Living history museum
Riddarholmen is a living museum that, together with Gamla stan (the Old Town) constitutes the very heart of the history of Stockholm and Sweden. The buildings on the island tell this history, from the Greyfriars' monastery to the magnificent palaces of noblemen to the courts and offices of today.
When the city of Stockholm was founded in the middle of the thirteenth century, Riddarholmen was just bare rock rising out of Lake Mälaren. The townsfolk used the island as pastureland for their goats, and it came to be called Kidskär. The Franciscan order later built a monastery and church on Riddarholmen. The island was then called Gråmunkeholmen (Greyfriars' Islet). During the reformation church properties were taken over by the Crown.
In the seventeenth century, Sweden became a great power, and Riddarholmen took on a classier character. Queen Kristina gave land on the island to noblemen as a reward for services to the kingdom. It was at this point that it began to be called Riddarholmen. A number of splendid residences were built and the monastery church became the church for royal interments. During the restitution of alienated estates at the end of the seventeenth century the gloss faded somewhat from Riddarholmen. However, it came up again when the royal court moved into the Wrangelska palace after the castle burned down.
Today Riddarholmen is dominated by courts and central authorities.
Stroll around the island and enjoy our shared cultural heritage. In Birger Jarl Square there are two tactile bronze models that show what Riddarholmen looked like around 1620, with relics of a defensive tower and walls, and during the glory days around 1750.
Place on map
111 28 Stockholm