Skokloster Castle – A Monument to Sweden’s Age of Greatness
Built in an era that came to be known as Sweden's Age of Greatness, the 17th century Skokloster castle is located on the shores of Lake Mälaren in the Svealand region of Sweden. The Baroque-style castle was designed by Swedish architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder, and constructed for Carl Gustaf Wrangel, a high-ranking Swedish military commander, statesman and count. Construction started in 1654 and the castle was completed in 1676. After changing ownership a number of times, it was bought by the Swedish government in 1967 and today stands as a museum and monument to the Swedish Age of Greatness – a period in the mid-17th century when Sweden was one of the major influential powers in Europe.
Visitors to Skokloster castle can enjoy a guided tour in either Swedish or English at set times of the day, or can take a self-guided tour through the castle and gardens. The original owner, Carl Wrangel, died in 1676 before the interior of the castle was completed, and subsequent owners never continued the work. As a result, some of the castle’s rooms have remained in the same condition as when they were first built. The large banqueting hall is an example of the unfinished state of some of the interior, as it still has the builders' tools lying about as they abandoned them in the summer of 1676.
Most of the castle's rooms were completed, however, and have stood the test of time remarkably well, giving visitors an authentic view of Baroque grandeur. Collections of paintings, furniture, textiles, glass and silver tableware are tastefully displayed, with the castle armory and library being of particular interest. The armory boasts the world's largest private collection of 17th century military weaponry, with muskets, pistols, small cannons, pikes, crossbows and swords – including distinctive Japanese samurai swords. The collection includes unusual items such as snake skins and a 16th-century Eskimo canoe. Also on display is the original scale model of Sweden's Skokloster castle made by the architect to show the count what his completed home would look like.
Skokloster castle has a permanent exhibition where visitors can discover exactly how the castle was built. Bearing in mind that it was built in the mid-17th century, the approach and techniques employed in the building of the castle were truly impressive, and in many cases set a precedent for construction methods used for other 17th century buildings. Set in beautifully landscaped gardens and superbly preserved, Skokloster castle truly is a monument to Sweden's Age of Greatness.