My words, thoughts and photos from a Swedish perspective


A very nice place to visit is Drottningholm on Lovön near Stockholm. I spent an afternoon on a restday there just strolling around, taking pictures and I really enjoyed it. This is the sight that meets the visitor when coming from the car park.

Suitable music must accompany this blog post and the only possible choice is a suite from “The Drottningholm Music” composed by Johan Helmich Roman for the wedding between Crown Prince Adolf Fredrik (of Holstein-Gottorp) and Lovisa Ulrika of Prussia (sister to Fredric the Great) in 1744.

The first records of Drottningholm are from Gustav Vasa’s time (ruled 1523-1560). It was then a farm named Torvesund that belonged to the crown. His son Johan III, who loved architecture and building palaces, decided in 1579 that a palace should be built on the premises. The palace was namned Drottningholm after his queen Katarina Jagellonica (drottning = queen in Swedish). After her death he rarely paid the place a visit and last time he set foot there was in the summer of 1592.

A number of owners succeded each other. Some were members of the Royal family, others were members of the nobility and around 1650 the palace was taken over by Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie who took an interest in the palace and renovation works commenced in cooperation with the architect Jean de la Vallée.

In 1661 it was time for a new owner to take over. The buyer was Queen Hedvig Eleonora, but her happiness did not last very long. On December 30 1661, the palace was destroyed by fire and only the vaults and walls remained of what had been a house with about 20 rooms on the ground floor, 10 rooms on the first floor, a salon with 36 windows and a chapel. Johan III’s Drottningholm was gone.

It did not take long before the architect Nicodemus Tessin sr was asked to submit a suggestion for a new palace to be built on the remains of the old one and in spring of 1662 he presented drawings that met with the queen’s approval. The main building was completed in june 1664 and got the roof on the following year but Drottningholm remained a construction site for decades with Tessin sr in charge until his death in 1680 succeeded by his son Nicodemus Tessin jr.

Drottningholm is a baroque palace inspired by French-Dutch classicism. Symmetry was the highest fashion during the baroque and I therefore tried to take the pictures with that in mind simply because that was how the architects wanted (and expected) visitors to look at Drottningholm.

The palace and its exterior is mainly the work of Tessin sr while the interior and the garden are designed by Tessin jr. Fountains were a must in those days but they never worked as intended despite the fact they were constructed by a French expert and some of the fountains – the cascades – were torn down in the 1820’s because of malfunction. These were later reconstructed according to Tessin’s drawings but are slightly simplified by architect Ivar Tengbom and were opened by king Gustav VI Adolf in 1961. Thanks to modern pipes and pumps they now work as intended, even if it took about 300 years to accomplish.

Time passes and new fashions, needs and standards as result. After the Tessin family, the architects Jean Eric Rehn, Carl Hårleman and Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz were involved in adapting the palace to the new tastes and needs.

Drottningholm has been the Royal ladies’ palace. Lovisa Ulrika got the palace as wedding gift in 1744 and she liked spending time there with her family. The wings got their second storey during her ownership to accomodate a library and a portrait gallery.

Lovisa Ulrika sold the palace to the state in 1777 and a long period of neglection began. Her son Gustav III spent time here with his court and he asked the architect Fredrik Magnus Piper to lay out the English park, but he turned his attention to the construction works at Haga instead.

The decline lasted until 1846 when king Oscar I began a renovation of the palace, partly financed by money from the king’s own pocket. A thorough renovation began in 1907 when Gustav V succeeded to the throne. The renovation work was completed in 1911 and palace architect Erik Lallerstedt was in charge. Drottningholm has been used by the Royal family since then and our current Royal family made Drottningholm its home in 1981.

Drottningholm was listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1991 and I think it definitely fits in there. I have more pictures to share with you in two blog posts and I think you will agree with me after having read them.



2 responses

  1. imac

    Very Majestic building and lovely grounds.

    06/09/2011 at 22:18

  2. Staffan H

    imac: Indeed! 😀

    07/09/2011 at 01:22

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