The history of Drottningholm Palace Chapel

Drottningholm Palace Chapel. Photo: The Royal Court

Drottningholm Palace Chapel. Photo: The Royal Court

King Johan III had a palace built at Torvesund in 1579 for Queen Katarina Jagellonica, under the direction of Dutch architect Willem Boy. Since the palace was built for a queen, it was named Drottningholm, meaning 'Queen's islet'. 

A devastating fire broke out during the 1661 New Year celebrations, and King Johan III's stone palace burnt to the ground.

After this, Queen Hedvig Eleonora commissioned the architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder to build a new palace. The architect designed a unique chapel in the northern part of the palace, which was completely different to contemporary chapels in its magnificent design.

Drottningholm Palace. Copperplate engraving from Erik Dahlbergh's Suecia Antigua. Original: The Royal Library

Drottningholm Palace. Copperplate engraving from Erik Dahlbergh's Suecia Antigua. Original: The Royal Library

It was not until 1696 that work began on the construction of the chapel. By then, fifteen years had passed since the death of the architect, and it was his son Nikodemus Tessin the Younger who completed his father's project.

The construction of the chapel was finished in 1701, but the decoration work was not started until 1728. The floor was laid with 306 brown and white Öland stone flooring stones. The retable was painted by Court Painter G E Schröder, the organ was built by Johan Niclas Cahman, and pews and other features were installed. This work was led by the architect Carl Hårleman.

At the end of 1730, 68 years after Nikodemus Tessin the Elder had drawn his first sketches for the new palace, Drottningholm Palace Chapel was ready for use.

Drottningholm Palace Chapel. Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlström/The Royal Court

Drottningholm Palace Chapel. Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlström/The Royal Court