As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, we weren’t able to visit the palace interior and so I’m just going to include a few pictures and a brief outline of the palace history.
The first palace to be built here was at the end of the 16th century when King Johan III presented it to his Queen Consort, Katarina Jagellonika. From then on it was always called ’Queen’s Island’, or in Swedish - Drottningholm.
In 1661 Hedwig Eleonora, the Queen Dowager (widow of King Charles X Gustav) moved into the palace only to see it burn down later in the year. Undeterred, she commissioned Nikodemus Tessin the Elder to build a new palace and work started the following year in 1662.
He designed the interior rooms in the Baroque style but unfortunately didn’t live long enough to see it finished. His son, Nikodemus Tessin the Younger completed the job and left us with the building that we basically see today.
In 1744 the palace was given to Queen Lovisa Ulrika of Prussia as a wedding present when she married the heir apparent Adolf Frederick of Sweden.
If you’ve read my reviews of the Chinese Pavilion and the Court Theatre, you’ll already know something about her, but she was also responsible for adding her own touches to the interior of the palace as well.
In 1777 she sold it to the state, but her son, Gustav III was able to continue living a life of Riley here until his assassination in 1792.
By the first half of the 19th century the building had deteriorated and was eventually left abandoned to the elements.
Although restoration began in the second half of the 19th century the modern improvements didn‘t go down well. Out went the old, and in came the new, only to be ripped out again by Gustav V who took over in 1907. Over the next 4 years he returned the palace to its former glory - and it’s been a royal residence ever since.
In 1981 the present King, Carl XVI Gustaf, and his wife, Queen Silvia, moved out of the Royal Palace in Stockholm and set up home here in the south wing at Drottningholm.
Although they still live here, the rest of the palace is open to the public - daily throughout the summer, and on weekends in the winter.
Admission costs SEK 120 (£12/€12) for adults, but it’s best to check out the website for all the opening times and concessionary fares.
If you need wheelchair access the website recommends that you phone them, which suggests to me that access is limited.
The good news though is that photography without flash is allowed, providing it’s not for commercial purposes.
Arriving by boat at Drottningholm is a most impressive introduction to this World Heritage Site. The Palace sits on the water’s edge where benches entice people to sit next to the statues that look out across Lake Malaren.
The Palace is the obvious focal point but there’s more here than just the Palace, which is just as well because our visit coincided with a Royal christening and was closed to the general public.
To be honest I’ve seen plenty of Palaces, and when the weather’s good I much prefer to be outdoors anyway.
The Palace Park and Gardens are freely open to everyone, and even on a beautiful late Summer’s weekend, there’s plenty of space for people to enjoy what they’ve come here for, whether it be going for a walk, admiring the gardens, or just feeding the ducks.
There are three distinct areas to the park. The oldest and most elaborate are the Baroque Gardens conceived by Queen Hedvig Eleonora in the late 17th century.
When this formality fell out of favour by the mid 18th century Queen Lovisa Ulrika created a more natural park to complement the Chinese Pavilion, although it seems that it doesn’t appear to be much like the original creation today.
The third and final phase of the park’s layout is attributed to King Gustav III who came to Drottningham in 1777. He had a penchant for the English natural garden type of landscape and so set about creating his little bit of England here, and whether it’s because I’m English or not I don’t know, but I especially liked this part of the park.
Like most palatial parks, there are a number of hidden secret corners that demand further exploration, and sometimes it’s just nice to wander around and see what you come across instead of following a specific trail.
I knew that the Palace was closed before I came here, but what we lost on the swings we gained on the roundabouts, because we were more than happy to soak up the late summer Swedish sun in this delightful park - and unlike the Palace it was all free. Wonderful!
My initial disappointment at not being able to visit the Palace due to a royal christening quickly evaporated when I found out that UNESCO made the Drottningholm Estate a World Heritage Site in 1991 mainly because of the Court Theatre and Chinese Pavilion.
I wasn’t quite sure why these two buildings were more special than the palace, but at least I was going to have the time to visit them now.
The Chinese Pavilion was originally built for Queen Lovisa Ulrika in 1753 as a birthday present from her husband King Adolf Fredrik. As wonderful a present it obviously was, it was a rustic affair made of timber and logs, and it didn’t take long for the Swedish climate to take its toll.
Within ten years it was decided to replace the first pavilion with another more substantial one. It was completed in 1769 and is the one that still stands here today.
Inside the pavilion the Chinese theme is countered by a European influence in the rococo style, but there’s also a collection of Chinese (and Japanese) items still occupying their original places from the time they were introduced in the 18th century, although there are a few items missing after a burglary in 2010.
I’m not sure what I was really expecting before I came here, and sometimes reading about a place beforehand can have a negative impact on the actual visit. For instance, on my way to the Pavilion I read that the rooms are full of luxury items brought from China such as lacquered panels, silk and porcelain - and it’s true they are all here, but somehow I wasn’t as overwhelmed as I though I might have been.
The thing to bear in mind is that the Chinese Pavilion started life as just a log cabin in the park, and not a part of the palace as such, but to be fair even though the rooms didn’t blow me away, there were some interesting things to take a closer look at, such as the imported hand painted wallpaper from China.
Admission prices in 2016 are SEK 100 (approx £10 or €10) and half price for students and youngsters up to the age of 17. For children under 6 it’s free.
If chinoiserie isn’t your thing then you probably won’t feel cheated if you don’t go inside, but you should definitely make it a mission to come and walk around the outside of the pavilion and its adjacent buildings. For me it was the best bit - and free.
The Royal Palace on Gamla Stan is where Carl XVI Gustaf conducts his official business as King of Sweden, but his family home has been at Drottningholm on the island of Lovon since 1981.
The Palace is normally open to the public and the nicest way to get there has to be by boat from Stadshusbron which is near the City Hall.
Drottningholm is in Lake Malaren and takes about 45 minutes or so from the departure point. The journey takes you past the City Hall and Norr Malarstrand, under the Vasterbron, and towards the islands of Lake Malaren.
Stromma operate frequent trips from Stadshusbron on board the steamship S/S Drottningholm and M/S Carl Philip. They’re both lovely old heritage boats with plenty of seating available inside with restaurant facilities, but it has to be said that on-deck seating is limited, so it pays to be in the queue early if you want to sit outside and enjoy the views.
At Drottningholm, charges are made to visit the Palace, the Chinese Pavilion and the Court Theatre. Stromma offer various options which could save you money if you intend visiting these attractions, but it’s worth mentioning the fact that a large part of your time here can be spent wandering around the park which is free.
If you’re thinking of buying these tickets then make sure you have enough time to do it all, and that the boat times coincide with your expectations.
The 2016 timetable ran from April 1st to October 23rd with sailing times varying according to the season.
Prices varied from SEK 205 for the return boat journey to SEK 445 for the boat trip and entrance fees to the Palace, Chinese Pavilion and the Court Theatre.
For all the latest information it’s always best to consult the Stromma website.
There are other ways to get to Drottningholm, but travelling by boat not only gets you there, it also gives you an idea of how Stockholm has been influenced by the water that surrounds it - and on a lovely summer’s day what could be better?
Like the Chinese Pavilion, the Court Theatre is a bit of an oddity at Drottningholm, and one of the reasons that it was given World Heritage status in 1991.
Throughout the summer months performances are held at this 18th century opera house, but if your interest just lies in the building itself then guided tours are also available.
Opera houses, more often than not, are architecturally ornate, but that can’t really be said about this one, so is it worth spending SEK 100 (£10/€10) to take a look around? I’ll leave you to answer that question after I’ve explained a bit more about what to expect.
Queen Lovisa Ulrika ordered the present theatre to be built after the first one was destroyed by fire. It opened in 1766, but it was her son King Gustav III, a lover of the arts, who helped to make it flourish.
On the evening of the 16th March 1792 he was at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm to attend a masked ball, but it was to be his last visit to any opera house because at midnight he was assassinated.
His death was also the death knell for the Drottningholm Court Theatre, and the building ended up just being used for storage space.
In 1921 Agne Beijer, a literary historian, discovered the slumbering theatre in a virtual time warp and subsequently set about bringing it back to life.
The theatre today still uses the original wooden mechanical stage machinery in much the same way as it did back in the 18th century. The disappointing thing though is that you don’t get to see it on the guided tour, or at least I didn’t. There are obviously very good reasons why it’s not practical, but if you know that it’s here, and there’s no information to tell you that you won’t be seeing it, then you’ll end up being as disappointed as I was.
The other thing that caught me out was the theatre itself. As I’ve already alluded to, the inside is not flamboyant like many other opera houses. There are no marble columns, gold leaf or plush boxes. Instead, it’s all stucco plaster, papier maché and trompe l’oeil.
The tour, which takes half an hour, includes a couple of other rooms - the Lobby, and the Dressing Room, which included a dragon’s head, but I can’t tell you what it was doing here because I was too busy looking at the 18th century wallpaper that was nailed to the walls while the guide was talking.
Now that I’ve explained the background you can make up your own minds as to whether you think it’s worth paying to come in here or not. From a personal point of view I’m glad I did, but if I’m being perfectly honest I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was expecting to.
This beautiful castle that the name "Drottningholm" carries the first of fourteen monuments on the World Heritage list of UNESCO in Sweden
The castle still serves as permanent residence of the royal family, inside the beautiful rooms from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries are free to admire
The summer palace of the Swedish royal family located on the island Lovo
Also called the Versailles of Sweden
The palace was before affected by the French Versailles, like so many palaces at that time
The architectural style of the lock is baroque, the gardens are beautiful and if you visit in the summertime the grass are even more greener and the flowers are in bloom
Visit during summer is the best time, the garden is beautiful in green
A boat trip brings visitors in about 50 minutes from Stockholm's city center at Stadshuset to the royal domain of Drottningholm.
Free admission with the Stockholm Card
Inside the most impressive is the Great Staircase which dominates the center of the palace
Large statues of the nine muses are placed on the balustrade of the staircase which was designed by Tessin the Elder
While there is probably copious amounts of information and reviews about the 16th century palace that has served as the home of the royal family since 1981. I will try not to add too much clutter to these.
The Palace is fairly impressive (Open May-August 10am~16:30pm daily / September 1200n~15:30pm daily / October - April Saturdays and Sundays 12n~15:30pm) and the gardens have been likened to Versailles. Since the Royal Family does reside here, there is a full time guard which you may be fortunate enough to see them changing over.
To get there, you can take the ferry from Stockholm, or you can take a number of guided tours. However these are all rather pricey.
The cheapest way to get there would be as follow:
Take the metro to Bromoplan. From there, take bus #312 (direction Adolsö), or bus #176 (direction Stenhamra) or bus #177 (direction Ekerö).
Versailles and Schönbrunn are perhaps bigger sights but a Heritage site is a Heritage site and this was the first Swedish one in 1991 together with its theatre in the following tip. It is a very nice palace and has a scenic lakeside setting. You cannot visit all of the inside as the royal family live here (to the right in the picture) since the 1980s when they left Stockholm Royal Palace for the countryside, but the other wing is open for you to walk through or go on guided tours every hour on the hour (less frequent in winter). Just bear in mind that the last tour is shorter as than the rest as they close (you can find opening hours in the link below). You can also stroll around the gardens which is what all these photos are from as you are not allowed to take pictures inside the castle. It was started on in the 17th century by the widowed Queen Hedvig Eleonora who realised the cultural value of a new castle for Sweden and had it built in what was already royal grounds outside Stockholm. It has then been added to for another century, much inspired by Versailles and work was led by the famous Tessins - father and son. My own favourites are the library which is fantastic, as well as one of the old Queen's parade bedroom where she received the really prominent guests. Fantastic interiors, although the entrance hall in mock marble isn't bad either. With my parents only a few bus stops away from Drottningholm, it's perhaps surprising that I'm not here more often but County Stockholm just has so many things to see. Have a look at my Ekerö page for many more impressions.
The Stochholm Palce (Stockholms Slott) is the official residence of the Swedish monarch. The offices of the royal court of Sweden, as well as offices of members of the Royal family are all located here. (The private residence of the Royal family is at Drottningholmslott though)
There are four different sections at the palace: the Gustav III Antiques museum, the Royal Apartments, the treasury, and the Tre Kronor museum. Adults get in for 70 kronor, and students for 35 kronor.
This is the residence of the Swedish royal family and a very beautiful estate. I was there in late October when it was cold, grey and rainy, but it was still magical. Inspires all sorts of wannabe-princess fantasies. Tours of the palace apartments are available.
The whole Drottningholm complex is on the UNESCO list. The palace situated on the island Lövon was built in between 1615 and 1681. The Royal family still uses a part of the building.
The most sighful things in and around the palace are of course the palace itself, Slottsteatern, Teatermuseum and Kina Slott (Chinese Pavillion).