Stockholm Stories and Tips

Drottningholm: Island of the Queen

Drottningholm Slott Photo, Stockholm, Sweden

To get there: Take the ferry from Stadshuskajen (the City Hall Quay) to Drottningholm. For times and fares, call Strömma Kanalbolaget at 08-587 140 00. Regular service is during summertime only.

Opening hours of Drottningholm Palace:

May to August: daily 10am to 4:30pm
September: daily noon to 3:30pm
October to April: Saturday to Sunday noon to 3:30pm

Opening hours of the Chinese Pavilion:
May to August: daily 11am to 4:30pm
September: daily noon to 3:30pm

Drottningholm is not only the residence of the Swedish royal family, but also a summer paradise for locals and tourists alike. This royal domain is the first Swedish site on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the finest example of an 18th-century northern European royal residence inspired by the Palace of Versailles. Its regal castle, French-style baroque garden, well-preserved 18th-century theatre, and Chinese pavilion are great treats for the eyes.

The Drottningholm Palace is open to the public and has regular guided tours in English and Swedish. Admission is 60 SEK (half-price for children). The original castle was built by the Queen Hedvig Eleonora in a heavy, sumptuous baroque style, but later increasingly refined to French-inspired Rococo style, especially during the time of Queen Lovisa Ulrika.

The beautiful French Baroque garden, designed by the famous Swedish architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, reminds me of the Garden of Versailles. I was quite impressed with the carefully trimmed trees and fountains and bronze sculptures by the Dutch artist Adrian de Vries—one of the most eminent sculptors of the Northern European Renaissance. A walk through this huge park can be quite exhausting, especially in the heat, but luckily there are plenty of benches for you to rest.

Drottningholm Theatre is one of the best preserved baroque theatres in Europe. It was built from 1764 to 1766 but did not reach its greatness until Gustav III took over the castle in 1777. Today, summer classical music concerts are still being played in this theater.

The Chinese Pavilion (Kina Slott) is my favorite of all the buildings on the island. A beautiful tree-lined boulevard leads you to the front door of this exotic-looking wooden pavilion. Built in 1769, the pavilion was a birthday present from the King Adolf Fredrik to his Queen Lovisa Ulrika. It was built entirely in Stockholm and transported to Drottningholm in one piece, and surely it won the heart of the queen and pleased her tremendously. The pavilion is decorated with Chinese and oriental elements that belong to high fashion in 18th-century Sweden. The interior is in a splendid Swedish rococo style and filled with porcelain, paintings, and other objects imported from China.

Admission to the Chinese Pavilion costs 50 SEK (half-price for children). If you were to make a choice between entering the Drottningholm Castle or the Chinese Pavilion, I would recommend the Chinese Pavilion. It truly is unlike anything you have ever seen. If you visit the pavilion between June 28 and August 15, there is a free bus that brings you from the ferry pier through the park to the China Palace. It is a good way to save energy, as the baroque park is huge. On your way back from the Chinese Pavilion, you might want to take a walk through the park if you still have enough energy.

There are many other areas to explore on the island, and a full day’s visit should be planned here. Restaurants and cafés in beautiful settings are ready to serve the hungry tourists, while a picnic in the park would be just as charming.

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