GAMLA STAN — this place should be on top of any visitor’s list when in the Swedish capital. Within the islets that comprise this old town is a concentration of the Stockholm’s most impressive centuries-old structures.
|The castle of castles in Gamla Stan.|
It is not surprising that much of the historic structures are found here. The Stadsholmen of Gamlastan was where the legendary floating log first hit land, which led to the birth of the new capital city of Sweden.
|So that you know your way around the palace grounds.|
The neighboring islet known as the Riddarholmen, The Knight’s Islet, may be the address to a number of privately-owned 17th century palaces, but it is at the colloquial Old Town in the Stadsholmen where the most important palace of Sweden sits The Royal Palace.
|The royalty’s address.|
|The Royal Guards has guarded the palace & the Royal Family since 1523.|
It was the first order on second day of touring the city. Unfortunately, I was met with the most dreaded of rules in any must-visit attraction-no photography. Even if you attach the word “please” to it, it is probably one of the most displeasing guideline to any destination writer. It will have to be exterior shots plus image hunting on the web for this story or sneak a shot or two when nobody’s looking (forgive me).
|Sneaky tourist at the no photo zone on the way up to the Royal Apartments.|
|With fellow sneaky tourist, Des. A.|
Designed by the Swedish Baroque architect, Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, the Royal Palace (Kungligaslotted in Swedish) is the official residence and the major royal palace of the Swedish monarch. “Major” because it is the most important of the 11 crown palaces owned by the Swedish State.
|Rococo interior for this castle.|
It is located at the northern part of the Gamlastan by Norrstrom, the waterway that connects the third largest lake in Sweden, Lake Mlaren, to the Baltic Sea. The palace has been on the same location since the mid 13th century when the Tre Kronor Castle was built.
The Royal Palace was built after the medieval Tre Kronor Castle was razed by fire in 1697. A great war halted its construction, but was resumed in 1727, six years after the conflict ended.
Carl Harleman, who was also responsible for the majority of the castle’s Rococo interior, took over the project after Tessin the Younger passed way a year after the construction restarted.
|Sneaky tourist shot3; the second level hall|
The first residents were King Adolf Frederick, who occupied the rooms on the second floor of the eastern row known today as the Prins Bertil’s Apartment after its latest noted tenant, and Queen Louisa Ulrika. Although the palace was ready for use in 1754, the time when the royalty moved in, the interior works were not finished until the 1770s.
|The entrance of the Hall of State.|
There are 1,430 rooms in the palace, 660 of which have windows. Included in the count are the apartments for the Royal families, the State Apartments used for the Royal Couple’s receptions and representations, the Guest Apartments used for the visiting heads of states on official visit, the Bernadotte Apartments named after Sweden’s current royal house and used for audiences, awarding medals and for meetings with the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs; the Hall of State holds the Silver Throne of Queen Christina; the 18th century Royal Chapel where services are still held and used by the Royal Family for ceremonies.
|18th century Royal Chapel where services are still held and used by the Royal Family for ceremonies.|
In the cellars of the palace are the Treasury, the 1970-inaugurated museum where the Regalia of Sweden are displayed, the 1628 Livrustkammaren or The Royal Armoury is the oldest museum in Sweden exhibiting artifacts of the Swedish military history and the Royal royalty.
The Gustav III’s museum of antiquities, opened in 1794, is the second oldest museum in Sweden exhibiting over 200 of the antique sculptures acquired by King Gustav III during his journey to Italy in 1783-1784; and the Tre Kronor Museum, the newest of the museums in the palace opened in 1999, exhibits the artifacts of the old castle.
|A scale model of the medieival Tre Kronor Castle.|
|The women’s frocks in the olden days.|
If I was deprived of the photographs of the castle interiors, the shots of the ceremonial changing of the guards (and with a guard, most importantly) at the Outer Courtyard of the palace were enough to pacify me. The Royal Guards has guarded the palace and the Royal Family since 1523.
|The ceremonial changing of the guards is a tourist attraction in itself.|
Watching the guards gave me the sudden craving for Swedish meatballs. It was lunchtime, silly.
|Lunch time! I want some meatballs again…… But first a photo with the Royal Guard.|
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 18, 2015.