In Old Town (Gamla Stan) Stockholm, there is a small island (Riddarholmen). On that islet sits the Riddarholm Church (Riddarholmskyrkan).
Since I’m not typically attracted to medieval architecture, when I was in Stockholm I kept walking by the church, with no desire to go inside—until I heard that it functions as Sweden’s royal burial church.
Royalty is buried here? In, I must go!
Its humble entry reminded me that this is the only medieval church left standing in Stockholm. I find it so hard to comprehend that its history began in the 1200s.
Once inside, on nearly every large stone tile beneath one’s feet, inscriptions memorialize Sweden’s monarchs and those closest to them. Concerned that walking on these engraved stones might be disrespectful, I stepped gently.
Mysteries also abound. Is a King buried here?
(He’s supposed to be.)
Many men in Sweden (including a family member of mine) appear to be named after King Gustav II Adolf, who had quite a role in Sweden’s history. Here he is, laid to rest in this south nook of the Riddarholm Church.
Most of his immediate family members are also memorialized here, next to him. Notice the three smaller coffins, two of them tiny (two of his children were stillborn, another lived less than a year).
This is quite a memorial to contemplate.
This artistry I simply adored.
Toward the front of the church, I turned left and walked down the stairs, where I was able to peek into the burial vault beneath the Bernadotte Chapel. Times have changed, haven’t they?
Even outside, there was quite a sight to see (like these copper downspouts) on the Riddarholm Church. Copper downspouts, all over Stockholm, are one of my favorite things to see. Also, notice the different colored bricks and mortar, which appear to have been added over time.
If these photos feel peaceful and free of crowds, it’s because the Riddarholm Church and its surrounding area were. Just steps away from the hustle and bustle of Stockholm, it was a quiet respite. And a calming place for a beautiful history lesson.
Upon entering the Riddarholm Church lobby, one can see much of the church interior right from that spot.
To tour the church (past the lobby/to see everything up close), one needs to pay a small fee.
One can ask the clerk about taking a guided tour. I wish I had joined a guided tour.
Historical plaques throughout the church also inform and guide guests through its history.
One can walk through the Riddarholm Church quickly (in a few minutes) or slowly (an hour or more). There’s no pressure, either way.
The cobblestone area, outside the church, can be a beautiful place to walk or meditate (there are benches to the west, near the water).
Free restrooms (toalett) can also be found to the west, near the water, in an administration building. One can freely wander inside to find them.
I can’t emphasize enough how unbelievable it was to experience this peaceful little corner of Stockholm, with the hustle and bustle just steps away. A perfect place of rest.