- Parts of modern-day Haga Park were first purchased by Crown Prince Gustav in 1771
- Haga Park is a typical example of a park built in English style
- The Haga Palace was the official residence of several royal couples
As I showed you in an earlier post, Stockholm is full of nice parks where you can enjoy your summer days surrounded by an appealing combination of nature and eye-pleasing architecture. Many of these parks also have an interesting story to tell, some even have royal roots. All of that is true about Haga Park (Hagaparken), which I tell you everything about in this post.
People had discovered the strategic position of Haga at the shores of the Lake Brunnsviken long before the area became a public park. It is said that in the late 18th century, there was roughly one tavern per 100 residents in Stockholm and for centuries, Haga belonged to the most popular places for taverns near the city.
The modern history of Haga, and Haga Park itself, begins with then Crown Prince Gustav in the 1770s. The 25-year-old soon-to-be king Gustav III purchased the property known as Prästhagen in 1771. This land is located in the southern part of the modern-day park and is now known as the ‘Old Haga’ (Gamla Haga). It was also this acquisition that started the royal era at Haga.
Gustav III himself enjoyed spending time at this place and had it transformed into a residence after having been inspired by Nature Romanticism on his travels around continental Europe where he got the chance to socialise with the likes of Marie Antoinette and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
The style of the new park was also selected in accordance with the artistic movement. Haga Park was to be developed into an English-style park. That was the task of Fredrik Magnus Piper who recently returned from his study trip across England, France, and Italy. Thanks, in part to his work on Haga Park, Piper is today considered one of Sweden’s most notable landscape architects.
English style vs. French style
Parks in English style were an answer to the earlier French style dominating garden architecture. Whereas parks and gardens created in the French style, popular in the 17th and 18th century, were meant to be the ultimate works of man, perfectly symmetrical thanks to the incorporation of geometric shapes, the English style was in many ways the opposite. Also called landscape gardens, the English-style gardens put focus on the integration of nature into the scenery. They are much simpler compared to French-style gardens, usually feature extensive lawns and landscape elements such as hills, canals and lakes. Flowers, on the other hand, are scarce.
Piper worked with the scenery at Haga and created new canals, islets, meadows, and hills to enhance the existing landscape. The so-called lines of sight were created to direct people’s attention toward the most important buildings in the park. These were created by multiple architects including Piper himself who designed the Turkish Pavilion.
As there were many architects designing the buildings for the new royal park, the competition among them was likely huge. However, that resulted in the creation of some extraordinary and unique constructions.
Among the first completed buildings were the ‘Copper tents’ (Koppartälten), which originally served as stable and lodgement for the king’s guards, and remain to be one of the most characteristic buildings at Haga.
The ‘Echo Temple’ (Ekotemplet) is another example of a particularly interesting construction in the park. The summer dining room completed in 1790 is not matched by any other in the Nordics.
Perhaps the most notable of all, though, is the royal residence Haga Palace (Haga slott) also known as the Queen’s Pavilion (Drottningens paviljong). It was built between 1802 and 1804 in then popular Empire style, which explains the appearance similar to the one of Rosendal Palace (Rosendals slott) built a few decades later.
The palace was the residence of several royal pairs over the centuries including Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf and his wife Princess Sibylla, the parents of the current King of Sweden Gustav XVI Adolf. The current king therefore grew up in Haga Palace, which does not serve as a royal residence anymore, though. Today, it is most often used to accommodate official foreign guests.
The importance of the nature landscape for the appearance of the park was proved in 1863 when the level of the water in Lake Brunnsviken dropped by 1.25 metres. This changed the scenery of the park drastically. Canals and islets created by Piper disappeared and they took a lot of the charm of the views from the Echo Temple with them.
In the following decades, the character of Haga Park kept changing rapidly especially due to the expansion of Stockholm whose population grew steadily. In the 19th and 20th century, several important roads, tramways, and railroads were built in the park’s neighbourhood. The landscape was also affected by heavy construction when more and more residents and businesses started moving to the area.
Eventually, the city decided to tackle these issues and came up with a unique solution. In 1995, the world’s first national city park, The Royal National City Park (Kungliga nationalstadsparken), was born to protect the cultural heritage and nature landscape in the area. The national park stretches all the way from Djurgården to Haga Park and since there are several restrictions, possibilities for construction in this zone are very limited.
Finally, in the southern part of Haga, on the only remaining island in the area after 1863, Karlsborg, there is the Royal Cemetery (Kungliga begravningsplatsen). This place has been the official burial place of the Swedish Royal Family since 1950, ending the long tradition of burials at Riddarholm Church.
Hopefully, you agree that Haga Park is a place with a great variety of sites to offer and a place that you should absolutely visit whenever you get the chance. Remember, too, that you can also enjoy the park simply by lying down on the grass and perhaps, having a little picnic if that is your thing. I, too, am finishing up this post on the lawns of Haga Park.
If you liked this story, I have good news for you. More stories about interesting places in Stockholm are coming very soon, so do come back to check them out. In the meantime, consider sharing this one with everyone you think might like it and join our newsletter to keep yourself updated on the latest news from Trevl.
Perhans, Karl-Erik, Jalvén, Karin, Svae, Karin, 1998. Natur och Kultur i Hagaparken.