Copenhagen is a contemporary and modern capital city in Europe, and at the same time, retains its rich history and culture, which could be discovered by the many castles and palaces in and around Copenhagen. Check out these beautiful five magnificent buildings and follow in the footsteps of the royal families.
Out of the five castles listed, three of them are in Copenhagen’s city center and you could easily design your own Royal walking tour in Copenhagen. Begin your visit from Amalienborg, the main residence of the Royal Family, then move to the Marble Church, and the Royal Danish Theatre.
Check out Christiansborg Palace and the nearby Holmen’s Church; head to The Caritas Well, the Church of our Lady. Climb to the top of the Round Tower, and finally, check out Rosenborg Castle and the King’s Garden. For another day, venture to the surrounding towns and visit the three other castes that you shouldn’t miss.
1760, Style: Rococo
The Royal Family’s main residence with an impressive collection of Russian jewelry
Amalienborg is the Royal Family’s main residence and consists of four palaces from the 18th century (after Christiansborg was burnt down in 1794). It is conveniently located in the city center within walking distance to other iconic museums and heritage like the Designmuseum and the Mermaid.
Every day at noon, visitors can enjoy the changing of The Royal Life Guard in their traditional uniforms.
At the Amalienborg Museum, visitors get right to the heart of the monarchy. You can go on a journey through time, spanning the last 150 years of history, and gain an understanding of the individuals behind the Danish monarchy.
Explore the rooms that the Royal Family inhabited, which are preserved as though they had just been left. Their rooms and belongings tell a very special family history – and an important part of Danish history.
From the museum, there is access to the piano nobile, including the Gala Hall and the other magnificent rooms. Also, the Faberge Chamber features the world’s most important collections of Russian jewelry.
Check out the nearby Marble Church. It is the foundation stone of the church with the grand dome laid by Frederik V in 1749, but it didn’t become the magnificent focal point of Amalienborg Palace until it was finished in 1894.
Highlights of Amalienborg
The palace square has a ceiling height of eight meters with an abundance of gliding. The Gala Hall ranks among the most impressive rooms in Denmark. The Royal Family had the hall furnished in 1794. The internationally celebrated sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen made the sculptures for the room.
Queen Louise’s private salon from around 1895 reflects the modern interior decoration of her time. The paintings in the room and the framed photographs on the tables are evidence of her active family life with close ties to all of Europe.
Book a guided tour to enter Christian VII’s Palace and follow the footsteps of the royal guests and see the magnificent rooms where the New Year Banquet and other official festivities are held.
1416, Style: Baroque, Neoclassicism, Neo-baroque
This is a miniature of Copenhagen’s history and development
Christiansborg Palace was constructed with granite on the exterior, with bricks and wooden materials on the interior – it was technically the earliest brick architecture in Copenhagen.
The earliest part of the palace dates back to the years 1259 – 1369, while it was defeated by foreign powers, Christiansborg was restored in 1416, becoming the imperial residence of the royal family. Being an architectural enthusiast, Christian IV added a beautiful stable and chapel on top of the new Baroque-style architecture. During the reign of Christian VI, the palace expanded as one of the most luxurious palaces in Europe.
The Palace was the main residence of Danish monarchs until all these works were burned down again in a fire in 1794, only the stable was preserved until today. The current palace that we see today was created in 1928, designed by Thorvald Jorgensen, and the Queen uses large parts of the impressive palace for state dinners, banquets, and receptions.
Take a walk and check out the many palaces, the basement, the chapel, and the original stable that survived the fire hundreds of years ago. The glamourous royal apartments are richly decorated with 11 stunning tapestries illustrating the history of Denmark. The Royal Family’s magnificent white horses and elegant carriages are kept behind the palace between the marble columns of the Royal Stables.
Thorvaldsens Museum next to the castle is an important art museum with impressive sculptures and paintings in the galleries. The nearby Holmen’s Church was the venue of Queen Margrethe’s marriage to the French Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat in 1967.
Highlights of Christiansborg
Upon entering the palace, the Queen’s staircase connects to the event halls such as the Alexander Room, the Abildgaard Room, and the Queen’s Library. Alexander Hall is named after the frieze by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. It depicts the entry of Alexander the Great into Babylon. Appreciate the book collection of 90,000 books of Queen Margrethe at the Queen’s Library, Nicolai Abildgaard’s painting in the Abildgaard Room, and the paintings of the Swedish kings in the Swedish Gallery.
The Great Hall in the palace can accommodate up to 400 guests for banquets, state visits, and New Year receptions. The table in the Dining Hall is made of mahogany from the Queen’s Staircase in the second Christian Palace. The Danish artist Bjorn Norgaard’s modern tapestries were a gift to Queen Margrethe II in 2000. They narrate 1000 years of Denmark’s history, from Biking times to the present day.
The Velvet Hall is where guests are presented to the Queen and the royal family at royal banquets. Moving to the Throne Room is used by the Queen to receive foreign ambassadors. From the balcony, Danish Kings and Queens are proclaimed. King Frederik VI’s Room showcases Christopher Eckersberg’s four paintings hung in the Great Hall of the Palace until the fire in 1884.
The Royal Reception Rooms uses the magnificent rooms and halls of Christiansborg Palace for official events such as audiences, banquets, and state visits.
1624, Style: Dutch Renaissance
The precious treasury collection of crowns
While Rosenborg may look small, the compact interior of this castle has an impressive number of paintings, furniture, and valuables from the royal families. Rosenborg was originally the summer palace of Christian IV and his imperial family.
The king loved this site and so it was expanded between 1606 and 1634, including the music chamber for the king to enjoy music. Rosenborg is opened as a museum in 1883, with 24 rooms that tell a story of the royal lifestyle in the 19th century.
The castle is in the city center of Copenhagen with close proximity to a number of museums, including the Museum of Natural History, the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK), and the Hirschsprung Collection. The King’s Garden is Denmark’s oldest royal garden, planted at the beginning of the 17th century. The Round Tower was built by Christian IV with an observatory at the top as a prestige project in 1642. walk up the broad spiral ramp and enjoy the view of the king’s Copenhagen.
Highlights of Rosenborg
The castle has three floors, and the ground floor showcases Christian IV’s Winter Room, with a collection of Netherlandish art. The movable tiles in the corners hide secret music channels, the gilt silver rider is Christian IV. It was paid for with prizes he won tilting at the ring during his coronation festivities in 1596. In the Writing Room, the wall the room hangs family portraits, with images of Christian IV’s mother, Queen Sophie and Duke Ulrik, and Christian IV with the crown. Christian IV died in the Bedchamber in 1648.
Christian IV’s toilet is the lowest of the three toilets with its own chute to the moat. The beautiful tiles are from Delft and were put up in 1705.
In the Dark Room, the wax figures depict Fredrik III, Queen Sophie Amalie, and their son Prince George. As a prank, the trouser-wetting chair could grab a person with grapples hidden in the armrests, and then soak the seat with water that ran from a holder in the backrest. The Garden Room is Christian IV’s bathroom and the mythological painting celebrates the power of wine.
The Marble Chamber is decorated with Italian scagliola in 1668, the room hails the absolute monarch. Christian V’s chamber features the king’s Queen Charlotte Amalie’s portraits on the wall. The Stone Corridor, on the other hand, shows a large genealogical chart. The Stair Tower shows works from the 1600s tournament pictures.
On the first floor, The Princess’s Lacquered Chamber belonged to Princess Sophie Hedvig. The wall decoration in Chinese lacquer style from 1665 is one of the world’s oldest. At Frederik IV’s Hall, the table with inlaid semi-precious stones was a present from the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The lenticular portrait is of Frederik IV and his sister. The table, mirror, and gueridons are made of boxwood. The set is highly influenced by the age’s fascination with Asia.
Frederik V’s Cabinet is a delicate room with tapestries that were woven in Berlin. In front of them hangs a rare amber chandelier. On the chest of drawers is a bust of Queen Juliane Marie made by Royal Copenhagen. The birdcage with a clock, music box, and moveable birds is from Paris.
Frederik VII’s room is furnished for comfort and homeliness. In the window vitrine lies the pen with which the king signed the democratic constitution of 1849.
On the second floor is the long hall with an ivory throne that is an impressive sight.
Don’t miss the Royal collections that span a breadth of royal Danish culture, from the late 16th century of Christian IV to the 19th century. Some of these articles once belonged to the nobility and the aristocracy. The Crown Jewels, the Crown of King Christian IV, and the Danish Crown Regalia are the highlights of the exhibit.
1420, Style: Renaissance
The stage of the William Shakespeare drama – Hamlet
Kronborg Castle has been an important stronghold at the northeastern tip of the island of Zealand at the narrowest point of Øresund at Elsinore. The castle dates back to 1420, constructed by King Eric VII, it towered above the Sound between Denmark and Sweden and played a key role in Northern European history for four centuries between the 1420s and 1857. The Renaissance castle stands majestically with its spires, towers, columns, sandstone, and copper roofs. Kronborg is also world-famous as the home of Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare’s tragedy. In the late 1500s, William Shakespeare wrote his most famous drama, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The play takes place at Kronborg Castle, and Shakespeare was allegedly inspired by Frederik II’s impressive parties, which were known throughout Europe. At the Flag Bastion, the Queen’s Chamber, and the Chapel, visitors are walking in the footsteps of Hamlet.
The castle was destroyed by fire in 1629 and then vividly restored by Christian IV with a golden roof, a moat, and reinforced walls. It is listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage in 2000.
The castle was invaded in 1658 by the Swedish army and many of the valuable items were robbed. The interior of the castle is simple, and visitors can walk through the many chambers including the bedrooms, the library, the castmate kitchen, the King’s chamber, and more. The major draw of Kronborg is its grandeur from the outside, the open view of the strait, and the castle is one of the most important highlights of Elsinore. Check out how to plan a day trip from Denmark to Elsinore, where you should walk through Kronborg, visit the nearby museums, take pictures of a number of street arts, and stop by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, one of the most prestigious and visited contemporary art museum in Denmark.
Highlights of Kornborg
The royal apartments were the home of the King and Queen when they lived at Kronborg. The chambers were originally designed when King Frederik II transformed the original fortress into Kronborg, but King Christian IV had to recreate them after a fire in 1629.
The magnificent Ballroom is a 62-meter-long space that is quite a sight. The Great Ballroom was the largest such hall in all of northern Europe, and it was here that the royal couple’s two eldest daughters were married. Guests at the many parties were seated along the sides of the ballroom at opulent banqueting tables overflowing with food.
At the King’s tapestries exhibit, visitors will find seven tapestries that were originally part of a series of more than 40 tapestries with portraits of 100 Danish kings, including Erik VII and Erik VIII, Knud VI, Valdemar II “the Victorious”, Christoffer II, Erik VI, Oluf. Each tapestry shares stories of each king and their brief history.
They were commissioned by King Frederik II around 1580. A further seven tapestries are now on display at the National Museum of Denmark; the rest have been lost.
The casemates are under Kronborg – “Casemate” is Latin, meaning “home in darkness”. The casemates consist of two separate stories. The upper story had a number of practical applications, containing among other things a guard room, a smithery, and the stables. The main purpose of the lower story was to provide a safe shelter during times of war. These dark and damp rooms could accommodate up to 350 men with enough supplies for a six-week siege. This is also where you’ll find the legendary hero Ogier the Dane fast asleep in the darkness. According to legend, the slumbering giant will be awakened, whenever Denmark is threatened by a foreign enemy.
The chapel has beautifully carved and colorful Renaissance interiors. The church was consecrated in 1582 and survived the great fire in 1629. It will give you an impression of the brilliantly colored splendor that originally characterized Kronborg.
The Cannon Tower is an immense flat-roofed tower used to serve as a cannon tower. During good weather, you can enjoy a spectacular view from the tower’s roof across Kronborg and the Sound all the way to Sweden as well as over the city of Elsinore.
1620, Style: Baroque and Renaissance
The largest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia by the water, it is called the “Nordic Versailles”
One thing that makes Frederiksborg recognizable is that the castle was built on a lake. The train ride to Hillerød from Copenhagen takes about an hour and it is one of the most popular among the many castles in the suburbs of Copenhagen. Frederiksborg was the royal residence of King Christian IV and it became an important museum – Denmark’s Museum of National History has been housed at Frederiksborg Castle since 1878.
The castle itself, which was built at the time of Christian IV, was restored after a fire in 1859. The Museum was founded by the brewer J. C. Jacobsen as a separate department of the Carlsberg Foundation. In addition to magnificent rooms such as the Chapel, the Rose, the Audience Chamber, and the Great Hall, the Museum contains Denmark’s most important collection of portraits and history paintings as well as distinguished examples of decorative art. The Chronological Collection illustrates Denmark’s history from 1500 until the present day.
Highlights of Frederikborg
The Rose, also called The Knight’s Room, is a reconstruction of how it looked at the time of Christian IV when it was used as a dining room for the lords and ladies of the court. Various special exhibitions are held in the other rooms.
The Chapel, dating from the time of Christian IV, and the Audience Chamber, were designed and completed by the architect Lambert van Have for Christian V in the 1680s. The period of the first Oldenborg kings, from Christian I to Christian IV, is covered in the first part of the first floor. The period from 1850 to 1900, including the Selsvig Wars, is illustrated in the later part.
On the second floor, the Great Hall is a reconstruction and appeared in the time of Christian IV. Paintings, furniture, and objects showing the pompous magnificence of the early period of absolutism can be seen in the middle part. Portraits and furnishings from 1700-1850 are shown in the later part of the second floor.
The top floor features the history of the 20th and 21st centuries, presented in the shape of portraits, history paintings, and furniture of the period. The photo gallery displays changing exhibitions.