Kronborg & Helsingør

I had a few more things I wanted to do in Copenhagen, but I didn’t think I’d have enough things to fill another day and a half.  And since I hadn’t really read about anything to do outside of the city I headed down to the tourist office to see what’s what.

They ended up advising that I take the hour long train to Kronborg, and spend the morning at the renaissance castle and fortress.  So that’s what I did, and it was one of the highlights of my trip.

As noted above, Kronberg is a castle and fortress, originally built in the 1420s.  Much of the castle was burned down by the fire of 1629, but some of the original architecture still exists. It’s famous, however, because it’s the castle Shakespeare set Hamlet in. I later learnt that Hamlet is an old Danish tale, written in the 1200s which became popular in the 1500s due to its translation.  However Shakespeare’s version is the most famous, as it’s not about the actions but about Hamlet’s thoughts.  And that’s why it’s still around today.

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You enter the grounds through Morkeport (Dark Gate), which takes you on a winding path the courtyard and castle entrance.

I had perfect timing to join a tour of the castle, so in I went. They had so many beautiful tapestries (44 to be exact), but unfortunately none turned out in pictures.  Guess you’ll have to see it for yourself. The room below is the Ballroom/Queen’s Gallery.  It was the largest royal hall in Northern Europe.

I spent a lot of time in the Castle Yard, just in awe.  Another fun fact, Hamlet is performed in this yard quite often.  The regional theatre invites tropes from Denmark and abroad to stage their interpretations of Hamlet.  It is also very likely that Shakespeare himself performed here, and gained access to how things are run.

Next up was the Royal Chapel, which unlike most of the castle, was not damaged by the fire of 1629.

The casemates, the castle’s underground corridors and rooms, are also open for viewing. These quarters held Kronberg’s prison, storeroom, and quarters for soldiers during times of war. Now I’m not sure why he’s in the basement, but in the casemates you will find a statue of Holger the Dane, Denmark’s legendary hero.  The story goes that he sits slumbering, ready to be stirred into action the instant the Danish kingdom is threatened by an enemy.

Every time I thought I had seen all this area had to offer I found more to discover.  The Danish Maritime Museum has been housed at Kronborg Castle since 1915, and depicts the history of Danish shipping from the Renaissance to the present. My favourite part was the display of past figureheads.

From the museum I climbed up a lot of stairs and ended up on the Telegraph Tower, an immense flat-roofers tower that previously functions as a cannon tower.  It was originally the castle’s largest tower,  boasting dome and spire but was destroyed by the Swedish bombardment in 1658.  From 1801, the new flat roof was used for sending signals to Copenhagen, and offers impressive views.

Before leaving I took one more walk around the edge of the grounds.

Then decided to explore the nearby town of Helsingør, before catching the train back to Copenhagen.  It was a brilliant way to spend a morning, and it was also nice to get out of the city for a few hours.

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