The importance of fire

Mankind has built fireplaces for thousands of years, for heat, light and cooking. Fireplaces have long been at the heart of the home, including at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

Over the course of history, there have been various types of fireplaces at the Royal Palace of Stockholm. Originally, there were mainly open fires in the grander rooms, tiled stoves in the smaller rooms and different types of baking ovens in the kitchens. When tiled stoves became more efficient during the latter part of the 18th century they also began to appear in the grander rooms. The system of heat-exchange channels that improved the tiled stove were first presented in 1767 and were designed by Carl Johan Cronstedt, Superintendent of the Royal Palace of Stockholm, and General Fabian Wrede. Swedish homes soon gained a reputation for being the best heated in Europe.

As technology developed, fireplaces became less important at the palace. In 1909 radiators were installed to heat the rooms using hot water. Oil heating was installed in 1950 followed by district heating during the 1990s and now solar panels are installed. However fires are still lit in some of the palace's fireplaces although today, this is more for the sake of cosiness.

Two of the fireplaces in the palace's ballroom, the Vita Havet Assembly Rooms, are still used. Here, fires are lit during the autumn and winter when the Royal Family invite guests to gala dinners and other forms of official representation.

The andirons here are shaped like lions. They are made from cast iron, and their function is to lift the wood so that air can circulate better. The choice of lions was probably not coincidental. The lion is a high-ranking animal, and a common motif in royal contexts.

The palace's wood cellar is located in the west wing, in part of the Tre Kronor Museum. It was built after the palace fire of 1697, and has been in use since the 18th century. To this day, wood is still brought from here when a fire is lit in one of the palace's remaining fireplaces. The wood used for fires comes from Royal Djurgården.

Fireplace in the Royal Palace of Stockholm's ballroom, the Vita Havet Assembly Rooms. The andirons in the foreground are shaped like lions. Video: Kaffegruppen/

You can find out more about the fire of 7 May 1697 by reading the article 'The Royal Palace of Stockholm: A history'. The Tre Kronor Castel was completely destroyed in just a few hours.


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