On 20 October 1810, Napoleon’s Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte landed in Helsingborg on Sweden’s south west coast. The Frenchman became King of Sweden and since then the Bernadotte family have sat on the throne.
When he became king, the former soldier assumed a new name. As Karl XIV Johan, he ruled the country with a firm hand, but also laid the foundation for a long period of peace which Sweden has enjoyed ever since.
Over the years the Swedish royals often returned to Helsingborg and especially to Sofiero castle, which became a favourite summer residence.
The magnificent rhododendron park around the castle was planted by Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf and his English wife, Margaret. They received the castle as a wedding present in 1905 and immediately began work on the castle garden.
– The first rhododendron plant comes from Margaret's home in Surrey. It is a giant tree now. Margaret passed away early, but her husband continued to develop the garden and gathered new rhododendron varieties from all over Europe, says Nina Wenedikter, guide at Sofiero.
King Gustaf VI Adolf continued to spend his summers in Helsingborg, and when he died he bequeathed the property to the municipality. Today, Sofiero is open to the public and the castle is used for catering and exhibitions. Many people visit Sofiero just to see the park that was named Europe’s Most Beautiful in 2010. The best time to visit is in May when 10,000 rhododendrons are in bloom.
Today the royal family performs a symbolic function in Sweden. The State is a constitutional monarchy, giving power to the people. Political decisions are taken democratically.
For more information:
Tourism in Skåne
Sara Brynskog, PR manager
Phone: + 46(0)40-6753496