The church of Adolf Fredrik

The church of Adolf Fredrik

In former times there was a wooden chapel on the site now occupied by the Church of Adolf Fredrik. St Olofs' chapel had been built in 1674 on a former burial ground. 
The Church of Adolf Fredrik was designed by the architect Carl Fredrik Adelkrantz and built between 1768 and 1774. It was named after King Adolf Fredrik, who laid the foundation stone.

The church is in the shape of a Greek cross with extended arms to the east and west. It was built in the spirit of neo-classicism with elements of the rococo.

The interior is dominated by the linked pilaster columns supporting a heavy and continuous conrice which extends around the room. The windows are round-arched and the arms of the transept feature relatively shallow tunnel vaults. A dome is suspended above the crossing.

The exterior has remained largely unaltered since the 18th century. The interior, on the other hand, has been subject to a number of changes, chiefly in the 1890s and 1950s. The altar and pulpit, however, survive from the earliest days of the church. 

 The church contains two sculptures by Johan Tobias Sergel, probably the most celebrated artist in Sweden at the time when the church was built. One of the works is the Cartesius Monument, in which Truth, symbolised by a globe, is liberated from the veil of Falsehood. King Gustaf III, who followed the building of the church width great interest, was the initiator of the work.

This monument is in honour of the French philosopher René Descartes (Cartesius) who had been attached to the Swedish court during the reign of Queen Kristina. His body lay buried in the churchyard from 1650 until 1666, when his remains were returned to his native country. The other sculpture by Sergel is the altarpiece, also commissioned by Gustaf III. It depicts Christ rising from the tomb on Easter morning. 

The paintings in the dome date from 1899-1900 and are the work of Julius Kronberg. The font and the sepulchral tablet in memory of the discoverer Sven Hedin are made of Orrefors crystal and designed by Liss Eriksson. The organ was made by the organ builder Grönlund in 1966, yet its original facade has been retained.

Internal restoration of the church took place during 1996-97 under supervision of the architect Uno Söderberg. The work has included cleaning of the church walls and arches, and conservation work on the altarpiece, altar and pulpit. A chapel has been created in the south transept, making it possible to gather small groups together for church services in a more intimate atmosphere.

Two antique chandeliers, which had been removed during an earlier restoration, have been reinstalled along with a number of new gilded chandeliers specially designed by Uno Söderberg. These are intended to provide a glitter similar to that of a living flame through their interplay with the gold which can be seen around the room.

Around 1900 the church had more than 60.000 parishioners. The parish was split into three in 1906, and following extensive office development programmes in former residential areas since the Second World War, this number has been reduced to around 7.000.

Adolf Fredrik church has a rich tradition of music, providing the setting for many musical services and concerts. The church's position in the centre of Stockholm means that many of those who take part in services, musical events and other parish activities do not themselves live in the parish; they either work nearby or travel in from other parts of the city. The Church of Adolf Fredrik has thereby acquired a double function, as both a parish- and a city church.

A large number of people pass through the churchyard each day, either on their way to work or going about their daily lives. Among the many graves both old and new, there are several which usually attract attention. These include the graves of the prime ministers Hjalmar Branting and Olof Palme, and those of the actors Anders de Wahl and Thor Modéen.