28 August 2011

Helsingor and Copenhagen, Denmark: Castles and Castles

Grandpa had "See a castle." on his bucket list.  Today, we took care of that.  We hopped on the morning train that ran north from Copenhagen along the coast to the delightful little town of Helsingor.  Because it was relatively early on a Sunday morning, there weren't many people around (as one can see by the deserted street behind us), but we did manage to find an open bakery to get a delicious cinnamon-roll-loaf and coffee for breakfast.

After breakfast, we walked to the castle!  Called Kronborg Slot or Elsinore in Danish, this castle is the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet in fiction and is a heavily fortified military stronghold in reality.  Originally constructed in the fifteenth century, this was a residence of the kings first, a defense against Sweden next, a cash cow because of its location next, and finally a military garrison until it was abandoned in 1991.

After arriving at the castle, we were able to walk out on to the bastions and beaches on the sea side of the castle.  The picture above is from the beach on the outside of the castle, and behind Grandpa and Grandma is the Sound connecting the North and Baltic Seas, and behind that is...Sweden! 

Part of the reason this castle is so historically important is that it is strategically located on the Sound that is the only shipping lane from the North Sea into the Baltic Sea.  Because the cannons of the castle could reach all the way across the Sound (and because the area of Sweden that is visible used to be part of Denmark), the kings of Denmark were able to impose Sound Dues (a toll) on all ships that passed through this waterway.  This made Denmark a rich nation from the early 1600s onward.

After exploring the bastions, beaches, and outbuildings, we went to the inner courtyard of the castle, then inside to see the Royal Apartments, the Chapel, and the underground casements (used to hold soldiers and supplies when the castle was under siege).  It was all very interesting, but we weren't done with castles yet!

We headed back to Copenhagen, and visited Rosenborg Slot, another castle, though this one was built in the late 1600s.  This castle--which was another of the royalty's residences until the mid-1800s--now houses artifacts from the royal family and the Crown Jewels of Denmark.  Beautiful and extravagant, this castle was more of a cross between the old-style castles and the Baroque palaces.  Still, it was nice, and this allowed us to check this item off Grandpa's bucket list...twice!

1 comment:

linda feldt said...

Way to go busy travelers two castles in one day. Sorry we weren't around to skype Sunday but I will for sure be on my computer tomorrow at 4:30pm. Hope we can connect. Love & Prayers mom ps Enjoy your last full day abroad with Katie Grandpa & Grandma