Step inside the Royal Palace of Stockholm
Royal Palace of Stockholm key facts
- One of the largest palaces in Europe, the Royal Palace of Stockholm is 230 (750 ft.) metres long and 125 metres (410 ft.) wide.
- Completed in 1760, the imposing regal building is modelled on a Roman Palace.
- The Royal Palace stands on the same site as the medieval Tre Kronor Castle, which was destroyed by fire in 1697.
The Royal Palace of Stockholm stands proudly on Slottsbacken in the Swedish capital’s charming Old Town. Designed by master architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger – this enormous jewel of a regal building was inaugurated in 1754, providing a home for King Adolf Fredrik and Queen Louisa Ulrika. It was also built to house the central Swedish state administration and the Royal Library, hence its mighty size.
Tessin learnt his craft in France, Italy and England, where he studied architecture and landscape gardening for many years. A former pupil of Lorenzo Bernini, he drew heavily on the Baroque architecture of Rome – which explains why he decided to model The Royal of Palace of Stockholm on a Roman palace.
Stockholm Palace is said to be one of the oldest castles still serving as an official royal residence. With over 600 rooms spread across eleven floors, it provides plenty of space today for King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. The King and Queen also use the palace as a workplace and a highly impressive venue for receptions, such as state visits.
A Swedish palace with a history dating back to the 10th century
The majestic palace is not the first Swedish royal residence to be built on this centrally located spot. Tre Kronor Castle, which was catastrophically destroyed by fire in 1697, stood on the same site, but its dramatic history stretches back even further. Timber structures from the 10th century found during archaeological excavations are believed to be actual castle remnants – or at least pieces from a barrier-fort. A letter dated 1252 from the famous Swedish statesman Birger Jarl and his son Valdemar is the oldest definite record of the castle’s existence.
The door to the Royal Palace, with many of its historically significant treasures and sites, is open to the public all year round, allowing access to several stately areas as well as three resident museums – Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities, Museum Three Crowns, and The Treasury. Each paints a fascinating picture of royal history and how the monarchs lived through the centuries.
Some of the key palace sites and its treasures.
The Royal Apartments – the stately heart of the Stockholm Palace
Step inside the awe-inspiring staterooms – or the Royal Apartments as they’re collectively called – and you’ll find yourself in the magnificent environs in which medal presentations and major state occasions are held.
Most of the interiors under these soaring ceilings date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Each monarch who’s lived here has left unique marks, mirroring the period during which they lived in the palace. Gustav III's state bed chamber and Oskar II's writing room are definite highlights – and don’t miss Queen Christina's ornate silver throne in The Hall of State.
Many of the paintings, including centuries-old portraits of kings and queens, hang in the gallery within the beautiful Bernadotte Apartments. Here you’ll also find Adolf Fredrik's dining room and the Victoria Salon, with its impressive 19th century chandelier.
Writing room of Oskar II Photo: Alexis Daflos
The Treasury – where true treasures await
Wandering around the palace, you’ll be met by exquisite splendour at every turn, but one particular collection of objects needs a little extra protection. The regalia – the symbolic and precious objects that the Archbishop presents to the King or Queen on coronation day – are kept safe in the dimly lit cellar vaults of the palace.
Two swords of state belonging to Gustav Vasa, who reigned in Sweden between 1523 and 1560, are the oldest preserved objects within this subterranean wonderland. As for the many exquisite crowns, the oldest on display used to grace the head of Erik XIV.
Museum Three Crowns – the medieval Tre Kronor Palace in focus
Museum Three Crowns is dedicated to the original Tre Kronor Palace in Stockholm, which was destroyed by fire in 1697. It sets out to tell the story of the Tre Kronor Palace's development, from its beginnings as an 11th century defence fort to the Renaissance palace of today. To access the museum you’ll get to pass through the five-metre thick medieval defence wall. Once inside, objects rescued from the fire as well as replica models await.
Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities – a haven of regal art and culture
Having opened its doors in 1794, Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities is one of Europe's oldest museums. King Gustav III was a passionate collector of art and antiquities. He returned from his “grand tour” of Italy in 1784 as the new owner of most of the sculptures that are exhibited in the museum today. Since the King’s death in 1792, the collection consisting of 200 sculptures has been showcased permanently in honour of the art-loving King Gustav III.
There are two stone galleries to explore within the exhibition hall. The sculptures and busts are displayed in the exact same spots they were placed in the 1790s. Each sculpture is a thing of beauty, but Endymion – created by the artist of the same name – is considered the standout piece.
Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities is open from May through to September.
Gustav III's Museum of Antiquities exhibits sculptures bought by king Gustav III in the 18th century. Photo: Alexis Daflos/Kungliga hovstaterna
The Royal Chapel – artful splendour by the masters of their time
The palace is a piece of art in itself – and so too is its resident place of worship, the Royal Chapel. Here you’ll get to admire interior décor features and artworks by Nikodemus Tessin the Younger – the architect behind the Royal Palace, including its chapel; and Carl Hårleman, who completed the chapel's interior in the mid-18th century following Tessin’s death. Works by the celebrated cabinet maker Georg Haupt are also housed within, including the pew doors from King Karl XI's palace chapel. A pair of rare treasures, these were saved from the Tre Kronor Palace fire of 1697.
The Royal Chapel is open in summer and also throughout the year for special events, such as classical concerts and a weekly Sunday mass.
The impressive interior of the Royal Chapel in Stockholm was completed in the 18th century. Photo: Alexis Daflos/Kungliga hovstaterna