Kronborg Slot

Kronborg Slot information

Helsingør (Elsinore) , Denmark
Address
Street Kronborgvej
More information
www.kronborg.dk
Prices
Royal Apartments, Casements & Chapel, Maritime Museum & Telegraph Tower adult/6-17yr 75/30kr
Opening hours
10.30am-5pm Jun-Aug, 11am-4pm Apr-May & Sep-Oct, reduced hrs rest of year
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Lonely Planet review

<p> The monstrous military bulk of Kronborg Slot is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and top of the town’s sightseeing list. Despite the attention it has received as the setting of <em>Hamlet,</em> the castle’s real function was far less romantic – it acted as a formidable tollhouse. Imagine sitting in the Øresund with the cannons of Kronborg aimed squarely at your creaking ship, and you can understand how wonderfully effective the castle was in its tax-gathering purpose.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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).</p><p>Although it costs to enter the interior, you can cross several swan-filled moats and walk into the dramatic courtyard free of charge, or make a circumnavigation of the castle’s mighty sea barriers (open daily until sunset), a good picnic spot.</p><heading><em>Royal Apartments</em></heading><p>The Royal Apartments are rather empty today: the king’s and queen’s chambers, for example, have little in them but marble fireplaces, a few sticks of furniture, and some lavish ceiling paintings, although occasional modern-art exhibitions add an interesting dimension.</p><p>The most impressive room is the ballroom, the longest in Scandinavia when it was built in 1585. Banquets held here consisted of 65 courses, and each guest was given their own vomiting bucket. Seven of the tapestries that originally adorned the walls – in excellent condition, and with interesting explanations alongside – can be seen in the adjoining Little Hall.</p><heading><em>Casements &amp; Chapel</em></heading><p>The chilly, low-ceilinged dungeon, which also served as storerooms and soldiers’ quarters, stretches underneath a surprisingly large area of the castle. It’s suitably dark and creepy, although you’ll make better sense of its empty rooms if you read up on barracks life before heading downwards. Delights include nesting bats, and a statue of the Viking chief <strong>Holger Danske</strong> (Ogier the Dane), who, legend says, will wake and come to Denmark’s aid in its hour of need.</p><p>The galleried chapel was the only part of Kronborg that escaped the flames in 1629, and gives a good impression of the castle’s original appearance. Highlights include the gilt-covered altar and freakish faces decorating the pews.</p>