The weather forecast predicted 31 degrees Celsius making Stockholm even hotter than Spain! Leaving jumpers and cardigans behind, we headed for the metro and took the blue line from Solna Centrum to its terminus at Kungsträdgården and then just had a short distance to walk to the waterfront before crossing the bridge to the Swedish Royal Palace.
Combination tickets to tour the palace cost SEK 180 (£15.50) and include admittance to the following: The Royal Apartments, Tre Kronor Museum, The Treasury, Gustav III Museum of Antiquities, The Armoury and the Royal Burial Church of Riddarholmen.
We commenced our tour at the Royal Apartments where 40 of the rooms are open to the public. This group of rooms are still used today for hosting royal events and receptions. Our tour began in the Hall of State with its ornate Throne Room and continued through to the State Apartments. We had picked up free audio guides and these were useful for us to gain more in-depth information on items of particular interest. It was interesting to also be able to view the Guest Apartments which are used by visiting members of state.
We then moved on to the Tre Kronor Museum which documents the history of the palace. This museum is located in the cellars where the former kitchens used to be. The original Tre Kronor Palace was destroyed by fire in 1697 and the museum traces its origins as a fort through to an opulent renaissance palace. Here we also saw a surviving defence wall dating back to the 1200’s.
From there, we continued to The Treasury which holds the Crown Jewels and regalia of the royal family in a vaulted cellar. These priceless crowns were exquisite with their glittering diamonds and emeralds. Included in the display is King Gustav Vasa’s sword of state, King Erik XIV’s crown and the silver baptismal font from 1696. Photography is not permitted in The Treasury but is allowed in all other areas of the palace.
It was then time for our morning coffees which were served in the courtyard. Our short break had been timed to perfection enabling us to watch the Changing of the Guards ceremony at 12.00 noon which shouldn’t be missed. Viewing the Guard change is possible without a palace ticket as the outer courtyard where it takes place is a public area.
Feeling refreshed, we continued our tour with a visit to the Gustav III Museum of Antiquities which was located in two long galleries overlooking the Palace gardens. These long halls were lined with busts and sculptures. This is the second oldest museum in Sweden dating back to 1794 containing over 200 antique sculptures which were brought back from Gustav’s travels to Italy in 1783 and 1784.
Located outside the palace wall is The Armoury which is actually free to visit and excluded from the admission ticket. This museum was very quiet as few people seemed to be aware of its existence although it is actually marked on the palace map. I’m so pleased we found it as it was one of my favourite sections with its collection of costumes, elaborate state coaches, carriages and armour.
To complete our visit we went in search of the Royal Burial Church at Riddarholmen, five minutes walk away and definitely worth a visit. The church itself is very interesting and visitors are able to descend a flight of steps to view the royal burial tombs which were the most elaborate that I have ever seen. Up until 1950, seventeen Swedish monarchs have been buried in this church.
I would recommend a visit to the Royal Palace as one of the highlights of a visit to Stockholm but as there is so much to see, I think it would be necessary to allow at least three hours to see everything.
We were then feeling a little weary so we found a cosy pub on the edge of Gamla Stan (the old town) where we had beers and a light snack. Afterwards, we wandered through Kungsträdgården where children were keeping cool playing beneath the fountains in the shallow pool. All the way along here there were attractive cafes each with flower filled terraces and brightly coloured parasols enticing passersby to stop for a relaxing drink.
Reaching the far end of the park we noticed a No.7 heritage tram so we dashed on board just as the doors were about to close. Holders of SL-Access travel cards can ride on any of the trams with a valid ticket. Trams run from Kungsträdgården to Djurgården as there is no metro serving the island. The front carriage of the heritage tram has old fashioned wooden seats and a ticket booth where the conductor sits. For those passengers wishing to enjoy tea and cakes whilst travelling on the tram then the rear carriage is the place to be as this is equipped as a traditional little cafe.
The tram took us along to Djurgården so we had a short walk along the beautiful promenade before hopping on another tram back to the metro station. As it was still very hot we bought some Magnum ice creams from the supermarket near our apartment, had one each and popped the others in our small freezer for a later day.
After our lovely dinner at Ulla Win Bladh the previous evening, we decided to eat in and later enjoyed a forest walk not far from our accommodation in Solna.
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