Castles and Palaces
Every Castle

Royal Palace of Stockholm

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 years.

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 from 1884.

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.


Royal Palace of Stockholm Map&Location

Stockholm Palace Address: Kungliga Slottet, Stockholm, Sweden. Get help with directions using the map provided bellow:

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Royal Palace of Stockholm Photos

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Royal Palace of Stockholm panorama © Solis Invicti
Royal Palace of Stockholm © Anders Adermark
Royal Palace of Stockholm © Roger Wollstadt
Royal Palace of Stockholm Artillery © Peter Mulligan
Changing of the Guard © Martin Hapl
Royal Palace of Stockholm courtyard © Piero Sierra
Royal Palace of Stockholm facade © Nicolas Fleury
Royal Palace of Stockholm gate © Catherine Joll
Royal Palace of Stockholm guard © Solis Invicti
Royal Palace of Stockholm night view © Kah Wai Lin
Royal Palace of Stockholm detail © Balachandar
Royal Palace in Stockholm courtayd © J. A. Alcaide
Royal Palace Military Band © Eoghan OLionnain
Royal Palace of Stockholm Royal Guard © Claudio Ar
Royal Palace Stockholm courtayd © Charlyn Wee