On the west side of the Church of Hedvig Eleonora there are two burial chambers located. These extensions of the church were originally intended be two towers. fortunately this plan was changed during construction. I believe this was a very good decision because, IMO, two towers would probably not harmonise with the rest of the church but these beautiful burial chambers do! I made a brief summery of the history behind the Church of Hedvig Eleonora. You can read it below the HDR-picture of one of the burial chambers.
Today Östermalm is a fashionable district of Stockholm with wealthy inhabitants and the highest housing prices in Sweden. But it hasn’t always been like this in the 1600’s this was the place where mostly poor people lived. The district, then called Ladugårdsgärdet, was also the home of the Admiralty. While the mariners had their own church at Kyrkholmen, the present Blasieholmen, the civilians at had to walk across the water to the Church of Saint Jacob for their religious services. As you can understand the need for a bigger church at Ladugårdsgärdet was great and in 1664 it was decided to build one. Kyrkholmen was too small to accommodate a larger church so the Admralty’s graveyard at Ladugårdsgärdet was the chosen location for the new church which was to be named after the dowager queen Hedvig Eleonora.
Jean de la Vallée, who also built the Church of Catherine at Södermalm, designed the octagonal church with the pulpit and the altar placed in the middle. This was a unique church design for in Sweden at this time. Jean de la Vallée might have got his inspiration from oriental octagonal shaped churches but this is pure speculation. The building of the church started in 1669 but was stopped six years later due to lack of funds. A provisional church made of wood was built in the same graveyard which provided religious services for the inhabitants at Ladugårdsgärdet.
After 50 years of decay the building of Hedvig Eleonora’s church was resumed under the guidence of Göran Josuae Adelcrantz. Jean de la Vallée’s original exterior design was mainly retained but the interior was changed and got a more traditional look with the altar and pulpit placed in the east end of the church. Then the Church of Hedvig Eleonora was consecrated in 1737 the roof was still not completed. Instead it was provisionally covered with boards. In 1755 the building of two towers were started on the west end of the church. However these two towers, designed by Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz, never were completed. Instead they were made into two burial chambers in 1792. The building of a cupola, as a replacement for the provisional roof, was started in 1865. The cupola, designed by Fredrik Wilhelm Scho¬landers, significantly differs from Jean de la Vallée’s original design. The cupola was completed in 1868 and the exterior look of Hedvig Eleonora hasn’t been changed since then. However the interior of the church has been modified twice in two major renovations, 1892 and 1944. Tomorrow we take a look inside Hedvig Eleonora and we’ll see if you agree with me that this is one of Stockholm’s most beautiful churches.
Source: Hedvig Eleonora kyrka by Elisabet Jermsten, 2005