Ladugårdsgärdet on North Djurgården is Sweden’s oldest military drill field. It had previously been occupied by the former royal estate of Vädla. Troops trained regularly here, and a practice fort was built below the hill of Drottningberget in the 1670s. It was stormed, destroyed and rebuilt many times, as part of military exercises. During the reign of Gustav III it became commonplace for large crowds of Stockholmers to take walks on summer days out to Ladugårdsgärdet to watch the troops train. Every summer from 1773, large practice camps were organised with units from different parts of the country.
The most spectacular drills were those held during Karl XIV Johan’s reign. Up to 10,000 soldiers and officers could be stationed here during the summer exercises. It was at this time that Ladugårdsgärdet was cleared, drained and remodelled as a military training ground, losing its previous hilly and tree-covered character. A pavilion, known as Borgen (the Fort) was erected on the summit of Drottningberget to allow royalty to observe the drills and provide balls and suppers for distinguished guests. The last great ‘battle’ was held in 1867. In the early 20th century, military activities were transferred from this area to Järvafältet. The only ‘real’ military encounter to take place on Ladugårdsgärdet was the Battle of Vädla in 1517 between Danish and Swedish troops, when the Swedes under the regent, Sten Sture the Younger, put the soldiers of the Union king, Kristian II, to flight.