The Royal Palace of Stockholm that replaced the old Tre Kronor Palace, and is considered one of the most impressive palaces in the world, dates back to the 18th century and is one of the most interesting historic buildings in the country. Designed by architect Nicodemus Tessin, the palace was constructed in the Baroque style and originally included 600 rooms, split over seven floors with the state apartment facing the city and smaller rooms facing the inner courtyard. However, after several extensions and expansions, the interior of the palace as of 2009, consists of 1,430 rooms and includes the apartments for the Royal families, the State Apartments, the Guest Apartments, and the Bernadotte Apartments. Apart from that, the huge palace is equipped with the Hall of State, the Royal Chapel, the Treasury, and the Tre Kronor Museum. Even the National Library of Sweden was housed in the northeast wing, until 1878.
It is believed that the first structure on the site was a medieval fortress built by Birger Jarl to protect Lake Mälaren in the 13th century. Eventually, it grew up to become a castle, Tre Kronor, or three crowns, named after the spire of the tower decorated with three crowns.
In 1523 when Gustav Eriksson of the Vasa noble family, later known as Gustav Vasa, became the King of Sweden, he took up residence at the Castle of Three Crowns, and since then it has become the official royal residence. Gradually, Under the Vasa Dynasty, the medieval fortress was transformed into a grand Renaissance Palace during the 1600s.
As a part of the old Tre Kronor castle, the northern row of the present palace was built in 1692, while a new Royal Chapel in the northern row was inaugurated at Christmas in 1696 to replace the old castle chapel erected by John III. However, on 7 May 1697, a castle fire ruined most of the earlier Tre Kronor Castle, except the newly constructed walls of the northern row. After the disastrous fire, the Regency Council of King Charles XII decided to build a new castle on the walls of the burnt castle. Accordingly, the remnants of the old castle were razed save for parts of the northern row, with the help of around 300 men from mid-May 1697 to mid-spring in 1700. Unfortunately, the construction of the palace that began with great intensity during the reign of Charles XII, remained suspended for a long time due to his defeat at the Battle of Poltava against Peter the Great in 1709. The palace remained in a semi-finished state until 1727 and was officially declared finished in 1771.
Constructed in Baroque style and made of brick and sandstone by the architect Nicodemus Tessin, The Royal Palace of Stockholm is formed as a Roman palace. While the four rows that comprise the building are commonly named after the four cardinal directions, the facades of the palace were each given their own design.
The star attraction of the palace, the magnificent state rooms, collectively known as the Royal Apartments, are scattered in different rows and different floors of the palace. The fascinating interior of the state rooms provides historical insight from the 1700s and onwards, where each monarch has left traces of his time. While the Banquet Hall was used at gala dinners, cabinet meetings, and parliamentary evenings, the State Apartments, consisting of nine rooms, and containing furniture from different epochs, were used as the residence for the foreign dignitaries on official state visits. Located on the north-west corner, the Cabinet Room was originally the dining room of Gustav III, and still today, it is used during cabinet meetings between the King and the government.
The state bed-chamber of Gustav III marks the room where he died in 1792 from a gunshot wound he received two weeks earlier. The rooms that follow, known as Karl XI's Gallery, make up a smaller copy of the mirror room in Versailles, decorated with impressive ceiling paintings portraying Karl XI´s war in Skåne in the 1670s. This is the room where reception dinners are held even today. Nowadays the Ballroom of the palace, known as the White Sea Hall, is not used so much for dancing, but plays a special function during the annual reception dinners. The Hall of State, containing the Silver Throne of Queen Christina, was designed by Carl Harleman and was introduced during the Parliamentary Opening of 1755. Located on the first floor of the western row, the Apartments of the Orders of Chivalry consist of four halls, one room for each order, displaying select objects used in Order related ceremonies. Named after Sweden's royal house and located on the first floor of the northern row, the Bernadotte Apartments, consisting of 14 rooms, contain pictures of almost all the older members of the Royal Family. King Oscar II and Queen Sophia were the last Royal Couple to use the apartment as living quarters. The Pillared Hall was originally Adolf Fredrik's dining room.
Originally, the Royal Chapel was in the northern row, and after the fire in 1697, it was built in the southern row. Carl Hårleman completed the chapel's interior in the middle of the 1700s, while the sculptures, statues, and the ceiling paintings were carried out by the foremost craftsmen of the period. It was inaugurated at the same time as the rest of the palace in 1754.
Another important section of the palace, the treasury, is in the cellar of the southern row, displaying the Regalia of Sweden. The Regalia are the symbolic objects that The King or Queen are presented with by the Archbishop on coronation day. The collection included two swords of state belonging to Gustav Vasa, and the crown belonging to Erik XIV. Several of The Princes and Princesses' crowns are also on display, including the silver baptismal font from 1696, which is still used at royal baptisms.
Apart from the Tre Kronor Museum, the Royal Palace of Stockholm also houses Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities, the second oldest museum in Sweden. King Gustav III was very much interested in art and antiquities, and he purchased several sculptures during his journey to Italy at the end of the 1700s. His collections, consisting of more than 200 sculptures are displayed in two stone galleries in the exhibition hall. The Larger Stone Gallery exhibits Endymion, which created a wave of interest in 1700.