5 Castles in Copenhagen that will Bring You back to Denmark’s Medieval Times
December 10, 2016
Founded in the years 1160-67, Copenhagen is one of Europe’s oldest capitals with an exclusive royal touch. The monarchy in Denmark is the oldest in the world. As the capital of Denmark, Copenhagen is considered a centre of culture and arts, offering visitors abundant sightseeing and entertainment activities. This city has the longest pedestrian street system in the world, and is often labelled as the happiest city in the world. With its cobbled, bike-friendly streets, the attractions and shopping facilities are easily accessible. Since the Danish monarchy can be traced back to centuries ago, it was interesting to visit the castles in Copenhagen and learn about Danish history. Here are 5 castles in Copenhagen that’s worth checking out!
Kronborg was made world-famous after Shakespeare set Hamlet’s plot in this castle back in the 1600s. Till date, no one knows whether or not Shakespeare himself has ever visited the castle. The castle was named “Elsinore” in Hamlet, which has become the English name for Helsingør, the town where you can visit Kronborg. The castle was built in the 1500s and later on, adorned with spires, sandstone and copper roofs, which made it one of the most beautiful castles from the Renaissance period.
During the castle tour, we were shown the 62-metre ballroom, the very well-preserved chapel and the mythological statue of Holger Danske in Kasematterne below the castle. Sailors, merchants, diplomats and aristocrats recounted tales of the majestic castle and court in Elsinore with its pomp, splendour and cannon blasts that resounded to the toasts that The King proposed. However, the castle lost its grandeur when a fire broke out in 1629. Precious furniture, paintings and its copper roof were devoured by the flames and Kronborg was only used as a fortress and barracks for the Danish army.
Today, life has returned to the castle as Kronborg was listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in year 2000. With guided tours conducted daily, live performances of Shakespeare’s greatest plays each summer, and activities during Hamlet’s Shakespeare Festival at Kronborg Castle, the atmosphere of this castle isn’t as mysterious and gloomy as it used to be.
You can even begin this festive season at Kronborg Castle’s Christmas Market. The rooms and halls of the castle will be lined with pop-up stalls selling Christmas decorations, art and crafts, unique design, clothes, toys and small goods. Be wow-ed by the tall Christmas tree in the Ballroom while your children are entertained by a Christmas show and ballet. More information can be found on their website.
Address: Kronborg 2C, DK-3000 Helsingør
Contact: +45 4921 3078
Nov-Dec 2016 11am to 4pm (The castle is closed on Mondays. The castle is closed for the public on 24, 25, 26 and 31 December 2016 and on 1 and 2 of January 2017.)
Jan-Mar 2017 11am to 4pm (The castle is closed on Mondays.)
Apr-May 2017 11am to 4pm
Jun-Sep 2017 10am to 5.30pm
Oct 2017 11am to 4pm
Adult 90 DKK ($18.29 SGD)
Student 80 DKK ($16.26 SGD)
Child (4-17 years old) 45 DKK ($9.15 SGD)
Group (min. 10 guests) 80 DKK ($16.26 SGD) per pax but no participation in the castle’s guided tour options
Please check their website for the most updated ticket pricing.
Built as a hunting seat for King Frederik IV, construction for this Baroque-style palace began in 1719. The main building was first used in 1722 and the chapel in 1726. Fredensborg Palace is often used to host significant events in the life of the Danish Royal Family. Weddings, anniversaries and birthdays are celebrated here and The Queen receives heads of state from all over the world during official visits here. This is also where ambassadors from foreign countries present their credentials to The Queen. During state visits, there is a tradition of having the visiting head of state scratch his or her name on the glass window pane with a diamond.
The Palace Gardens are among the largest historical gardens in the country. Most of the sculptures in the garden are by the great Nordic neo-classical sculptor, J. Wiedewelt. In the “Valley of the Norsemen”, there are 68 sandstone figures of Norwegian and Faroese farmers and fishermen. These figures were originally carved by the sculptor J.G. Grund. They were re-carved at the end of the 1900s from original casts. The part of the garden nearest to the palace – the Reserved Garden – is the Royal Family’s private area. An orangery was built adjacent to the Palace kitchen garden in 1995 and serves as storage for tender plants in the winter, and flowers are grown here to decorate the various palaces.
Address: Fredensborg Slot, Slottet 1B, 3480 Fredensborg
Opening Hours: The Palace Gardens, The Baroque Gardens and The Valley of the Norsemen are open all year around. The Private Garden opens from 1 July to 6 August from 9am to 5pm daily. Guided tours of the Palace, the Orangery, the herb garden and chapel are available from 1 July to 6 August. Larger groups can book guided tours from 10 am to 12 pm during the same period.
90 DKK ($18.29 SGD) per adult
40 DKK ($8.13 SGD) per child between 6 to 17 years old
Built in the first decades of the 17th century by King Christian IV, Frederiksborg Castle incorporates the finest Renaissance architecture and craftsmanship. Due to its grand palace gardens, this castle is often referred to as the Nordic Versailles. Since 1878, Frederiksborg Castle has housed the Museum of National History. Travel back in time stepping into the rooms as you learn about 500 years of Danish history. In addition to magnificent rooms such as the Chapel, the Rose, the Audience Chamber and the Great Hall, the museum contains Denmark’s most important collection of portraits and history paintings, as well as, distinguished examples of decorative art.
Address: Frederiksborg Slot, DK-3400 Hillerød
Contact: +45 4826 0439
Opening Hours: The museum is open daily.
1 Apr – 31 Oct 10am to 5pm
1 Nov – 31 Mar 11am to 3pm
75 DKK ($15.24 SGD) per adult
60 DKK ($12.19 SGD) per student, per senior citizen or per pax for groups with a minimum of 10 persons
20 DKK ($4.06 SGD) per child between 6 to 15 years old
150 DKK ($30.48 SGD) for family ticket which includes 2 adults and 3 children
300 DKK ($60.97 SGD) Annual Pass
This 400-year-old Renaissance castle traced its humble beginnings back to the days of being just a small summer palace. Within a span of 28 years, it went through four stages of development and was finally completed in 1633. This castle was a favourite of King Christian IV to the extent that on his deathbed at Frederiksborg, he commanded that he be transported by sleigh to Rosenborg in order to end his days there and eventually, passed on in his bed chamber.
Rosenborg was used as a royal residence until around 1710, when Christian IV’s great-grandchild, Frederik IV, gave it up in favour of other, more up-to-date summer residences. So, he had the palace made into the home of the royal collections, which is what we see during our visit to Rosenborg nowadays.
The crowns of the Danish Kings and Queens are kept in special vaults and are embellished with table-cut stones, enamel and gold ornamentation. There are a total of four sets of Crown Jewels – a diamond set, a ruby set, a pearl set, and an emerald set – all given their current form by Christian VIII’s Queen, Caroline Amalie, who had them redesigned in the 1840s, though many of the stones are much older. The Crown Jewels may only be used by the Queen and only within the country’s borders, and are typically used a couple of times a year such as the New Year Reception, during state visits, special family events, and similar occasions. Rosenborg also houses an exquisite collection of Flora Danica and one of the world’s finest Venetian glass collections.
This Christmas, treat yourself to mulled wine and æbleskiver, a traditional Danish Christmas pastry that many describe as “pancake-ball”, at the Garden Cafe just beside the castle. For the price of 150 DKK ($30.48 SGD), you can indulge in these Christmas treats and get access to the castle. The offer last until New Year’s.
Address: Øster Voldgade 4A, 1350 Copenhagen K
Contact: +45 3315 3286
2 Jan – 15 Apr 10am to 2pm (Closed on Mondays)
11 Feb – 26 Feb (Winter Holiday) 10am to 3pm daily
11 Apr – 17 Apr (Easter Holiday) 10am to 4pm daily
16 Apr – 15 Jun 10am to 4pm (Closed on 24 Apr)
16 Jun – 31 Aug 9am to 5pm
1 Sep – 31 Oct 10am to 4pm
1 Nov – 22 Dec 10am to 2pm (Closed on Mondays)
27 Dec – 30 Dec 10am to 4pm
Closed during Christmas period between 23 to 26 December, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
105 DKK ($21.34 SGD) per adult
70 DKK ($14.23 SGD) per student
80 DKK ($16.26 SGD) per person for groups, with a minimum number of 12 participants
Free admission for children between 6 to 17 years old
Do you know that Christiansborg Palace is built on the ruins of an 800-year-old castle? The largest and oldest ruin under the palace is the curtain wall from Bishop Absalon’s 12th century castle. The curtain wall protected the castle from Wendish pirates that attacked Copenhagen from the South. Absalon put their severed heads on stakes outside the castle walls to inspire fear and serve as a warning to the pirates. No one lives there anymore after two major fires broke out and the palace had to be rebuilt and now, Christiansborg Palace contains the Danish Parliament Folketinget, the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of State.
Parts of the palace are used by the Royal Family for various functions and events. The Royal Reception Rooms include The Tower Room and The Oval Throne Room where foreign ambassadors to Denmark are received by the Queen. The Throne Room gives access to the balcony where the Danish monarchs are proclaimed. When there are banquets at the palace, members of the Royal Family welcome the guests in the Velvet Room.
Besides touring around many different rooms, you should also check out the Royal Stables where horses have been living in since 1740. When Her Majesty the Queen holds New Year levees and other banquets at Christiansborg Palace, the beautiful white horses are hitched to the coach in splendid gala harness ready to convey their royal passenger. The stable’s finest vehicle is the Golden State Coach. It was built in 1840 and is coated with 24-carat gold leaf. The oldest coach in the stables is Queen Dowager Juliane Marie’s state coach which dates from 1778.
My favourite part of Christiansborg Palace is the Tårnet. At a height of 44 metres, t’s the highest tower in Copenhagen where you get panoramic views of the city and its streets. In addition to enjoying the view, you can go on a gastronomical experience at Restaurant Tårnet, which is run by the recognised restaurateur, Rasmus Bo Bojesen. A visit to the tower is free of charge and it is open every day (except Mondays). More information can be found at taarnet.dk/info.
Address: Prins Jørgens Gård, 1468 Copenhagen K
Contact: +45 3392 6492
Please refer to the website for opening hours and ticket pricing as there are many rooms to visit at Christiansborg Palace and you can select the option your desire.
Christmas is approaching and I’m pretty sure most of you have already planned your festive celebrations. If you have no idea what to do, why not check out the Christmas events happening at some of the castles that I’ve mentioned above? Copenhagen really left me with very fond memories and it’s very interesting for me, an Asian, to learn about their culture and historical backgrounds.