National symbols of Sweden

Royal Palace

The Stockholm Palace (Kungliga Slottet) is the official residence and major royal palace of the Swedish monarch. The offices of the monarch and the other members of the Swedish Royal Family as well as the offices of the Royal Court of Sweden are located there. The palace is used for representative purposes by the King whilst performing his duties as the head of state. The first building on this site was a fortress with a ...
Founded: 17th - 18th century | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Riddarholmen Church

The Riddarholmen Church (Riddarholmskyrkan) is the burial church of the Swedish monarchs. The congregation was dissolved in 1807 and today the church is used only for burial and commemorative purposes. Swedish monarchs from Gustavus Adolphus (d. 1632 AD) to Gustaf V (d. 1950) are entombed here (with exceptions such as Queen Christina who is buried within St. Peter's Basilica in Rome), as well as the earlier monarchs Magnu ...
Founded: ca. 1270-1300 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Uppsala Cathedral

Uppsala Cathedral is the largest and tallest cathedral and one of the most impressive religious buildings in Scandinavia. Originally built in the 13th century under Roman Catholicism and used for coronations of the Swedish monarch, since the Protestant Reformation, it has been controlled by the Lutheran Church of Sweden. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Uppsala, the primate of Sweden. The construction of the cathedral ...
Founded: 1287-1435 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Drottningholm Palace

The Drottningholm Palace is the private residence of the Swedish royal family. It was originally built in the late 16th century. It served as a residence of the Swedish royal court for most of the 18th century. Apart from being the private residence of the Swedish royal family, the palace is a popular tourist attraction. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, mainly because of its Theatre (an opera house located at the ...
Founded: 1662 | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Gripsholm Castle

Gripsholm Castle is regarded as one of Sweden's finest historical monuments. A fortress was built at the location around 1380 by Bo Jonsson Grip, and belonged to his family until the confiscation of mansions and castles by King Gustav I in 1526. The King tore it down, and built a fortified castle with circular corner towers and a wall, for defensive purposes. Of the original medieval fortress, only the façade of a ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Mariefred, Sweden

Vadstena Abbey

The Abbey of Our Lady and of St. Bridget, more commonly referred to as Vadstena Abbey, was the motherhouse of the Bridgettine Order. The abbey started on one of the farms donated to it by the king, but the town of Vadstena grew up around it. The abbey was founded in 1346 by Saint Bridget with the assistance of King Magnus IV of Sweden and his Queen Blanche of Namur, who made a will donating ten farms to the abbey founded ...
Founded: 1346 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

The Royal Mounds

The Royal mounds (Kungshögarna) is the name for the three large barrows which are located in Gamla (Old) Uppsala. According to ancient mythology and folklore, it would be the three gods Thor, Odin and Freyr lying in Kungshögarna. In the 19th and 20th centuries, they were speculated to hold the remains of three kings of the legendary House of Ynglings and where thus known by the names Aun's Mound, Adil's Mound an ...
Founded: 400-500 AD | Location: Gamla Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden

Varnhem Abbey

Varnhem Abbey (Varnhems kloster) was founded around 1150 by monks of the Cistercian Order from Alvastra Abbey in Östergötland. The Cistercian Order used the same floor plan for all its abbeys, which makes it possible to easily locate the different rooms and halls regardless of the building site. A wooden and a stone church were both erected on the site before the abbey was built. The stone church was erected in ...
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Varnhem, Sweden

Husaby Church

Husaby Church is one of the most interesting historical sites in Sweden. The first stave church was built probably in the 10th century. Olof Skötkonung, the first Christian king of Sweden, is rumoured to have allowed himself to be baptised at a well by the church in 1008. Husaby was also the seat of bishop until 1150s. The present church was built in the early 1100s and influenced by German and English missionaries. Arc ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Götene, Sweden

Birka

During the Viking Age, Birka was an important trading center. The archaeological sites of Birka and Hovgården, on the neighbouring island of Adelsö, make up an archaeological complex which illustrates the elaborate trading networks of Viking Scandinavia and their influence on the subsequent history of Europe. Generally regarded as Sweden's oldest town, Birka (along with Hovgården) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site ...
Founded: ca. 750 AD | Location: Adelsö, Sweden

Näs Castle Ruins

In the 12th and 13th century, Näs (or Visingö) Castle on the southern end of Visingsö was the residence for the fragile Swedish monarchy. It was built probably by Sverker I of Sweden (died in 1156) or his son Charles VII of Sweden (Karl Sverkersson). Näs was thereby the oldest Royal castle in Sweden. It was a residence 5-6 kings before in 1318 Birger I (Birger Magnusson) pawned it to Danish. The castle ...
Founded: mid-1100s | Location: Visingsö, Sweden

Stones of Mora

Stones of Mora was the place where the Swedish kings were elected. The origin of the tradition is unknown, but it has been known since the 13th century and mentioned by Snorri Sturlason (died 1241). The first known document tells that Magnus Ladulås was elected at the Stones of Mora in 1275. Magnus IV was elected at the stones on July 8, 1319 and Kristian I in 1457. He was the last to be elected at the stones. The ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.