Riddarhuset – the Knights’ House or House of the Nobility – is one of Stockholm’s most beautiful buildings. The seventeenth-century Baroque house was the main meeting place for the nobility.
For almost two centuries, noblemen gathered here to take political decisions. After the abolition of the Estates and the creation of a parliament in 1866 the nobility lost its political power, but even today representatives of the Swedish nobility meet here once every three years to discuss the activities of the Riddarhuset institutions.
In the mid-seventeenth century count Axel Oxenstierna, Lord High Chancellor of Sweden, commissioned the construction of the Riddarhuset. Construction started in 1641 after a design by Simon de la Vallée, but the architect died shortly after, and he was later succeeded by his son Jean de La Vallée. The design of the beautiful facade with red bricks and sandstone pediments is attributed to the Dutch architect Justus Vingboons. The two pavilions at the north side of the Riddarhuset were built later, in 1870.
Sculptures of Mars, the god of war and Minerva, goddess of wisdom rest above the north entrance of the Riddarhuset. The roof of the building is decorated with several allegorical statues.
Coats of Arms
The interior of the Riddarhuset is as impressive as its exterior. A monumental staircase leads to the Riddarhusalen, the great hall. In this hall hang about 2330 copper plates with the coats of arms of all the noble families that have been represented at the Riddarhuset.
At Riddarhustorget, in front of the Riddarhuset, stands a large statue of King Gustav Vasa. The statue was created in 1774 by Pierre Hubert Larchevêque, a French sculptor. It honors Gustav Vasa, king of Sweden from 1523 to 1560 and the first of the Vasa dynasty.
At the opposite side of the Riddarhuset, in the courtyard, stands a statue of Axel Oxenstierna, set on a tall pedestal. It was installed here in 1890 in honor of the man who initiated the construction of the House of the Nobility.