King Gustav Vasa had Gripsholm Castle built on the site of an old mediaeval fort. It now houses an outstanding collection of furniture and handicrafts spanning four centuries. Duke Charles’ famous chamber dating back to the 16th century, Gustav III’s Theatre from the 18th century and the magnificent portrait gallery are just some of the highlights. Gripsholm Castle is beautifully situated by Lake Mälaren in the town of Mariefred, about 70 kilometres from Stockholm.
Gripsholm came into the ownership of Gustav Vasa in 1526 and 11 years later, in 1537, construction started on the present castle under the direction of Henrik von Cöllen. The castle was built in brick, and the major construction project required a large number of bricklayers. All that remains of the original interior from this time is a painted ceiling. The castle was named Gripsholm after the nobleman Bo Jonsson Grip, who built a fort on the site in 1380.
Royal construction works
During the time of Duke Charles, later to become King Charles IX, there were several rounds of extensive renovations and extensions. These included the construction of a new royal floor with a royal salon, Charles IX’s wing in the outer bailey and Duke Charles’ Chamber, which has been preserved in its original form and is virtually untouched to this day. In the time when the widow queen Hedvig Eleonora had Gripsholm Castle as a fief, new construction works were carried out, including what is known as the Queen’s Wing in the 1690s. In 1708-09 the top floors were renovated and the wings of the castle were given new roofs. For a period after 1715 the castle was no longer used as a royal residence, and during this time some parts were used as a county prison.
Gripsholm Castle Theatre
The reign of King Gustav III was a new golden age for Gripsholm Castle. Developments of this time included the Cavalier Wing for the courtiers and Gripsholm Castle Theatre. Queen Sofia Magdalena had had a simple theatre created in the castle in 1773. In 1781, the architect Erik Palmstedt was charged with the task of transforming it into a true court theatre. The new castle theatre was completed in 1782, in one of the castle’s round renaissance towers, with a new stage and machinery that made it possible to change the backdrops. The theatre is now one of the best-preserved 18th century theatres in Europe.
The National Portrait Gallery
Gripsholm Castle houses the National Portrait Gallery with more than 5,000 works, featuring examples of changes in the art of portrait painting from the 16th century to the present day. The collection was founded in 1820, and since the 1860s it has belonged to the National Museum. There is a lot of interesting art on the walls at Gripsholm, one example being a family portrait of the present royal family. This was painted by John-Erik Franzén in 1984-85.
Model Chamber accessible to all
The Model Chamber is in the cellar level of the Hauptman Wing. There are no lifts or ramps to the other public floors in the castle. The Model Chamber and the castle shop are the only rooms that have been adapted for accessibility. In the Model Chamber there are five wooden models depicting how the castle has been expanded and changed down the years.
One of the Royal Palaces
Gripsholm Castle is owned by the Swedish State and managed by the Swedish National Property Board. The castle is now covered by the royal right of disposition, which since 1809 has given the Swedish monarch the right to make use of the royal palaces.
- Audio guide
- Guest harbour
- Guided tours