Far East Meets Northern Europe

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.

Chinese Pavilion at Drottningholm Palace

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.

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