A short side trip barely 20 minutes outside of Stockholm on an island in Lake Mälar sits one of the most beautiful royal palaces in existence. Modeled after Versailles, but better, way better, Drottingholm Palace along with its Palace Theatre, the Chinese Pavilion, Canton Village, and gardens is an absolute jewel amidst the lush Swedish countryside. Whether your interests lie in gardens, architecture, interiors or royal history Drottinghom Palace will amaze you.
Don’t Enter Through The Back Door!
Many tours such as those arriving by boat drop bring you to the side of the palace which abuts the lake. While this is picturesque, it is nothing compared to entering through the garden, or the front of the palace. The restored 17th century Baroque garden creates the proper drama required for viewing and entering Drottingholm for the first time.
Queen Hedvig Elenora
The palace was built by Queen Hedwig (Hedvig) Elenora in the year after she was succeeded on the throne by her son Charles XI, when she was Queen Regent.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the current King and Queen of Sweden. Their residence is in the southern wing of the palace, however the rest of the palace and grounds are open to the public year round.This unusual 3D treatment of the cloud was very interesting. Fancy marquetry is usually reserved for fine furnishings, at Drottingholm this highly detailed parquet floor resides in Hedvig Elenora’s State Bedchamber.The light filled gilded library is a later addition under Lovisa Ulrika, Queen of Sweden between 1751 and 1771. The small sculptures are from Pompeii. Subsequent royal inhabitants put their decorative stamp on the palace throughout the years. Much less glitz but equally impressive, these private quarters in icy blue and white are characteristics we often associate with Swedish interiors.
At one point they made an unsuccessful attempt to raise silkworms and make their own silk at Drottingholm. This beautiful marquetry cabinet houses silk color samples.
A Useful Garden Folly
In architectural terms, a garden folly is an extravagant building, purely for decorative pleasure. Unveiled as a surprise from King Adolf Fredrik to Queen Lovisa Ulrika for her birthday on 24 July 1753. The buildings served as an exotic royal retreat in a wooded section of the garden.
The Chinese Pavilion, originally built between 1753–1769, is a visually extravagant yet useful group of Chinese-inspired buildings. Remember this was the time when all things Asian in design was what we would now consider trending. Though many had never traveled or seen true Chinese architecture at the time, this is a fantastical version loaded with color and embellishment. Hard to believe it but the Guards Tent is actually a wooden structure. If this doesn’t scream folly, I don’t know what does.
A building titled The Confidence has got to be one of the most brilliant structures we’d never heard of. A standalone one room, one story structure sits atop a basement to which the entire dining table from above is lowered to and raised from. This allows the royal family and their guests to dine without servants milling about. The table would be set and loaded with food then raised into the dining room where the guests could pull up their chairs and converse over dinner in complete privacy.
The pristine elegance of the interiors and the grounds make Drottingholm an enchanting place to sample a significant example of early royal life and architecture from the 17th and 18th century. One does not need an entire day to enjoy Drottingholm but you could fill a day here. If visiting make time for this side trip, you will not be disappointed.