Touted the world’s most liveable city in 2013, it’s no wonder then that Danish royalty constructed so many residences in an around Copenhagen. Denmark’s capital city boasts an enviably high standard of living with its supremely efficient public transport system, city planning to suit the needs of cyclists and pedestrians, abundance of open spaces and strict adherence to environmental policies. Copenhagen’s city life is widely described as “enjoyable” for all residents and centred around community, culture and cuisine. Besides, with a plethora of strikingly beautiful castles, palaces and royal residences, Copenhagen offers every visitor the opportunity to get a glimpse of what Scandinavian kings and queens called home.
Although, the Danish capital’s streets are flooded with examples of some of the finest modern architecture on offer today, the same city allows you to travel back in time with its magnificent castles and palaces, steeped in Scandinavian history. The AmalienborgPalace, The Rosenborg Castle and the ChristiansborgPalace are all stunning specimens of Danish architecture that you must feast your eyes on while you are in Copenhagen.
The Amalienborg Palace
The AmalienborgPalace is what the Danish royal family call home in the winter. Four indistinguishable palace porticos adorned with rococo interiors are placed around a courtyard to form an octagon. The founder of the palace, King Frederick V is immortalized by French sculptor Jacques Francois-Joseph Saly in a huge equestrian statue in the centre of the courtyard. Originally built for four noble families, the royal family moved into this palace following the burning down of the ChristiansborgPalace in 1794.
The four palaces namely Christian VII’s Palace (Moltke’s Palace), Christian VIII’s Palace (LevetzauPalace), Frederick VIII’s Palace (Brockdorff’s Palace) and Christian IX’s Palace (Schack’s Palace) are identical externally, but the interior differs. You can spend some time visiting the palaces of Christian VII and Christian VIII, which are open to the public in from November to April, from Tuesday to Sunday between 11 am and 4 pm and daily from May to October between 11 am and 4 pm. There is an admission fee of DKK65 for adults and DKK40 for students. Entry is free for minors 17 years and under. Be sure to catch the “Vagtparade” or the changing of the royal guard sharp at noon, everyday come rain or shine.
The Rosenborg Castle
Built in the Dutch Renaissance style, this architectural masterpiece is reminiscent of the 17th century. One of Christian IV’s many architectural commissions, the king charged architects Bertel Lange and Hans van Steenwinckel the Younger with the responsibility of the structural planning of the castle. Originally built as a country summerhouse, the Rosenborg castle was a royal residence until 1710. Post the reign of Frederick IV, it was used as a royal residence only during the emergencies of the burning of the first Christiansborg Palace in 1794 and the British attack on Copenhagen in 1801.
Visit the Long Hall on the third floor fitted with 17th century silver furniture. Originally built in 1624 to be a ballroom, it was later used as a banquet hall and still later it was called the “Knight’s Hall”. There are twelve tapestries portraying Christian V’s royal triumphs in the Scanian War. Look up to the stucco ceiling from the 18th century to see the Danish Coat of Arms enveloped by the Orders of the Elephant and of Dannebrog. There are many more indicators of Copenhagen’s rich past as a kingdom in the frescoes and the side reliefs. Don’t miss out on seeing the coronation chair of the absolutist kings and the throne of the queens adorned by a triad of silver lions.
The castle is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 am to 2 pm from January to April, daily between 10 am and 4 pm in May and daily between 10 am to 5 pm between June to August. There is an admission fee of 90 DKK for adults, 60 DKK for students and the entry is free for those under 18 years of age. Public tours are undertaken. There is also a museum containing royal collections and historical artifacts of Danish culture spanning centuries. Don’t miss the exhibition of the Crown jewels, the Danish Crown Regalia, a Coronation Carpet, the Throne Chair of Denmark and the beautiful flower garden outside the palace.
The Christiansborg Palace
It was third time lucky for this iconic neo –baroque style palace as its predecessors fell victims to bad fate. The first castle to be built on this site, the Bishop Absalon’s castle was demolished by 40 stonemasons from the Hanseatic League. Next came the Copenhagen castle born from its predecessors ashes. After rebuilding it several times, this castle too was demolished to make way for the first Christiansborg Palace which was ruined in a fire in 1794. The Second Christiansborg Palace that followed it too succumbed to flames in 1884.
Today, the youngest descendent, the third Christiansborg Palace stands tall in concrete and granite as the seat of the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Danish Supreme Court. Designed by Thorvald Jorgensen to house the Danish royal family, the legislature and the judiciary, the talented architect created this masterpiece using a unique mix of ruins and original elements.
The Parliament lies in the southern wing while the Royal Reception Rooms, the Supreme Court and the Prime Minister’s Office lie in the northern wing. The Royal Reception Rooms are used for banquets and functions and are adorned with art and furniture from the ruins of the older palaces. The Throne Room, the Great Hall and the Alexander Hall are beautiful specimens of architecture. The Palace Chapel is used for religious ceremonies of the Royal Danish Family and is at their disposal. Other features such as the Royal Stables, the Parliament Wing, the Court Theatre and the MarbleBridge are worth a fair glance. Look out for the distinctive tapestries portraying various facets of Danish history and culture throughout the palace.
Guided tours of certain areas of the palace are available. It is open to the public from October to April, from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 am and 5 pm. There is no entrance fee for children under 7 years of age while children between the ages of 7 and 14 have to pay 55 DKK and adults have to pay 110 DKK to enter.
Of course, if your taste for royalty isn’t quenched by what Copenhagen has to offer, travel out of the city and visit Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Fredericksborg Castle in Hillerod for the Danish National portrait gallery and plenty of other Danish royal residences.