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Helsingør (Elsinore)

History

The Danish king Erik of Pomerania demonstrated excellent business sense in the 1420s, when he built a small fortress, Krogen, at the narrowest part of the Øresund and then charged cargo ships one rose noble (a type of English gold coin) for sailing past. The ‘sound dues’ generated plenty of cash, enabling Frederik II to enlarge Krogen into Kronborg Slot in 1585.

Not long after the workmen had packed up tools, a devastating fire ravaged the castle in 1629, leaving nothing but the outer walls. The tireless builder-king Christian IV rebuilt Kronborg, preserving the castle’s earlier Renaissance style and adding his own Baroque touches; but soon afterwards disaster struck again. During the Danish-Swedish wars, the Swedes occupied Kronborg from 1658 to 1660, looting everything of value including its famous fountain.

Following the Swedish attack, Christian V bulked up Kronborg’s defences, but the Danish royals gave up trying to make the castle a home. The building became a barracks from 1785 until 1924, when it became a museum (the Swedish government sportingly returning some looted items).