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History of the Örebro Castle

The mid-13th century is believed to be the date of constructing the castle, despite the fact that detailed data on the origin of the castle did not remain. According to the historical records of a local bishop dated from the 18th century, the castle was built at the request of famous Jarl Birger, Sweden's ruler and founder of Stockholm. In that time this building was rather a small defensive structure on the island surrounded by the Svartån River. Furthermore, it contained a massive watchtower. A seven-metre-high wall was erected around it, forming a pentagonal inner courtyard. Like any other medieval castle, the Örebro Castle was originally built as a defensive building, especially because several important routes met in that town: trade routes to Dalarna, former pilgrimage routes to Norway, as well as Eriksgat's route which, according to tradition, was covered by newly-elected Swedish rulers to familiarise themselves with their lands.

A significant extension of the Örebro Castle took place after a century, in the era of the reign of King Magnus Eriksson, who not only improved the old stronghold but also built new three-storey residential facilities – the north and south wings. In 1364 the Örebro Castle was captured by Albert of Mecklenburg. Supported by German princes, he took power in Sweden. In 1434 the castle was transferred to Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson, who was the famous leader of a powerful national uprising against Danes. It was the Örebro Castle from where seriously ill Engelbrekt set off for his last journey in 1436. After his death, his body was buried in local St. Nicholas’ Church.

By the end of the 15th century Jones Falster, Danish court supervisor, lived behind the castle walls. He was known for severe and cruel attitude to Swedes. In 1501 the building was besieged by an army of rebels against Danish King Gance, and in February 1502 Svante Nilsson Sture, future Swedish regent, took the castle. In 1520 the fortress again, although not for long, was owned by Danish rulers. However, in 1521 during an uprising against Danish King Christian II, the castle was besieged and taken by the army of Gustav Vasa, the future King of Sweden and the founder of an influential dynasty.

In 1522 at the request of Gustav Vasa the rebuilding of the castle started since it experienced many sieges and battles. Behind its walls, King Gustav I arranged various meetings whose results were very important for the Swedish state. In 1529 a Synod meeting was held in the castle during which the king abolished the vow of being unmarried – celibacy, and in 1540 Gustav I Vasa adopted a law on hereditary monarchy. After the death of the king, the castle was transferred to his son, Prince Charles (future King Charles IX), who started a comprehensive reconstruction of his property. The severe medieval fortress changed its appearance over several decades and, as a result, was transformed into a more luxury building in the Renaissance style.

During the reign of King Charles IX, not only the monarch with his court lived behind the castle walls, but also the sessions of Riksdag were held there. Due to this fact, during the reconstruction of the fortress its defence elements were maintained. A wooden drawbridge led from land to the castle surrounded by a river. In 1611 a ceremony of the coronation of Gustav II Adolf took place in the Örebro Castle. The last rebuilding of the stronghold was not finished until 1625, during the reign of the widow of King Charles IX, Queen Christina. However, until then the castle completely lost its strategic significance and the royal family preferred other, slightly more modern residences.

Without the proper maintenance, the castle quickly deteriorated, and as early as at the beginning of 1700 one of the towers collapsed. In that period the building was used as a prison, turning the basement of the main tower into a dungeon. The renovation started in 1758, when architect Carl Johan Cronstedt set about the renovation works, using the sketches of court architect Carl Hårleman. As a result, the Örebro Castle obtained a new facade in the Neo-classicist style and, furthermore, government institutions and governor's residence were housed in the renovated building. In that period the towers were crowned with round domes, which were changed into flat roofs, and the defensive wall was knocked down since it was not useful any more. The space that left was filled with terraces.

In 1810 behind the castle walls a ceremony of giving the royal insignia by former King Charles XIII to Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, a ruler elected by the Swedish parliament, was held. Since 1856 the castle had been a place where most collection of the Örebro Geographical Museum was kept. The museum was located there until 1963. By the end of the 19th century another major reconstruction of the building started. It was funded by social money collected by those who wanted the fortress to regain its former Renaissance appearance. From 1897 to 1901 Thor Thorén was responsible for the reconstruction of the building. He was fascinated by the Gripsholm Castle and the Castle of Vadstena. In the 20th century renovation works were carried out behind the walls of the Örebro stronghold more than once in fact, but they did not affect its appearance.