The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is located in the middle of Gamla Stan and together with the changing of the guards in the courtyard it attracts many visitors. The palace was built in Baroque style by architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger and its shape is meant to resemble a Roman palace.
The Royal Palace houses many interesting sights: Apart from the State Apartments there are four museums of royal history - Skattkammaren (Royal Treasury) with the royal regalia of Sweden, the Tre Kronor Museum, which depicts the palace’s medieval history, Gustav III:s Museum of Antiquities showing a collection of sculptures from ancient times and Livrustkammaren (the Royal Armoury) with clothes and other objects that are tied to Sweden’s regents and their families.
Stockholm Palace has a history that spans over many centuries and the development of the Roman Baroque style palace we see today was once a medieval citadel and renaissance palace. Today the King and Queen have their offices in the palace and the King’s administration, the Royal Court of Sweden, manages its activities from here. The official representation of the head of state is also partly carried out in the palace.
From citadel to renaissance palace
Construction of the castle Tre Kronor (Three Crowns) began in the 13th century. At that time the keep was only surrounded by a simple defensive wall and the location was strategically chosen since it was possible to control the shipping between lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea.
During the 16th century, king Gustav Vasa chose to emphasise Tre Kronor’s defensive function by building a moat and adding sturdy round corner towers that were equipped with canons. However, in the end of the century the function of Tre Kronor as a citadel began to be dismantled and instead the role as a representative royal house was highlighted. Beginning in the 1580’s, Johan II turned the old castle into a magnificent renaissance palace.
King Karl XI wanted Sweden’s role as a great power to be manifested and in the 1680’s he therefore hired architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger to do a reconstruction. 1692 saw the start of a total rebuild of the northern row.
Tre castle on fire
On May 7th 1697 something happened that would change the Stockholm cityscape forever. A fire erupted at the Tre Kronor palace that destroyed the entire building complex. The fire spread from the Hall of State to the keep Tre Kronor, where the fire quickly gained momentum in the timber joists. The cannons came crashing down into the Queen’s wine cellar and the steeple with the three golden crowns were engulfed in a sea of fire.
Thanks to the resourcefulness of servants at the palace, many valuable objects could be saved from being destroyed by the fire, among other things the supply of silver. Among the cultural-historical treasures that could not be saved were two thirds of the royal library and a third of the public record office. These operations resided in the palace.
How could it happen?
The Tre Kronor Palace had been on fire several times before, the latest incident taking place in 1648, but the entire building complex had not been affected at those times. On May 7th 1697 the servants who were on fire watch were negligent in their duties. When the fire took hold above the State Hall in the older part of the castle the fireguards where not in place. The fire marshal also ran a speakeasy and had sent his fireguards out to do his private errands. The punishments was severe and the fire marshal was sentenced to death which was mitigated by the king to seven gauntlet runs. As an older man he did not survive this punishment.
The new Roman Baroque palace
In a decision made the day after the fire, Nicodemus Tessin the Younger was given the task by Queen dowager Hedvig Eleonora to create designs for the new palace. Tessin used the preserved northern row as his basis when he designed the rectangular Roman Baroque palace that we see today. After Tessin the Younger’s death in 1728, Carl Hårleman took over as architect for the palace construction. The work on Stockholm Palace occupied him for the rest of his professional life and the castle was not completed until 1754, the year after his death. Later several changes have been made to the apartments, depending on how the royal families have used the palace.
The state apartments consist of the Bernadotte Apartment, the Banquet Apartment, the Guest Apartment, the Halls of the Orders of Chivalry and the Hall of State. They are on display all year around.
Preserved medieval brickwork and several museums
Remaining of original Tre Kronor castle is only the basement rooms in the northern row and the oldest parts are from the 14th century. Residing in these facilities is the Tre Kronor Museum. The southern section of the Tre Kronor Palace, with among other things the keep, was located on a higher level than today’s palace. Thus there are no wall remnants left of this part of the old castle. However there are steps and brickwork preserved under the northern section of today’s interior courtyard.
Gustav III:s Museum of Antiquities is one of Europe’s oldest museums and it opened its doors to the public in 1794. Here you can find sculptures that were purchased by Gustav III during his trip to Italy in 1783-84. The museum is located in the northeast wing.
Skattkammaren (the Royal Treasury) is located in the vaults deep underneath the Royal Palace. Here the Crown of Sweden and the Royal Regalia are on display. Several crowns, scepters and jewellery can also be seen here.
Livrustkammaren (the Royal Armoury) is located in the Royal Palace, and on display here are objects that are tied to Sweden’s regents, their families and the Swedish Royal Court.
- Guided tours
Place on map
111 30 Stockholm
- Building years: 1697-1754
- Architect: Nicodemus Tessin the Younger