History of the Castle
Läckö Castle is a magnificent baroque palace standing on a rocky peninsula in Lake Vänern, but parts of the building are much older. In 1298 Brynolf Algotsson, the Bishop of Skara, laid the foundations for a fortified castle here. Probably no more than a mound surrounding a few simple houses, nevertheless strategically located in the middle of his diocese. Pilgrims on their way to Nidaros (today Trondheim), found the castle to be a convenient stop. After a fire in the 1470s, the castle was expanded by Bishop Brynolf Gerlachsson.
After the reformation in 1527, Läckö ceased to be a bishop’s castle, reverting instead to the crown. King Gustav Vasa took over and, according to written sources, is said to have visited the castle twice. For a while, Läckö was poorly maintained, until Vasa’s brother-in-law, Svante Sture, took possesion, repairing and improving the property.
Svante Sture was followed by Hogenskild Bielke, married to Sture’s daughter Anna. Bielke was appointed baron and granted Läckö Castle as his barony in 1571. His accounts and letters describe all tasks and inventories at the castle. Tradition has it that he was the one who ordered the still extant painting in a couple of the rooms. The couple was also known for having owned one of the largest libraries of that period. After various problems and imprisonment at Gripsholm Castle, Hogenskild Bielke was senteced to death and executed in Stockholm in 1605.
Läckö Castle was forgotten for a time, and not until it was granted to Field Marshal Jacob De la Gardie in 1615 for services to the nation, did the castle regain its former significance. Count De la Gardie embarked on an extensive building spree, including the third floor of the keep. The portal to the main courtyard was added during this period, as were the frescos depicting people and winding plants found in niches, stairwells and the rooms on the third floor. Master Gulik and his disciples were hired for this decoration, and several churches in the area have been decorated by the same master.
Jacob’s son Magnus Gabriel was only 30 when he took over the title and estates. During his lifetime, Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie held several of the country’s highest offices, including being Chancellor, the most important office one could have. Queen Kristina gave him many titles and privileges, but in the end he fell into disfavor and was banished from the court.
Magnus Gabriel and his wife Maria Eufrosyne owned over 1 000 taxable farms in Sweden and the Baltic provinces. In 1654 Magnus Gabriel initiated immence construction works at Läckö, including new rooms and housing for the staff in the gatehouse and the kitchen wing. A fourth floor was added to the main castle and a number of artists decorated walls and ceilings. He also build the beautiful castle chaple.
It is largely Count Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie’s castle we experience today when we visit Läckö, even though the Middle Ages are always present.
Today, the castle is owned by the Swedish state and managed by the. National Property Board Sweden (SFV).