Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Royal Weekend

by Alexandra Wright and Jane Rivas

This past weekend, our group embarked on an exploration of the Swedish Royal Palace.  Along with viewing the Royal State and Bernadotte Apartments, we were treated to a viewing of the Changing of the Guard, glimpses of the Royal Treasury, a walking tour of the palace’s exciting history, as well as the antiquities collection of King Gustav III.  We began the day with a guided tour of the Royal Apartments as an introduction to the palace.  After a fire in 1697 that destroyed much of the medieval castle, the current building was completed in 1757.  The rebuilt palace modeled its exteriors on the Baroque, and its later completed interiors after the Rococo.  Many of the rooms drew directly from the decorative designs of Versailles.  Each aspect of ornamentation within the lavish rooms was imbued with meaning for not only visiting dignitaries, but also for the members of the royal family.  One could tell their place in court simply by the state of the plastered ivy encircling the royal shield above their bedroom door.

After having toured the castle, a brief respite in the day’s rain enabled us to witness the parade of the guards and military band.  As they waved the Swedish flag and changed the guard, a program of national tunes, including a few of ABBA, entertained the crowds of tourists.  When the band marched away and the rain again began to fall, our touring continued with the glittering items of the Royal Treasury.  The crown jewels were followed by an exploration of the archeological remains of the original Tre Kronor Castle.  Built into the base of the building, the Tre Kronor Museum presented a fascinating exploration of the pottery shards, suits of armor, and delicate china that were recovered from the ashes of the 1697 fire.  Each aspect of the Royal Palace presented an in depth view of the Swedish Monarchy from the beginnings of its reign to the present day.

Amid this whirlwind immersion into the cultural past, we were also lucky enough to stumble upon one of the cellar cafes of Gamla Stan.  Built into basements of the homes lining the streets of the city’s central island, these medieval alcoves have been transformed into modern and themed cafes.  Resting between tours, we dined on traditional Swedish dishes and deliciously warm beverages.  The homemade white hot chocolate found particular favor with our group!

Alexandra Wright is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently studying Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Human Dimensions. Chicago, IL

Jane Rivas is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She is currently studying in the pre-medical field and pursuing a duel degree in Chemistry and the History of Art.  Jane is studying in Stockholm, Sweden with the Arctic Summer Program.


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