Frisens Park – restoring a historic park

Frisens Park at Royal Djurgården are being restored by Royal Djurgården Administration, archaelogists and landccape architects. The knowledge about the park’s design is based on a map drawn up in 1777.

Film about the park project

Frisens Park is one of Southern Djurgården’s best-kept secrets. Located next to Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde, this elevated 18th-century park is surrounded by the landscape of Southern Djurgården.

Frisens Park was built on the principle of beautifying nature. The dramatic topography of the site – with its views of the sea approach to Stockholm and the surrounding Djurgården landscape with its ancient oaks – made it the perfect location for an English landscape park. Our knowledge about the park’s design is based on a map drawn up in 1777. This detailed map largely corresponds to what the park looked like in reality.

Historical source material

Taking the historical source material as its starting point, the Royal Djurgården Administration began a project to restore the park in 2021. An initial horticultural archaeological survey was carried out in the southern part of the park, generally confirming the description from the 1777 map. The filled-in pond was then carefully dug out, and the older paths were located through excavations.

Well preserved park

The horticultural archaeological survey confirmed that Frisens Park, one of Sweden’s earliest English parks, is extremely well preserved and many of the historical elements are still visible today. This new knowledge formed the basis for a restoration proposal that was drawn up in close cooperation between the Royal Djurgården Administration, archaeologists and landscape architects.

Pond and bridge rebuilts

The first stage in the historic park’s recreation will involve restoring the pond’s partly demolished walls during 2024. Carl Magnus Fris’s wooden bridge will also be rebuilt. The work in Frisens Park aims to highlight and reproduce the park’s natural and cultural value, while also increasing the area’s biodiversity.

The project to restore the park began in 2021. See the film about the project (subtitles in English), click on the image start.


Our knowledge about the park’s design is based on a map drawn up in 1777 (click to enlarge the image). Archaeologists, architectural historians, landscape architects, park managers and gardeners are involved in the project. Photo: Lantmäteriet

The filled-in pond have been carefully dug out, and the wooden bridge will be rebuilt. The image shows a water color painting of the park by C.F. Akrell. Source: Bolin et al, Djurgården the and now, 1925

Frisens Park, 1868 by Frans Vilhelm Laurin. Photo: Stockholmskällan

English landscape style

The English landscape style was introduced to Sweden in the mid-18th century. The style can be described as a reaction against the strict park ideals of the Baroque. An English park strove to achieve natural forms, and common elements included winding paths, lawns and far-reaching views of the surrounding landscape. Although the English landscape parks attempted to mimic nature, they were meticulously planned. Reflecting water was one important feature, and ornamental ponds were therefore often built with shapes mimicking natural watercourses. These reflecting ponds would be partly hidden so that they would not be seen immediately in their entirety, and the water would ideally be moving.

Frisens park history

A number of elegant summer palaces were built along the shoreline of Southern Djurgården during the latter part of the 18th century. The beauty of the landscape, its proximity to the city and the presence of royalty attracted both aristocrats and wealthy merchants, who enhanced the area with lavish parks and gardens – including Frisens Park.

Isak Kierman 1759
The bookkeeper Isak Kierman purchased the former hunting lodge, then known as Biskopsjakten, in 1759. Kierman renamed the property Bergsjölund, and built a main building with symmetrically grouped pavilions and floral terraces, with views of the sea approach to Stockholm. North of the farm buildings, which have since disappeared, a 10 hectare English park was laid out. The early park had a simple design with tree-lined paths leading from the main building out into the park, and onwards to seating areas with beautiful views.

The Sprengtporten brothers 1775
Between 1775 and 1792, the property was owned by the brothers Johan Wilhelm and Jakob Magnus Sprengtporten. The Sprengtporten brothers spent large sums of money developing the park, which was also expanded by around 4 hectares. During this period, many new paths were added to create new routes and sight lines. In the central section of the park, an avenue ended at a viewpoint. Between this and the farm buildings, a pond and a parterre were constructed. The pond had a gently undulating shape and paved edges, and was an important feature of the park’s design. A beautiful concave lawn was also laid out in the park.

Carl Magnus Fris 1792
Bergsjölund was bought by the merchant Carl Magnus Fris in 1792, and the park was named after him. The property was further expanded to include the neighbouring Waldemarsudde. Fris also spent large sums of money on developing and enhancing the park, and it was deemed to be the most beautiful park on Djurgården. Fris had a simple arched wooden bridge built over the pond.

Royal Djurgården Administration 1838
In 1838, the Royal Djurgården Administration took over the park’s management. The park became a very popular destination for the people of Stockholm, and it remained a fashionable public park well into the 19th century. Over time, the estate’s older buildings from Kierman’s time fell into disrepair and were demolished. The pond, which was once such an important feature of the park, seems not to have been maintained. During the first half of the 19th century, the pond was filled in and was forgotten about. Frisens Park fell out of popularity during the 20th century, being described as early as 1925 as having “empty, deserted old avenues, where only a few loyal Djurgården aficionados can find their way” (from Djurgården then and now by Bolin et al., 1925).

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