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Riddarholm Church in Stockholm - the burial place of kings

Riddarholm Church is Stockholm's only surviving medieval monastery church. This magnificent building, built at the end of the 13th century, has long served as the burial place of the Swedish kings. Almost all Swedish rulers, from Gustav II Adolf to Gustaf V, are buried here.

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Riddarholm Church

Riddarholm Church is not only magnificent with its tall cast iron spire. It also harbours a large and important part of Swedish royal history.

Riddarholmskyrkan

Riddarholmskyrkan is located on Riddarholmen, which together with the Old Town forms the historic centre of Stockholm.

A medieval monastery church

Riddarholm Church began to be built at the end of the 13th century by Franciscan monks, or Gråbrödramunkar as they were called in Sweden because they were dressed in grey. Magnus Ladulås, who was King of Sweden from 1275 to 1290, wrote in his will that he wanted to be buried here, and this probably influenced the church to become as lavish and powerful as it did.

Riddarholmskyrkan

The church was originally two-storeyed, but when the southern aisle was built in the 15th century, it became three-storeyed. Over time, the gravestones on the floor have also been added, because yes, you step on graves everywhere.

The characteristic cast-iron spire was added in 1835, after a fire caused the previous spire to collapse. The new one, designed by architect Erik Gustaf Göthe, took on a neo-Gothic style.

A church filled with royal tombs

With the exception of Queen Kristina, all Swedish rulers from Gustav II Adolf to Gustaf V are buried in Riddarholm Church. The medieval kings Magnus Ladulås and Karl Knutsson Bonde are also buried here. A total of 17 Swedish monarchs are buried in the church, with their families, making it a very special place.

The High Choir in Riddarholm Church

At the high choir you will find King Magnus Ladulås (1240-1290) and King Karl Knutsson Bonde (1408/1409-1470). It was these former kings who created the tradition of Riddarholm Church as a royal burial site.

Riddarholmskyrkan

The Gustavian tomb

The Gustavian tomb was built for Gustav II Adolf (1594-1632), who rests in a large Italian marble sarcophagus. In the adjacent coffins lie Queen Maria Eleonora (1599-1655), a stillborn daughter (1621), Princess Kristina (1623-1624) and Princess Agnes of Holstein-Gottorp (1578-1627).

There is also a Gustavian tomb in the lower regions of the church, but it is not open to visitors. Here lie the kings Adolf Fredrik (1710-1771), Gustav III (1746-1792), Charles XIII (1748-1818) and Gustav IV Adolf (1778-1837) and their consorts.

Det Gustavianska gravkoret

The Karolinska Grave Choir

In the Karolinska tomb, King Charles XII (1682-1718) rests in a black marble sarcophagus, and next to him lie Queen Ulrika Eleonora the Younger (1688-1741) and King Frederick I (1676-1751).

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Det Karolinska gravkoret

There is also a Carolingian vault, where King Charles X Gustav (1622-1660), Queen Hedvig Eleonora (1636-1715), King Charles XI (1655-1697) and Queen Ulrika Eleonora the Elder (1656-1693), among others, rest.

Det Karolinska gravvalvet

The The Bernadotte tomb

In the Bernadotte tomb, the ancestor of the dynasty, Charles XIV Johan (1763-1844), lies in a gleaming sarcophagus of river valley granite, with Queen Desideria (1777-1860) in front of him. The other rulers of the Bernadotte dynasty rest against the walls, the last in line being Gustav V (1858-1950), because in the early 1900s Crown Princess Margareta ensured that the royals were buried outdoors instead, in the open air. Haga Park.

The Bernadotte vault also houses a number of princes and princesses who lived in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Dt Bernadotteska gravkoret

More graves in Riddarholmskyrkan

It is not only royalty that is buried in Riddarholm Church, but also nobility and other important historical figures. Vasaätten's grave is named after Gustav Vasa's great-grandfather, Kristiern Nilsson Vasa, who lies here next to his wife Margareta Krummedike.

Riddarholmskyrkan

Some of the graves contain military figures from the Thirty Years' War, such as the famous Count and Field Marshal Lennart Torstensson.

Riddarholmskyrkan

In the Strijk tomb lie Governor Hans Strijk (1595-1653) and his wife Brita Skytte. This tomb is special because the spouses are sculpted in life size.

Riddarholmskyrkan

The tomb of Christ - a 600-year-old statue

The Tomb of Christ is not another tomb, but a wooden sculpture from around 1400 depicting Christ that was used in the Easter Passion Play in the Middle Ages. The sculpture came to Riddarholm Church in the Middle Ages, but in the 18th century it was moved from one place to another and only found its way back in the 19th century. Then it was forgotten in an attic, and it is only recently that it has once again been given a visible place in the church.

Kristi grav

Seraphim shields and Seraphim rings

Another attraction of Riddarholm Church is the Seraphim shields, which have been hung here since 1748. These are shields for knights and members of the Order of the Seraphim, which is Sweden's most prestigious and highest honour.

When a Seraphim knight is buried, Riddarholm Church performs a so-called Seraphim ringing. After the ringing has taken place, the shield is moved here and hung in the church.

Serafimerorden

Visiting Riddarholm Church

Riddarholm Church is open to the public for a fee between May and September. Very interesting to visit! Since 1809, no regular services have been organised, but the church serves as a museum and memorial church. In the summer, classical concerts are usually organised in the church.

Riddarholmskyrkan

Things to see and do near Riddarholm Church

Not far from the Riddarholm Church is the House of Knights, which is open to the public for one hour a day and unexpectedly interesting to visit. Close by is also Old Town, which offers lots of sights such as the Royal Palace, Storkyrkan with St Göran and the dragon, Stortorget and Västerlånggatan where we have 30 hot tips. You can also take the opportunity to stroll in Kungsträdgården, where the Makalös Palace once stood.

Göra i Uppland
Want more tips on things to do in Uppland? Click here!

Have you been to Riddarholm Church?

Have you visited the Riddarholm Church in Stockholm? Do you like this kind of historical sights?

Facts about Riddarholm Church

  • Address: Birger Jarls torg 3, Riddarholmen.
  • Municipality: Stockholm
  • County: Stockholm County
  • Landscape: Uppland
  • Read more: You can find more information on the Royal Palace website.

service and practical information

  • Opening hours: Riddarholm Church is open during May - September, most days 10-17. For current opening hours see the Royal Palace website.
  • Prices: A fee is charged for visiting the church. We do not remember the price.
  • Toilet: There is no toilet in the church. The nearest toilet is at the Riddarholmen car park, Wrangelska backen/Gymnasiegränd.
  • Rules: Prams, dogs and large bags cannot be brought into the church. Photography is allowed for private use, but without flash, selfie stick or other fixed equipment. Consumption and smoking are not permitted. Ringtones on mobile phones must be switched off.

Accessibility

  • Entrance: The entrance for wheelchair users is on the long side of the church. Staff will open it after calling the intercom. Free entry when passing through here, as the ticket office is inaccessible.
  • Indoor environment: The floor is made of tombstones and is somewhat uneven. There are ramps at individual steps and level differences.
  • Toilet: There is no toilet. There is a public toilet at the car park, but it is unclear whether this is accessible.
  • Companions: Free admission for companions/assistants accompanied by users.
  • Parking: Parking for people with special authorisation is available at the wheelchair entrance.

History of Riddarholm Church

  • 1270: A Franciscan monastery was founded on what is now Riddarholmen. Here it was also called the Order of the Grey Friars, because the monks were dressed in grey.
  • 1285: At this time, construction of the church was underway. Magnus Ladulås wrote in his will that he wanted to be buried here.
  • 1300: The church was completed around this time. It was built entirely in brick, which was unusual in Sweden, and was very lavish.

15th century to 16th century

  • 15th century: It was opened up between a cloister and the nave.
  • 1470: King Karl Knutsson Bonde was buried in Riddarholm Church.
  • 1483: It is believed that the first book printed in Sweden was printed here (Dyalogus creaturarum moralizatus - The moral dialogue of creation).
  • 16th century: The tower building was added.
  • 1527: After the Reformation Parliament in Västerås In this year, Sweden broke with the Roman Catholic Church and the Franciscan monks were forced to leave the monastery. The monastery buildings were demolished, but the church was preserved.

17th to 18th century

  • 1629: Gustav II Adolf ordered that a tomb be built for him in the church - the Gustavian tomb.
  • 1632: Gustav II Adolf was killed at the Battle of Luetzen
  • 1634: Gustav II Adolf was buried in the church. This was followed by the Karolinska tomb, the Bernadotte tomb and others.
  • 1748: The Order of the Seraphim was established, which is a Swedish royal order and Sweden's highest honour. Knights and members of the Order of the Seraphim have a coat of arms painted, and these are transferred to Riddarholm Church after death.

19th century to present

  • 1807: The church became a burial and memorial church, with no regular services.
  • 1835: The church burned and the spire collapsed and was replaced by a neo-Gothic cast iron spire designed by Erik Gustaf Göthe.
  • 1922: A new royal cemetery was created outdoors, in Haga Park, following the ideas of Crown Princess Margareta. To commemorate them, the Riddarholm Church features the 'Haga Wall', with seraphim shields of those buried in Haga.
  • 1950: Gustav V was the last to be laid to rest in Riddarholm Church.

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