12 Feb 2009

A walk in the park

One very misty Saturday not long ago, me, my husband and his daughter met up with his parents in the Haga park (the mist was insane! See picture above . But it was very, very pretty and made for great picture-taking.)

The Haga park is a green oasis resting between the two cities of Stockholm and Solna, gently caressed by the shores of Brunnsviken, and a much beloved recreation spot for the public all year round - go skiing in the winter and have picnics in the summer.

What makes Haga more than just a lovely patch of nature just outside the city, is that it was planned and created by no one else than king Gustaf III who ruled Sweden between the years 1771-1792.

The young king bought some land and estate as early as 1771, serving as a place for relaxation and recreation for the young king, and he often brought with him his court for various outdoor activities in the summer (pleasure trips in custom-made gondolas, among others!) The king didn't mind the very modest lodgings; in the house where he resided during his visits, he only used four out of nine rooms.

Enter landscape architect Fredrik Magnus Piper. In 1780, just returned from a journey in Europe where he had had the opportunity to pick up the latest trends, the king employed him to make Haga into a English park so English you could declare war on France with it (the general idea of an English park, if I understand correctly, is to make a park or garden look like Real Nature, only better and on your own terms).

The work started for real in 1783 and the king wasn't lacking ideas (only money, but that's another story). While Piper and his boys beat the sh*t out of nature to make it look more natural, the king planned to transform Haga from a sleepy get-a-way-place in the country into an official site definitely connected with the capitol. An impressing castle in the classical style would crown the whole project and the first stone was laid in 1786.

Six years later, the king was dead, and all future plans for Haga became permanently postponed.

But many of the king's plans had been realized during his last years, and the beautiful thing about it is that most of it can still be seen in this very day and age, pretty much as it was seen in the days of Gustaf III.

So follow us as we walk through the misty park, in the melting snow, with soaking suede boots and accordingly very cold feet:

The Copper Tents:

Created in 1787 as stables and lodgings for the king's guards, the "tents" hide rustic timber buildings and were designed to look like theatrical side-scenes (Gustaf III was indeed a passionate lover of theatre, and the designer, Desprez, wasn't new to making décor for the theatres in and around Stockholm).
Partially restored after fire, the tents today serve as café and museum.

Gustaf III's Pavilion

Intended as a temporary home for the royal family until the Big Castle was finished, the work on the pavilion began in 1787. The middle piece was an existing building that had been built 10 years earlier and acquired by Gustaf III in his mission for the expansion of the park.
The king only came to enjoy a few years in his pavilion; some parts of the interior had been finished just a few days before his demise, and it was even this very place he went from before the assassination at the masquerade ball at the Stockholm opera house on March 16, 1792.
The place was partially remodelled in the 1840's but thanks to original blueprints, much of it's 1790's splendour could be restored in 1937-46.

In the summer the pavilion is open for the public. I'm sorry to say that I haven't been on one of the guided tours myself. Yet.

The Echo Temple

The king enjoyed a good meal outdoors and the temple was built for that purpose, and also features amazing acoustics. Most of the décor as wee see it today is a reconstruction of the makeover the temple was given in the 1840's.
I've spent many merry hours of fun and party in this temple, I even spent one whole night there and dragged myself home by the time the sun slowly rose over the... Naah, it was so beautiful that it only gets pathetic when you try to describe it with mere words!


I know nothing about this urn, but it's pretty, no? You can't tell from the picture, but it's huge - you could easily fit an adult person into it (heey...)

The Cave

"The cave" is actually a tunnel for a planned construction that would supply water to a reservoir on top of the mountain. A steam-engined pump in the shape of a Gothic castle was considered, but in 1791 the king purchased a windmill instead, but it probably never made it to Haga.


There are many more reminders of Gustaf III to be seen in Haga, but I think I mentioned something about very cold feet, so this was all we brought from our wintry walk. There may well be a few trips to Haga in the summer though, so if I remember to bring the camera than...

This bridge, which leads to the royal burial ground, is of a later date, but I liked how the picture turned out so here you go:


  1. What beautiful pictures!
    Thank you for sharing!

  2. I'm glad you liked them! It really helps when you have a good camera (I don't, but sometimes my husband borrows one from his work). And then there's always Photoshop... ahem.)

  3. jag åker med dig till barcelona. jag går med dig på museet sen går du med mig på barer, vad det nu heter i spanien, och shoppar kläder på motsvarande UFF.