Skokloster Castle was built in the Baroque style between 1654 and 1676 by the wealthy military commander and count Carl Gustaf Wrangel. The castle was designed by architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder. When Wrangel died, the castle passed into the hands of the Brahe family, and then, after 1930, became the property of the von Essens. In 1967 the castle and its contents were sold by the family to the Swedish government; since then it has been open as a museum.
The castle is a monument to the Swedish Age of Greatness, a period in the middle of the seventeenth century when Sweden expanded to became one of the major powers in Europe. The death of Wrangel in 1676 meant that the castle was never truly completed. The Brahe family who inherited the castle after Wrangels death, had their own family castles and did not complete the interiors. Thus the large banqueting hall remains in the same condition as the builders left it in the summer of 1676, complete with their tools. Skokloster Castle is the only building in Europe with a complete seventeenth-century building site of equal authenticity. Some rooms in the castle are unchanged since the time when the castle was first built. Others have been preserved using the same materials and building techniques as used in the 17th century.
The interiors of the castle are considered to be especially well preserved, despite being made of original material much of which is more than 300 years old and in a building without modern heating in a cold climate. It is not known exactly why the building preserves textiles and furniture so well, but it is thought to relate to the unusually slow changes in temperature during seasons.
The other, finished, parts of the castle displays the full, sumptuous splendour of the Baroque. The castle's detailed chambers are home to remarkable collections of paintings as well as furniture, textiles and silver and glass tableware. One of the most famous paintings is the 16-th century Vertumnus by Italian master Giuseppe Arcimboldo. It pictures the face of Holy roman emperor Rudolf II as the roman god of the seasons using fruits and vegetables. The painting was stolen in Prague in 17th century.
The castle armoury and library are particularly noteworthy, both founded on Wrangel's collections of weapons and books and enriched and enlarged by other seventeenth- and eighteenth-century aristocratic bequests, such as those by Carl Gustaf Bielke. The armoury contains the largest collection of personal 17th century military weapons in the world. Mostly muskets and pistols, but also swords - including Japanese samurai swords - small cannons, pikes and crossbows. The weapons collection also includes various exotic items such as a 16-century Eskimo canoe, snake skins and others. The original scale model of the castle which the architect Tessin made to show to count Wrangel is also there.References:
Claude Monet lived for forty-three years, from 1883 to 1926, in Giverny. With a passion for gardening as well as for colours, he conceived both his flower garden and water garden as true works of art. Walking through his house and gardens, visitors can still feel the atmosphere which reigned at the home of the Master of Impressionnism and marvel at the floral compositions and nymphéas, his greatest sources of inspiration.
In 1890 Monet had enough money to buy the house and land outright and set out to create the magnificent gardens he wanted to paint. Some of his most famous paintings were of his garden in Giverny, famous for its rectangular Clos normand, with archways of climbing plants entwined around colored shrubs, and the water garden, formed by a tributary to the Epte, with the Japanese bridge, the pond with the water lilies, the wisterias and the azaleas.
Today the Monet's Garden is open to the public.