February 25, 2012

Four Statues, Four Kings

This post is for those of you who, like I, are curious about historical statues one encounters when visiting a foreign city. Plus, with the birth of a royal princess this week it felt fitting to write about some of her ancestors.
Charles XIV Johan
If you walk to the Old Town from the Rival Hotel, you encounter the first statue as you cross the bridge. The statue is of King Charles XIV Johan astride a horse. It was unveiled in 1854 and depicts the king riding into the city, as the newly elected crown prince. A bit of trivia... the king was born Jean Baptiste Bernadotte and was one of Napoleon's field marshals before being elected to the throne during a dynastic crisis in Sweden. The current king is of the Bernadotte dynasty.
Gustav III
If you continue along the waterfront of the Old Town you will encounter the next statue in front of the Royal Palace. This is Gustav III. Unveiled in 1808, it depicts the king returning in triumph from the Russian-Swedish War. The statue is inspired by the famous Roman statue Apollo Belvedere. A bit of trivia... Gustav III was assassinated during a masquerade ball in 1792 at the nearby opera house.
Charles XII
Continuing across the bridge towards central Stockholm you will come to the park Kungsträdgården and there you will find the statue of Charles XII, Sweden's Warrior King. The statue was unveiled in 1868 in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the king's death and depicts him pointing towards Russia and his arch-nemesis Czar Peter the Great. A bit of trivia... an exceptional military leader, the king spent the majority of his reign abroad at war with Russia, Denmark and Poland.
Gustav II Adolf
To the left of the statue is the Royal Opera House and behind it is Gustav Adolf Square where you will find, what else, a statue of Gustav II Adolf. The king was known as the "Lion of the North" and is most famous for leading the Protestant forces during the Thirty Year's War and thereby started Sweden's Age of Power. The statue was unveiled in 1796 and shows the king astride his warhorse Streiff.
This walk, from beginning to end (with short stops, won't take you more than half an hour or so.

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