Most people would have heard of Buckingham Palace, the London residence for Queen Elizabeth II. Britain isn’t the only European country to be privileged with a royal family. Sweden too, has its royal family, and their preferred place of residence is Drottningholm Palace near the capital Stockholm.
When you see the palace from its entrance it looks vaguely familiar, and that is because it was built in the French style of the time, so is something of an amalgam of various prominent French buildings, which were the finest royal houses in Europe during the 17th century when Drottningholm was first built.
The palace occupies Lovon Island, and its name refers to its location, as Drottningholm is Swedish for `Queen’s Island’. The palace was built at the behest of King John III of Sweden as a home for his wife Queen Catherine.
The building was purchased by Dowager Queen Hedwig Eleonora, but it burnt down shortly after she bought it, so the whole thing had to be re-built, but this time to her specifications. The palace must have been re-built properly because today it is still well preserved.
The palace features magnificent salons from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a beautiful park, a unique palace theatre and a Chinese Pavilion. The gardens are magnificent being designed in Baroque style of gardens at Versaille.
Over the years the various owners have made changes and additions of the original buildings. Some of these, such as the Chinese Salon that was built in the 1700s, reflect the style of the times. Other changes merely reflect the taste of the owners.
The gardens are very formal, being designed to be both ordered and symmetrical. At the centre is the impressive Hercules fountain which features bronze figures that were made from metal which was liberated from enemy armies during times of war.
Even through the palace is still a royal residence, the general public is allowed in to enjoy the parks and gardens, but the private residence is still off limits. Getting to the palace by public transport is quite easy, especially in summer when they are longer opening times. One of the most pleasant ways to reach the palace is by boat from City Hall Quay in Stockholm.
There is an entrance fee, but that cost does include a guided tour of the palace, which lasts about 45 minutes, after which you are free to wander around the grounds at your own pace.