Sofiero In Helsingborg, Sweden has been voted Europe’s most beautiful park and is a mecca for garden lovers. The palace is a piece of royal heritage but also hides a sad history. Sofiero in Sweden has been voted Europe’s most beautiful garden.
Here, royal gardening heritage mixes happily with innovative garden design and eco-friendly solutions and is a must for visitors. Located at the Strait of Öresund, on the outskirts of the town Laröd, 5 km (3.1 mi) north of the city center of Helsingborg. The approximately 15-hectare Sofiero castle-park has something for everyone. It was originally a Scanian farm called Skabelycke, bought in 1864 by Prince Oscar of Sweden and his wife Sophia of Nassau.
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Rhododendrons, art and fine dining at Sofiero
At Sofiero you may also enjoy interesting exhibitions, a well-stocked gift shop, a flower & garden shop and an excellent restaurant. From a bridge, boldly spanning the north gully, visitors can admire Europe’s largest collection of rhododendrons, about 10,000 colorful plants in 300 different varieties. blooming in all their glory in early summer. However, the beautiful park and gardens are worth visiting any time of the year. The extensive park was voted the most beautiful park in Europe in 2010.
To celebrate Sofiero’s 150th anniversary in 2016, a large Jubilee garden was inaugurated by King Carl XVI Gustav and Queen Silvia.
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In the summer season there are also exhibitions and events in the castle and park, such as the large garden festival or the Oldtimer meeting Sofiero Classic.
First completed in 1865
The first one-story palace was completed in 1865. Between 1874 and 1876 the castle was expanded to its current size after Prince Oscar had been crowned King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway. Ten years later, in 1905, Oscar II’s grandson Gustaf Adolf, future King Gustaf VI Adolf, and his wife, crown princess Margaret received the palace as a wedding gift. Both were extremely interested in gardening, renovated the palace and started the gardening. In less than fifteen years they had created a stunning park and garden.
A tragedy happens
Then the tragedy happened. By 1920, the couple had five children, the youngest being three, and they were expecting their sixth. The crown princess got a sore throat and was hospitalized in Stockholm. It was before penicillin’s time, and the inflammation spread. Crown Princess Margareta died 38 years old. She left a family in deep sadness.
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A gift to the city of Helsingborg
Prince Gustaf Adolf become king in 1950 and until 1973 Sofiero was his and his second wife Lady Louise Mountbatten’s official summer residence. It was supposedly the King’s favorite place and upon his death, which occurred in Helsingborg, he left Sofiero to the city of Helsingborg so that the general public could enjoy it as much as he had. Many expert gardeners and designers now work at Sofiero to preserve the heritage that Margareta and Gustav Adolf left behind.
The park is open for visitors all year round. However, the castle can only be visited in the summer season from April to September. Sofiero is one of the most visited attractions in Sweden. A bus connection leaves several times an hour during peak hours from Helsingborg.
Europe’s Most Beautiful Garden – in Sweden, written by Tor Kjolberg