Gustav III was strongly influenced by Rousseau and sought a haven to which he could withdraw from the regulated etiquette of the court. He found what he was seeking in the richly varied countryside around Brunnsviken, where steep forested slopes interchanged with idyllic meadows and hay fields. In 1771 the property of Haga, which housed a parson’s residence, was purchased, as was nearby Finntorp.
Gustav III’s Haga (Old Haga) lay on the shores of Brunnsviken and consisted of a small timbered manor building with annexes. The property stretched over what would later become the southern half of Haga Park. By direction of the king, a simple park with tree-lined avenues was built at the beginning of the 1770s. Small pavilions or teahouses were erected on the accompanying islets where we now find the royal interment site.
In 1780, the landscape architect Fredrik Magnus Piper returned from a six-year study trip to England, France and Italy. In England the ideas of the Age of Enlightenment had made early headway and 18th century England was the leader in the art of modern garden design. On arrival home, Piper was commissioned by Gustav III to remodel the gardens of Drottningholm and Haga. This was the start of a transformation of the landscape around Brunnsviken’s western side which would take two decades to complete and would result in one of Europe’s finest English landscape parks.
Several similar landscaped parks, though of lesser dimensions, were established around the bay: Bellevue in the south, Tivoli in the north and Frescati in the east. Both Bellevue and Tivoli were later taken over by Gustav III, and it is probable that the king intended to create a unified park landscape around Brunnsviken. This is further indicated by the typically Italian-sounding names he gave these shore properties – Albano, Bellevue, Frescati and Tivoli.