Near the town of Helsingør which was made famous as Elsinore in Shakespeare’s Hamlet lays one of the most amazing Renaissance castles in Northern Europe, Kronborg Castle. Construction of Kronborg, under orders from Frederick II, was completed around 1585 featuring a beautiful Renaissance design with towers and a spire. Kronborg didn’t last very long, as most of the castle burned down in 1629 during a fire that ravaged the castle leaving only the chapel to survive. It was rebuilt by Frederick II’s son, Christian IV, and while the exterior was restored to its original splendor the interior was not as lucky and never quite regained its former beauty. Each year this widely popular Danish landmark is visited by over 200,000 people from all around the world. In 2000, Kronborg Castle was inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage list thanks to its amazing architecture, significant role in regional history, as well as the fact that it is the setting of Shakespeare’s world renowned Hamlet.
Although the current castle did not exist until 1585 the area has been home to a fortification since at least the 1420s when the original fort named Krogen stood. It was used by the king’s men to control shipping in the sound and collect unpopular usage taxes. In 1658 the castle was shelled and taken by the Swedes, who looted many valuable art treasures including an amazing ornamental fountain from Frederik II’s time. Over the years work was done to increase the outer fortifications and in 1690 Christian V built the Crownwork, an advanced defense against land attacks. Kronborg Castle was used as a prison from 1739 into the 1900s with inmates being guarded by soldiers housed in the castle. One of the most well known prisoners to stay at Kronborg was Queen Caroline Mathilde, sister of King George III of England. During this time the castle was no longer used much by the royal family and in 1785 it was converted into a barracks by the army who took over complete administration of the building until 1922. A number of rooms in the castle were rebuilt during the army’s control of the structure but after the army left in 1923 it was thoroughly renovated and restored to the days of Frederik II and Christian IV.
Kronborg Castle is open all year round except December 24 & 25. From January 1 to April 30 it is open from Tuesday through Sunday. From May 1 through September 30 the castle is open from Monday through Sunday and from October 1 through December 31 it opens from Tuesday through Sunday. Guided tours in English are available for individual guests for free with a valid ticket. There are a variety of admission tickets available, prices for adults range from about $5.50 to $16.50 depending on what parts of the castle you wish to visit, children 15-18 range from free to $12.00, and children 6-14 range from free to $5.50. Be sure to check out the King’s Tapestries on display to the public during Kronborg’s hours of operation. The tapestry collection contains seven of the remaining fourteen tapestries that were commissioned by Frederik II, the other seven are on display at the National Museum in Copenhagen.