Kronborg Castle - Denmark

Europe - Editor - 26 May 2011

Kronborg Castle - Denmark

Located on the north-eastern tip of Denmark's Zealand Island, the picturesque town of Helsingør was the setting for William Shakespeare's Hamlet, in which it was referred to as Elsinore. Located in a strategic position near the town, where it controlled and protected the entrance to the Baltic Sea, Kronborg Castle is a superb example of a classic star fortress dating back to 1574. Recognized as one of the most notable of Europe's Renaissance castles, Kronborg Castle was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 2000. Having played an integral role in Northern Europe's history during the 16th to 18th centuries, the castle is of great significance to the people of Denmark.

The site on which the castle stands was initially occupied by the Krogen fortress, which had been built by Danish King, Eric of Pomerania, in the early 15th century. The main purpose of the fortress was to collect payment from ships entering and leaving the Baltic Sea. Krogen fortress was rebuilt by the King of Denmark-Norway, Frederick II, and was renamed Kronborg in 1585. At the time, the castle was unique in both its size and appearance. The castle suffered extensive fire damage in 1629, with repair work undertaken by King Christian IV restoring much of the exterior, although it is said that the interior never did return to its original majestic state.

Although the castle was believed to be impregnable, with its "star" shape making attack from the outside more difficult, it was nevertheless conquered by Swedish invaders under the leadership of Carl Gustaf Wrangel in 1658. This prompted further reinforcements of the castle, including a series of ramparts around it, making Kronborg the strongest fort in Europe at the time. Between 1739 and the early 1900s, the castle was utilized as a prison, with the convicts having the task of further fortifying the castle. Queen Caroline Mathilde, the sister of King George III and Queen of Denmark and Norway from 1766 to 1772, was imprisoned at Kronborg from January to April of 1772.

Today, Kronborg Castle is a cultural and historical treasure in Denmark, and is a very popular tourist attraction. Visitors never fail to be impressed by its sheer magnitude and the view from its ramparts is unsurpassed.


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