne in 1818. Oscar II's
writing room has been very well preserved and here you can marvel at the organ he liked to play
on, and such technological inventions as electric light, installed in 1883, and a telephone
One floor above the Bernadotte apartment lie the ballrooms that are used
three to four times a year for entertaining.
The most beautiful room is Karl XI Gallery that survived the great fire and
is now used for state dinners. Next door lies the "White Sea" room and the cabinet meeting room
where the King meets with the government three to four times a year. Close by is also the
bedroom where Gustav Ill died after the assassination at the Opera.
What makes a tour of the Stockholm Palace so
interesting are all the fascinating artifacts and furniture from the time period. The
rebuilding of the palace brought together some of the most talented crafts people and artisans
from Germany and France as well as different parts of Sweden. The furniture of the Ebeniste du
Roi Georg Haupt and the interiors of Tessin and Hårleman by themselves make a visit to the
palace more than worthwhile.
The Royal Palace also houses the Skattkammaren underground
museum where the national regalia and other treasures are kept.
Adjacent to this you find the Livrustkammaren Armoury that stores the
weapons, clothes and carriages of Sweden's historic regents. Here you can see the blue dress
Crown Princess Victoria wore when she celebrated her 18th birthday and officially came of age,
and Gustav II Adolf's bloody shirt from the battle in Lützen in 1632.
You can also visit Gustav III's hoard of sculptures from his Italian
journey, kept in the Museum of Antiquities which was actually Sweden's first public museum.
Once a month you can also visit the imposing Bernadotte library which was Sweden's public
library until it was moved to the Humlegården park.
What you do not have access to in the Palace is the guest apartment where
Queen Elizabeth of England and Nelson Mandela have stayed.
Neither will you see the Hovförvaltningen court
administration offices where the affairs of the royal family and the many palaces it
administers on behalf of the Swedish state are taken care of.
The administration also runs the Slottsboden gift store
selling classy souvenirs and girl in the outer courtyard. Here you find among other things, a
replica of the Gripsholm china service and items made of the "Royal" Älvdalsporfyr granite.
Palace of Stockholm
Stockholm Palace Address:
Stockholm, Sweden. Get help with directions using the map provided
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