The Lion of Gripsholm Castle – Strängnäs, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

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The Lion of Gripsholm Castle

Gripsholm Castle
Strängnäs, Sweden

This wonky bit of historical taxidermy is experiencing a second life online. 


A case of taxidermy gone terribly wrong and a lion, dead for centuries, once again coming to life online.

The reason the lion now on display at Gripsholm Castle first came to Sweden in the 18th century is a little unclear. When it came to Sweden, the animal was very much alive. Some claim that it was a gift from the “Bey of Algiers” while others claim that there was never any such person. Some sources suggest that it indeed was a gift to the Swedish king, Frederick I. Merely a small token of appreciation for the vast gifts Sweden gave to Algiers to ensure free and safe passage for Swedish ships. Whatever the reason, the lion was one of the first to find its way to Scandinavia and it was placed in the Royal Game Park at Djurgården in Stockholm.

After its death, the remains of the lion were sent to a taxidermist to be stuffed and mounted. The only problem was that a few years had passed since the lion died, and all that was left were a pelt and the bones. The taxidermist, who probably hadn’t seen a live lion but only heraldic lions probably did his best, but the result was far from perfect.

Today the lion has once again come alive but this time online. It has its own Facebook page where it posts updates promoting exhibitions at Gripsholm Castle where it lives, send greetings at holidays and post whatever it might find interesting to an ever-growing fan base around the world.

Know Before You Go

Gripsholm Castle is located in the town Mariefred. There are train connections to Läggesta a few kilometers away. From there you can take a bus (or even the narrow gauge heritage railway a few times every weekend). Mariefred is less than an hour away from Stockholm by train or car.  See the website for entrance prices. 

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