- Scheffler Palace (Spökslottet) was built around the year 1700
- Spökparken is the only park listed as historic site in inner Stockholm
- The palace is surrounded by mysterious stories about ghosts and spirits
- Today, it stores the art collection of Stockholm University
Drottninggatan is one of Stockholm’s most well-known streets. However, there is a part of it which I do not think receives the attention it deserves. The two different worlds you can find on Drottninggatan are separated by Tegnérgatan. One of them is lively, full of people from all around the world seeking entertainment while the other is much calmer, perhaps better capturing the true nature of the city.
Anyway, it is the northern part of the street which I think deserves that more travellers discover it simply because it hides some extraordinary historic sites as well as a plenty of nice greenery where one can pause for a while and enjoy the surroundings. One of the oldest structures there is the mysterious Scheffler Palace (Schefflerska palatset) which might or might not be haunted.
As it is often the case, the property is named after its original owner. Hans Petter Scheffler purchased the parcels on which the house stands in 1697 and that is where we pick up the story. Scheffler was a wealthy merchant who came to Sweden from Silesia.
He had the palace built together with what originally was a baroque garden around the turn of the 18th century. The person responsible for the construction was architect Abraham Winantz-Svansköld, a half-brother of Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, whose work was somewhat limited by the owner’s old-fashioned taste.
Scheffler passed away soon after the construction was completed and, therefore, in 1707, his wife Catarina Scheffler and his niece Tobias Leij became the new owners of the property. They had sold the north-western part of the property which was only later attached back to the original land.
The main palace was not the only building in the location, though, as the pavilion standing near the eastern border of the property to this day also comes from the era of Hans Scheffler. Thanks to historical paintings, we know that the pavilion originally had two floors where the upper one was formed by a lantern with an octagonal base. Although it is unknown when the pavilion received its current form, the bottom floor has always had its modern-day shape.
When visiting Spökparken (‘The Ghost Park’), you will also find some more modern buildings there. The most notable one is the early-20th-century university building on the northern side of the park. It was built by Stockholm University after they had been donated the land in the 1880s. Unfortunately, one of the original structures, the orangery, had to give way to the new building.
All of this happened after the big reconstruction that took place in 1875. At that time, not only the palace was renovated but the garden lost its original feel and was rebuilt in the English style, meaning it was now seemingly less-organised and meant to resemble wild nature more.
Interestingly, there is another house that used to stand in the location that you will not find there anymore but can see elsewhere. For a long time, the so-called Petissan was the home of the equally-named popular café. It was dismantled in 1907 and rebuilt the same year, this time at the famous Open-air Museum (Skansen) on Djurgården. Since the early 1930s, Petissan forms a part of the museum’s ‘City Quarter’.
Alright, there are many interesting buildings and even a nice park in Spökparken, but what is the matter with the ghosts? Well, let’s see. The stories about inexplicable events occurring in the palace, colloquially known as Spökslottet (‘The Ghost Palace’), begin during the time when it was inhabited by Jakob von Balthazar Knigge in the late 1700s.
Probably the most famous story (and likely the hardest one to believe) is the one of Knigge disappearing for good in sparks and flames after a carriage pulled by black horses sent directly from hell picked him up in front of his house. The reputation of the palace has been supported by many different stories over the centuries.
Some of them talk about hidden treasures and skeletons left behind by the original owner, which might have originated when one of the graves located in the garden opened after a landslide in the first half of the 1800s. Another owner of the house said that a small white cross used to appear at one of the walls every evening and that when he one day heard strange sounds resembling a wind blowing, his light was blown out despite all windows and doors being closed.
It is also said that a priest from Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan) came to exorcise the ghosts from the house. However, during the ritual, he was blown out of a window and broke his leg. The then-residents moved out the next day.
These stories go on and on and usually revolve around strange sounds, symbols appearing in different parts of the house, and doors and windows seemingly opening by themselves. However, there is one that we all might relate to a bit more.
Scheffler Palace was donated to Stockholm University in 1924 and has been used by its employees. One evening around the turn of the millennium, an employee stayed at work late finishing up some work on her computer in one of the rooms in the basement when she, according to her words, suddenly felt like she was not welcome in the house anymore. A while later, she went briefly to another room to grab a binder and when she came back, she found a hateful message written in the document she had been editing on her computer. As far as we know, she has never told anyone what the message said and never went to that room alone again…
As you can see, there is a plenty of mystery surrounding the ‘Ghost Palace’ but if you are not too scared, the park has been open to the public since the reconstruction in 1925. After another major one, which took place in 1995, Spökparken is lighter, more pleasant, and more comfortable than ever, and if you are looking for a calm place in the neighbourhood, this park is always a good choice.
Not only that but Spökparken is the only park in the inner city in Stockholm listed as a historic heritage. Scheffler Palace today is the place where you would find the art collection of Stockholm University while the building in the northern part of the park is used by Folkuniversitetet.
I hope that this story will inspire you to explore the less-known parts of Drottninggatan and especially Spökparken and all the beautiful historical buildings you can find there. You can expect more stories about places in the neighbourhood soon so make sure you stay tuned.
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Stugart, Martin, 1995. Spökparken blir som ny. [dn.se].
Enblom, Markus, 2012. [spokhistorier.blogspot.com].
Wester, Hasse, 2015. Spökparken-Drottninggatan. Schefflerska palatset. [gardener.blogg.se].
Inedahl, Petter. Spökslottet mitt i staden. [skarn.se].