Strömsholm Palace, sometimes called Strömsholm Castle is a Swedish royal palace. The baroque palace is built on the site of a fortress from the 1550s, located on an island in the Kolbäcksån river at the west end of Lake Mälaren. The palace has interiors from the 18th century and an important collection of Swedish paintings.
King Gustav Vasa had a fortress built at Strömsholm in the 1550s. This later provided the foundation for the present Strömsholm Palace, built in 1669-1674 for Queen Hedvig Eleonora to a design by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder. The palace consists of a central building framed by four square corner towers. On the park side, there is a large, domed central tower. Around 20 estate buildings were erected at the same time as the palace, and the first stages of a park in the French baroque style were laid out. Work on the interiors came to a halt when the building's fabric was completed. Not until the 1730s was the first phase of interior work carried out, including a palace chapel in the attic designed by the Swedish architect Carl Hårleman.
The interiors at Strömsholm Palace are largely Gustavian in style. In 1766 the heir to the Swedish throne, later King Gustav III, married Princess Sophia Magdalena of Denmark. As a wedding present from the Swedish Riksdag, she was given Strömsholm Palace. Extensive interior works commenced, under the architectural direction of Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz, and continued into the 19th century. The queen's bedchamber is a prime example of Swedish interior design from the start of the Gustavian era, as well as the Chinese dining room with its fabric-covered walls with Chinese style paintings done by the renowned tapestry painter Lars Bolander.
The palace also houses an important collection of Swedish paintings from the 17th century, amongst others David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl's paintings of King Charles XII's horses. Since the 16th century, Strömsholm has been an equestrian center of Sweden. In the 1550s, King Gustav Vasa reinforced the importance of horses here, by raising horses for Sweden´s army. The Strömsholm Riding School was a part of the Swedish Army from 1868 to 1968. Today, Strömsholm is used as a hippodrome, where equestrian competitions are held each year.
In 1985, the palace underwent major renovation of its facade. Over the years, the exterior had undergone various alterations, but the plasterwork as originally applied in the 1670s was largely intact. The roof was covered with tar shingles until the 19th century, when these were replaced with tin. The palace was restored in stages during the 1990s. The disposition of the rooms in the royal apartments was restored, and the 18th century furnishings were placed in the correct context. One of the most important features of the restoration was the reproduction of the 1760s wallpaper, the original of which was found in isolation on an attic beam in one of the houses on the estate. Old linen towels were transformed into royal wallpaper.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.