About 70km from Stockholm, Gripsholm Slott – with its round towers, spires, drawbridge and creaky wooden halls – was built in the 1370s and had passed into royal hands by the early 15th century. In 1526 Gustav Vasa took over and ordered the demolition of the adjacent monastery. A new castle with walls up to 5m thick was built using materials from the monastery; extensions continued for years. The oldest ‘untouched’ room is Karl IX’s bedchamber, from the 1570s.
The castle was abandoned in 1715 but renovated and extended during the reign of Gustav III (especially between 1773 and 1785). The moat was filled in and, in 1730 and later in 1827, two 11th-century rune stones were found. These stones stand by the access road and are well worth a look; one has a Christian cross, while the other describes an expedition against the Saracens. Gripsholm Slott was restored again in the 1890s; the moat was cleared and the drawbridge rebuilt.
The castle contains some of the state portrait collection, which dates from the 16th century. There are guided tours in English (20kr) at 3pm daily in summer.