Drottningholm Palace and Court Theater – Lake Mälaren, Svealand, Sweden

The Versailles of the North

Clearly inspired by the style of Versailles, the official year-round home of Sweden’s present-day King Carl XVI and Queen Silvia is widely held to be one of the most delightful European palaces. On its own tree-covered island (Drottningholm means “queen’s island”) in Lake Mälaren, the many-windowed rococo palace is open to the public even when the royal family is in residence.

Built in 1622 for Sweden’s Queen Eleonora, the interior still dazzles with its collection of opulent 17th- to 19th-century art and furniture, gilt ceilings, and magnificent chandeliers. Fountains and formal gardens further encourage comparisons to the real Versailles.

Visit the unforgettable Drottningholm Court Theater, the world’s most perfectly pre­served 18th-century theater, where perfor­mances are still given using original sets and stage machinery. Originally lit by 400 candles, today it is illuminated by as many flickering flame-shaped electric bulbs.

The wooden the­ater was built in 1766 by the mother of King Gustav III for an intimate audience of his friends and courtiers. The 18th-century operas and ballets performed today by some of Europe’s premier talents (and by an orchestra playing original period instruments) transport audiences back in time.

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