Copenhagen's Christiansborg Palace

Europe - Editor - 10 August 2012

Copenhagen's Christiansborg Palace

Located in central Copenhagen on the islet of Slotsholmen, Christiansborg Palace houses all three of Denmark's branches of government – executive, legislative and judicial – being the only country in the world to have all three in one building. Scheduled and guided tours are available for members of the public to view its many architectural and cultural treasures, including the Royal Reception Rooms and the majestic Palace Chapel. But perhaps the most interesting part of Christiansborg Palace, from a historical point of view, is what was found when excavating to lay foundations for the present-day palace.

Workers came across the ruins of several buildings and sections of a curtain wall which turned out to be the ruins of Bishop Absalon's Castle and Copenhagen Castle, some of which dated back to 1167. Due to public interest the ruins were left undisturbed in the inner palace yard and a concrete structure was erected in 1908 to protect the excavations from the elements. Ruins unearthed beneath the palace square in 1917 were also preserved and these sites have been open to the public since 1924.

Built by Bishop Absalon of Roskilde in 1167, the castle complex was the site of many a battle between opposing forces with the city of Copenhagen being ruled by the bishops of Roskilde in the early 1200s before a protracted feud broke out between crown and church. Eventually a coalition of trading cities referred to as the Hanseatic League ordered the destruction of Absalon's Castle. Copenhagen Castle was built upon the ruins of Absalon's castle and was occupied by King Eric VII who usurped the rights to the land and castle from the Bishop of Roskilde. The castle became the center of government and primary residence of the Danish kings.

Due to structural faults and personal whim, the Copenhagen Castle was dismantled and the First Christiansborg Castle built in its place. This structure was ruined by fire in 1794 and rebuilt by 1828, at which time the reigning king Frederick VI decided he would not live there, and the only monarch to live in the palace was King Frederick VII between 1852 and 1863. With the introduction of a constitutional monarchy in 1849 the palace became the center for the first Danish Parliament. Unfortunately this building also burnt down and was rebuilt by 1928 in the Neo-Baroque style seen today.

In addition to the excavated ruins and the various features of the buildings, visitors to Christiansborg Palace today can also view the Show Grounds and stables, as well as the Theater Museum and Royal Stables. The marble bridge and pavilions are other interesting features of this historic landmark in the city of Copenhagen.


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