Sweden seems an unlikely place for a Chinese pavilion. However, the grounds of Stockholm’s Drottningholm Palace are home to an extraordinary Chinese-inspired edifice constructed in 1753. At the time, trade with the Far East was booming, and Europeans were fascinated by all things Asian.
The structure, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built by King Adolf Fredrik as a birthday present for Queen Lovisa Ulrika. The surprised queen described the pleasure palace as “the most beautiful you can see.”
During the 1760s, the original Chinese Pavilion, a prefabricated wooden house, was replaced by a sturdier one, which has a rococo interior with Oriental influences. The historic landmark made news headlines in 2010, when thieves broke into the building, shattered display cases and stole a number of valuable Chinese objects.
The pavilion at Drottningholm isn’t the only Chinese-influenced structure constructed by European royalty. In the early 1900s, Belgium’s King Leopold II created a Chinese Pavilion in Brussels. Today it is part of the Museums of the Far East, which house a fine collection of Asian ceramics and art.