The young queen of Sweden, Hedvig Eleonora – whose beauty had enticed the king to marry her – needed a jaw-dropping palace.
Drottningholm Palace, to be exact…
And – after you’ve explored Gamla Stan (Stockholm’s Old Town) – visiting this Swedish royal palace today is one of the best day trips from Stockholm!
Where is Drottningholm Palace located?
The palace is built on the island of Lovon in Lake Malaren, in a suburb of Stockholm called Drottningholm.
See this link to Google maps for the Drottningholm Palace location.
Drottningholm Palace history
Now let’s step back in time and learn a little about the history of Drottningholm Palace and how it came to be…
Hedvig Eleonora’s husband, the king, had recently died, and she would rule as regent of the country until their young son was old enough to become the next king.
Sweden was one of the most powerful states in Europe, and the palace she would commission had to dazzle visiting royalty and dignitaries with its grandeur.
And so, in 1662, Drottningholm Palace (Drottningholm slott in Swedish) was built in grand Baroque style.
As it turned out, Hedvig Eleonora ended up reigning for much of her life.
Even when her son assumed power, he still deferred to her and called her “the Queen.”
Later, when her grandson left to fight the Great Northern War between Russia and the Swedish empire, she assumed control of Sweden once again.
Hedwig Eleonora’s bedchamber
One highlight of the palace is Hedvig Eleonora’s peacock-blue bedchamber.
You’ll gaze in amazement at the lavish décor – the gilded furniture, silk wallpaper and porcelain vases.
Eleonora never actually slept in this state bedchamber though.
She used it for official purposes, to greet visitors.
No doubt she succeeded in impressing many prominent guests here during her long reign!
Louisa Ulrika’s artistic influence
After Eleonora’s passing, the palace remained the residence for the royal ladies.
Then in 1744, it was given as a wedding present to Princess Louisa Ulrika of Prussia when she married the Swedish crown prince.
A lover of the arts, Louisa thrust Drottningholm into its golden age, redecorating the interiors in the latest French Rococo style on display at the Palace of Versailles.
Louisa also added a splendid library.
Dripping with crystal chandeliers, the gilt-adorned library simply oozes luxury.
A friend of Voltaire, Louisa loved to read – she founded Sweden’s Academy of Letters (which promotes the study of humanities and social sciences).
What must it have been like to pick up one of her precious history or botany books, and read in that room?
Do you love palace intrigue? Then you’ll love reading our post on the mystery of the looted Amber Room at Russia’s Catherine Palace
The lovely kina slott
On her 33rd birthday, Louisa received a surprise gift from her husband – a “Chinese pleasure palace.”
In a letter to her mother, she wrote of her delight: “He led me to one side of the garden and suddenly to my surprise, I found myself gazing upon a real fairytale creation, for the King had built a Chinese palace, the loveliest imaginable.”
Chinoiserie was in fashion at the time.
This pretty pink Chinese Pavilion (Kina slott in Swedish) displays the exquisite Chinese porcelain statues, lacquered panels, china and vases that so fascinated Louisa and her friends.
Indeed, as you wander through the red, green and yellow rooms, you can easily imagine them reading or laughing, gossiping and having fun as they played cards here.
Confidence dining room
The “confidence” dining room, in a separate building beside the Chinese palace, is also intriguing.
Its dining table could be lowered underground, so servants could set the meal on it then raise it back up into the dining room.
This way, the royals could eat in private without servants overhearing their conversations.
The room is the sparest in the palace.
Nature reigns supreme here.
Louisa must have found pleasure enough in the leafy views through the glass windows encircling the one-room building and in the secrets shared here.
Where Swedish royalty still live
Drottningholm is Swedish for “Queen’s Island.”
It’s a tribute to the vision and creativity of Eleonora and Louisa – both beautiful, strong-willed, intelligent women – that the golden-hued yellow palace today is one of the finest and best-preserved palaces in Northern Europe, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Drottninholm is also still full of life.
The current Swedish king and queen make their home here.
Stockholm day trip to the “Queen’s Island”
A large part of the palace is open to the public, however.
And this Stockholm day trip – taking a century-old steamer across Lake Malaren to visit the “Queen’s Island” – is one of the best things to do in Stockholm!
Suggested reading: Learn the art of bathing naked (co-ed) in Baden-Baden’s Friedrichsbad!
Tips for visiting Drottningholm Palace
Boat to Drottningholm Palace
More Stockholm information
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Photo credits: 4 to 10, 15, 16 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 13, 14 Swedish Royal Court