History, secrets and ghosts

Örebro Castle – a venue for important meetings and celebrations since the late 14th century

Many members of Sweden’s royal family have used the castle throughout history for important gatherings and celebrations. This is where Gustav Vasa adopted a law on hereditary monarchy, Gustavus Adolphus held sessions of the Swedish Parliament and festivities, and Charles XIV John of Sweden gave his first (and last) speech in Swedish. But today you don’t have to be royalty to use the castle, you can simply book it for a meeting or party as an individual or company.

Other floors house the castle’s party and conference venues, which are managed by the Elite Stora Hotellet. Contact Elite for further information, and they can help you create an event fit for a king.

A castle packed with history, secrets and ghosts

Travel back in time at Örebro’s stunning royal castle. You can go on exciting ghost walks, look for treasures and join guided tours that will take you from the castle’s damp, dark dungeons for prisoners of war, thieves and witches, up to the magnificent halls built for royal personages such as Charles IX and Charles XIV John.

At one time a simple stronghold with a prison, it was rebuilt during the reign of Gustav Vasa to create a splendid royal castle. Today the castle is a thriving, open attraction offering guided tours, events and exhibitions. You can also hold conferences or host parties at the castle, and for the children there are fun tours and the opportunity to celebrate their birthday in style.

From simple stone building to royal castle

Many chapters in Sweden’s history have been written within Örebro Castle’s hefty walls. Ever since medieval times, the castle has been at the very heart of the city of Örebro. Protected by the fast-flowing River Svartån, the castle has watched over all who crossed the river.

No-one really knows how old the castle is. It’s possible that the oldest section of the castle was a medieval stone building that was later expanded to include a watchtower with a height of over 30 metres. The tower was surrounded by a seven-metre-high and three-metre-thick curtain wall. We are more certain about the emergence of a larger stronghold here in the mid-14th century, most likely constructed on the orders of King Magnus Eriksson. This stronghold, which was called Örebrohus, consisted of three rows of apartments across three floors, positioned around the old tower.

Örebrohus was often drawn into conflicts during the Middle Ages. Up until 1568, the stronghold was besieged a total of nine times. In 1434, Örebrohus was taken by Engelbrekt, who later used it as a home. Others who succeeded in the challenging task of conquering the stronghold include the Danish King Christian II, also known as Christian the Tyrant, and Gustav Vasa, who on his march to take the throne in 1522 following a nine-month siege managed to take the badly damaged castle.

The Duke’s Renaissance castle

Although Gustav Vasa never had Örebrohus rebuilt, both Örebro and the stronghold were significant sites during his reign. The synod in Örebro in 1529 is regarded as a milestone on the path towards a Protestant Sweden, and at the beginning of 1540, a law on hereditary monarchy was formally adopted during a ceremony in the Hall of State. On the death of Gustav Vasa twenty years later, Örebrohus was inherited by his youngest son Duke Charles, later King Charles IX, who in 1573 embarked on comprehensive rebuilding and extension work that was completed in 1625, some 50 years later.

Duke Charles himself was the main person responsible for the appearance of the building. He took inspiration from the Renaissance castles he had visited during his travels in France and other countries. The old medieval stronghold was transformed into a magnificent Renaissance castle, whose main building was as high as the old tower. The castle was equipped with a robust turret in each corner, plastered in a cream colour and richly decorated. A solid gate tower and drawbridge were constructed at the entrance, and a curtain wall ran around the entire castle, the remains of which can be found at the northern side of the castle. But even before the castle was finished, once again it found itself at the centre of events. From 1606 until 1617, a total of six sessions of the Swedish Parliament were held at the castle, under the leadership of Charles IX and his son Gustavus Adolphus. Perhaps the most significant of these was the parliamentary session of 1617, which saw the adoption of the forerunner to Sweden’s current Swedish Parliament Act.

The classical castle

During the latter half of the 17th century, the castle began to fall into ruin and despite its severely dilapidated condition, renovations were not carried out until the end of the 1750s. Örebro Castle was now transformed into an austere edifice in a classical style with an almost entirely flat roof. The curtain wall was demolished and replaced by stone bridges and terraces, all preserved to this day. An exclusive apartment for the county governor was also built, which is still used today by Örebro County’s governors.

The castle was used for several purposes during this period, including as a prison and lock-up, rifle store and granary. In 1810, Örebro was back in the limelight when Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was elected King of Sweden at a parliamentary session in Örebro, and given the name Charles (XIV) John. The castle functioned as a home for royalty, while St Nicolai church in the main square, Stortorget, functioned as a hall of state.

Örebro Castle has been used as a prison since medieval times. Originally, the basement of the keep served as a dungeon, but over time several of the rooms on the bottom and fourth floors came to be used as a prison, torture chamber and lock-up. Danish, Russian and Saxon soldiers, Russian and Polish generals and Swedish petty thieves all did time here. The most celebrated of all the castle’s prisoners was without a doubt the notorious Swedish cross-dressing criminal, Lasse-Maja.

The 20th century castle

Örebro Castle acquired its current appearance during a reconstruction effort to restore its Renaissance style towards the end of the 19th century. The corner towers were given new domes, according to a slightly romanticised idea of how the towers might have looked during Duke Charles’ era. The plaster was broken off and the two western towers were raised by one floor.

The interior of the castle has been refurbished several times since then. In the 1920s, the County Administrative Board took over large parts of the building for use as offices. At the end of the same decade, the county governor’s apartment was renovated and the old 18th century interior re-emerged. At about the same time, the Hall of State was furnished, along with the Armoury and Engelbrekt Hall.

The County Administrative Board left the castle at the beginning of the 1990s, after which time the castle underwent extensive interior refurbishment. The small offices were restored to the large halls they had once been, and walls were repainted using chalk paints. It was time to bring back the old.