Saturday I took an hour ferry ride west to Drottningholm, location of the residence of the Swedish royal family. I’m not real big into “royals” but it was a beautiful sunny day and I heard they only get 15 of those a year in Stockholm, so I jumped at the chance to take a ferry ride in the sun and figured at the very least the grounds would be a nice place to relax.
The palace was alright, I found two things photo worthy: the staircase and a grandfather clock. I won’t bore you with historical details, but here are the pictures:
There’s a dual purpose for picking the grandfather clock. I can tell by the blog site stats that many of my readers don’t know there are other pages to my website in addition to the blog posts! Grandfather clocks happen to play a part in the name of my blog, which you can read all about on my “About” page!
Anyway, after about 20 minutes in the palace I moved on to the grounds. There are many interesting things on the grounds but I’m going to write about one in particular, King Gustav III’s hedge maze. Random, I know, but I’ve always wanted to find one of those hedge mazes, like in Alice in Wonderland, or the 4th Harry Potter movie… Well, turns out Gustav III also loved mazes (side note on Gustav III: he was assassinated by his own parliament, who shot him in the stomach at a masquerade ball, but he didn’t die until 13 days later of septisemia…). Ironically, John B. McLemore, the subject of the podcast S-Town (again, read my About page), also loved hedge mazes, so much so that he built one on his property!
But back to Gustav’s maze, which is not identified on a single map on the grounds, and I just happened upon it while wandering the outskirts of the grounds (fate?). A couple quick facts:
- To give you a sense of the time period, this maze was completed in the mid 1780’s.
- When it was in it’s prime, the maze had 3-meter high hedges (almost 10 feet) but after Gustav was killed, the maze deteriorated. Now it has been restored but only using grass not hedges.
- The maze was a replica of a maze in Villa Altieri, a palace in Italy, and Gustav visited it three times.
Well, about 5 minutes into this maze I was 1) slightly disappointed to learn this was not a “pick your path” maze, but rather a labyrinth where you simply follow the path and 2) quickly over my disappointment because this thing was incredible.
If you know me well, you probably know I enjoy puzzles, and if you know me really well, you probably know I have a hard time stopping a puzzle once I start. So once I had put 5 minutes into this thing there was no turning back. Walking at a brisk pace it took me 45 minutes to reach the center (marked by the white statue). Good thing it wasn’t a “pick your path” maze, I’d have probably missed my return ferry.
Even though you can see right through it now, it was fun to imagine what it was like when the hedges were 10 feet high, and also what an undertaking it must have been to maintain. Remember this is the mid 1780’s, there are no electric trimmers (maybe the hedge trimmer was part of the assassination…). Also realize that with 10 foot high hedges, you’d have to go out the same way you came in!
I also found the maze to be rather therapeutic for me. It’s this path that you choose to follow, you know it’s going to be long and have twists and turns, but you also know that, eventually, you’re going to get to where you’re trying to go.
Here are a few more pictures from the past couple days: