Posted by: mdmusingsie | September 25, 2014

Copenhagen Castles (cuid a dó)

The pièce de résistance for a thespian such as myself was Kronborg Castle in Helsingør, or to Hamlet and his band of not so merry men, Elsinore. They perform the play there every summer and have featured such famous actors as Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Sir John Gielgud, Christopher Plummer and more. Truth be told, there is no record of Shakespeare ever having visited Kronborg, but it’s highly likely some of his fellow actors had and brought back accounts of the place.

Shakespeare - 'I never visited but I wrote about it'

Shakespeare – ‘I never visited but I wrote about it’

Sadly, they were out of English language guide books (it may have been end of season, but definitely a missed revenue opportunity for the Danes), but luckily we have the internet to fill the gaps.

You can walk into the complex of Kronborg castle without having to pay an entry fee. Outside the moat they have a representation of how big the entire complex once was.

Kronborg7_sm Kronborg6_sm

Kronborg - Over the moat and through the outer wall

Kronborg – Over the moat and through the outer wall

Kronborg5_sm

Of course I couldn't pass up an opportunity to photo swans and cygnets in the moat at Kronborg

Of course I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to photo swans and cygnets in the moat at Kronborg

Jail cells were located in the outer wall of Kronborg

Jail cells were located in the outer wall of Kronborg

There are several free tours and several more that were extra cost given by people in period costumes. We took the free ones after paying the 80 DKK (~$14) entry fee, which technically gets you the free tours and access to the rooms inside.

Our first tour took us through what they call the casemates or catacombs beneath the fortress. This is where the soldiers would be housed as well as the hide out during sieges. It was abandoned as a fortress once canon could penetrate the 4m (~12 ft) thick outer walls. They would store the grains, salted fish, and other food in these large stone containers.

Kronborg casemates or catacombs

Kronborg casemates or catacombs

Food stores in the casemates/catacombs

Food stores in the casemates/catacombs

The casemates are where you’ll find the “Heavy Dude in Basement” as per the entry sign. Said Dude is actually Holger the Dane, whose story seems to have originated, at least in print, in France. As legend has it, Holger is merely sleeping beneath Kronborg and if Denmark is ever threatened by a foreign enemy the statue will turn to flesh and blood as he rises to defend his people.

Heavy Dude in Basement - aka Holger the Dane

Heavy Dude in Basement – aka Holger the Dane

To see where the ‘other half’ lived, we took the castle tour which gave a brief history. The original fortress dates from the 1400’s but it was rebuilt as a renaissance castle by Frederick II and dubbed (per our guide) the “Party Castle” both Frederick and later Christian IV used to for entertaining. In 1629 there was a great fire that burned everything except the chapel. Christian IV is responsible for the build that we see today.

The Great Hall - Kronborg

The Great Hall – Kronborg

Royal apartments - Kronborg

Royal apartments – Kronborg

Then we headed up 52 circular stairs (much more wide and comfortable to tread than the typical Norman tower) which guests would have to climb to reach the great hall. From there you can wander the royal apartments and view the chapel. We only saw a fraction of the inside, the extra cost tours may take you to other wings.

Tour guide of one of the paid tours

Tour guide of one of the paid tours

Tour guide of one of the paid tour along with my merry band of travel-mates

Tour guide of one of the paid tours along with my merry band of travel-mates

What looks like a bunker as viewed from the castle

What looks like a bunker as viewed from the castle

Organ at Kronborg Chapel

Organ at Kronborg Chapel

Kronborg Chapel

Kronborg Chapel

Royal apartments - Kronborg

Royal apartments – Kronborg

The Great Hall - Kronborg

The Great Hall – Kronborg

Kronborg courtyard

Kronborg courtyard

Kronborg courtyard facing the chapel

Kronborg courtyard facing the chapel

After touring the castle we wandered through town looking for a place to eat. On the way we passed some very Elizabethan/Tudor looking structures as well as a lovely wall mural.

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Tudor/Elizabethan building - just one of several in Helsingor

Tudor/Elizabethan building – just one of several in Helsingor

The Helsingør train station is quite impressive from an architectural perspective.

Helsingor train station

Helsingor train station

"Would you stop staring already?" Statues outside Helsingor train station

“Would you stop staring already?” Statues outside Helsingor train station

But if modern art is more your thing, this “recycle fish” sits on the docks by the ferries – made from materials they’ve ‘fished’ out of the water.

Fish made of recycled material

Fish made of recycled material

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