Originally built in the late 16th century, Drottningholm Palace is the private residence of the Swedish royal family as well as one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. The palace is also home to the Drottningholm Palace Theatre which was opened in 1766 as the replacement of an earlier theater that was destroyed by a fire. The theatre was forgotten and fell into disrepair for quite some time after the assassination of King Gustav III in 1792. In 1920 restoration work began on the theatre and was completed and re-opened in 1922 and is currently run by a private foundation funded by government and private grants. In 1991 the site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list as the “Royal Domain of Drottningholm” because it is a wonderful example of 18th century European royal residences. The amazingly preserved theater is one of the major reasons for Drottningholm’s inscription on the UNESCO list.
Another major reason is the Chinese Pavilion and Gardens, built in 1753 on the palace grounds they feature the amazing “China Castle”, which houses some of the finest European rococo interiors you will ever see. Built during a time when chinoiserie (Chinese-esque style) was the height of fashion, the China Castle is one of the finest examples remaining of this interior style. The original wooden structure was commissioned by King Adolf Fredrik as a surprise birthday present for his wife Queen Lovisa Ulrike. The building was highly appreciated and in the 1760s, the structure was replaced by a more permanent one which still stands to this day. The oldest garden at Drottningholm Palace was planted in near the end of the 1600s on orders from Queen Hedvig Eleonora and restored during the 1950-60s; it is known as the baroque garden. Inspired by the newly planted gardens in France and it follows a strict ordered and symmetrical layout. For a good portion of the 19th century Drottningholm Palace was abandoned, ignored and allowed to decay during the reign of Charles XIV John of Sweden; he regarded the palace as a symbol of the old dynasty. Several buildings were severely damaged during this time, and the building inventories were also taken or auctioned off. It wasn’t until the reign of Oscar I of Sweden that an interest was again taken in the palace and it was repaired. Both Oscar I and Oscar II were significantly criticized for modernizing the palace and adjusting it to fit the fashion of the time instead of restoring it to its original state. Thankfully during the reign of Gustav V (1907-1950) the palace and surroundings were restored to their 18th century appearance.
The reception halls of the palace are open all year round to the public and guided tours are available. Be sure to check out the new visitor’s center, it has lots of useful information, The Royal Gift Shop which offers unique presents and souvenirs, and even a restaurant so you can grab some lunch or a drink to quench your thirst. Drottningholm Palace is open all year around usually opening at around 11 am, it is closed on New Year’s Eve & Day as well as Christmas Eve & Day as well as Boxing Day. Entrance to the palace will cost adults a little under $12 and about $6 for children 7-18. Tickets during the summer can be purchased which include admission to the Chinese Pavilion and run about $17 for adults and about $9 for kids 7-18. Children under 7 accompanied by a guardian are always free.