Historical architecture is one of the best reasons for visiting major cities around the globe. In the previous episode of our weekly series Places of Interest, I showed you Stockholm’s most beautiful buildings built during the 17th century that are located outside of the historical city centre. This time, we look at six of those that sit right at the edge of the Old Town (Gamla stan).
Before we jump into discovering the buildings themselves, let’s pause for a moment and try to understand some of the key aspects that formed the city of Stockholm in the 1600s. While the city was still very small by modern standards (there were fruit farms in the Old Town), the political success of the country helped many individuals accumulate significant wealth and the country’s capital as a whole was becoming ever more prominent.
To show off the power and influence of the country, not only did individuals build stunning residences, even the Royals supported the construction of such properties to enhance the city’s image. For example, Queen Christina donated a large number of parcels surrounding the heart of the city to influential people with the goal of glorifying these areas. That is, in fact, how several of the estates below were created. And now, let’s dive right into it.
The beautifully decorated Admiralty House standing on the Skeppsholmen island was originally built in the mid-1600s and hence rightly belongs on this list. However, I must say that its modern-day façade with the original corner towers comes from the reconstruction that took place around 200 years after the building had been completed. Today, the National Museum has its offices there.
2. Bååt Palace (Bååtska palatset)
Bååt Palace built between 1662 and 1669 is one of the notable works of architect Nicodemus Tessin the Older who designed the building for the official Seved Bosson Bååth. Bååth received the land on which the palace stands as a donation from Queen Christina under the condition that he would build something spectacular and representative in the location. For a long time, the palace has been owned by the Swedish Order of Freemasons.
3. Douglas Palace (Douglaska palatset)
It was Nicodemus Tessin the Older who stood behind the design of the Douglas Palace, too. Although the building had been erected in the 1670s, the modern-day façade was created in the late 19th century. One of the interesting elements of Tessin’s design is the distribution of the five floors where the first over-ground floor as well as the top one are formed by so-called mezzanines.
If there is a palace with a truly exciting story to tell, it is the Fersen Palace. It began its life as an admiralty house preceding the aforementioned one standing on Skeppsholmen. For centuries, it has served as a residence of several of the most influential families in Sweden and recently, it was given a new life as the headquarters of one of the large Swedish banks.
Although this beautiful church prominently located on a hill overlooking Kungsträdgården has gone through more reconstructions than most other places, it now looks fairly similar to its original design from the first half of the 1600s. There are numerous historical artefacts of great value displayed in the church’s interior and from the outside you can admire the amazing, original stone portals as well as the unique bright-red façade.
6. Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Konstakademien)
Proving that Nicodemus Tessin the Older led a busy life designing monumental structures for elite members of the Swedish society, we visit the House of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts standing by Rosenbadsparken. The house was originally built for Over-Governor Axel Carlsson Sparre in 1671 but it has served as the home of the Royal Academy for over two hundred years since 1775.
These are my six favourite places built in Stockholm in the 17th century that you should definitely see and that are located in areas surrounding the city’s Old Town. If you like the architecture from this period, have a look at the previous issue of Places of Interest where you will find more places from the era to visit. Keep an eye on our site, too, as in the next post from the series, I am going to show you perhaps the most interesting of all 17th-century structures – those located in the historical heart of the Swedish capital.
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