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 palace) and the Chinese Pavilion.
The palace was originally a renaissance building designed by Willem Boy, a stone palace built by John III of Sweden in 1580 for his queen, Catherine Jagellon. The Queen Dowager Regent Hedwig Eleonora bought the castle in 1661, a year after her role as Queen of Sweden ended, but it burnt to the ground on 30 December that same year. Hedwig hired the famous Swedish architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder to design and rebuild the castle. With the castle almost complete, Nicodemus died in 1681. His son Nicodemus Tessin the Younger continued his work and completed the elaborate interior designs. During the reign of the kings Charles XI and Charles XII, the royal court was often present at the palace.
Drottningholm served regularly as a residence for the royal court from ca 1720 until 1792. After the death of Hedvig Eleonora in 1715, Queen Ulrika Eleonora and King Frederick I held court at the palace until 1744. The court of Gustav IV Adolf (reign 1792–1809) and Charles XIII (reign 1809–1818) used the palace more sporadically. In 1797, Frederica of Baden was celebrated here with great festivities, and in 1809, the deposed king was kept here under guards in the Chinese parlour for eleven days.
In the 19th century Drottningholm was ignored and started to decay, because it was regarded as a symbol of the old dynasty. The buildings were severely damaged by the forces of nature, and their inventories were either taken away or auctioned off. It was apparently opened to the public for the first time during this period: a tour was mentioned in 1819, and people used the park for picnics. Occasionally, the grounds were used for public events.
In 1907, a major four-year restoration of the palace was begun to restore it to its former state, after which the royal court began to use it regularly again. The current Swedish royal family have used Drottningholm as their primary residence since 1981. Since then, the Palace has also been guarded by the Swedish Military in the same fashion as Stockholm Palace.
The gardens and park areas surrounding the castle and its buildings are one of the main attractions for the tourists that visit the palace each year. The gardens have been established in stages since the castle was built, resulting in different styles of parks and gardens. The oldest part, a baroque garden, was created at the end of the 17th century under the direction of Hedwig Eleonora. Gustav III took the initiative for what is sometimes called the English garden section of Drottningholm. This lies north of the baroque garden and consists of two ponds with canals, bridges, large open sections of grass, and trees in groups or avenues. Walkways are laid out throughout this large part of the park. Throughout this area "vistas" can be seen, cleared lines of sight that are intentionally constructed to draw the eye to a particular view. Most of the antique marble statues throughout the gardens were purchased by Gustav III from Italy.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.