Christiansborg Palace in the 1700s

Christiansborg Palace on Slotsholmen in Copenhagen was the royal court's main residence from the 1400s until 1794, when the royal family moved to Amalienborg Palace.

There have been many palaces on Slotsholmen in Copenhagen. The first one was Bishop Absalon's Castle, then Copenhagen Castle, which was demolished in 1731, after which the construction of the first Christiansborg Palace began, designed by the two architects Nicolai Eigtved and Lauritz de Thurah. The palace was a magnificient baroque palace with a Riding Ground Complex and a Palace Chapel.

The royal family moved in in 1740 and the palace was largely completed in 1745. King Christian 7 was born in the palace 29 January 1749. Early in his life it became clear that Christian 7 was not quite normal. The young king turned out to be schizophrenic.

In 1766, the 17-year-old king married his 15-year-old English cousin Caroline Mathilde in Christiansborg Palace Chapel. After only one year they had a child together, Frederik 6. The marriage was far from a happy one and did not stop King Christian 7 from rolling around in alcohol, prostitutes, fights and wild parties.

Nightly meetings with Struensee

It was therefore perhaps not surprising that the lonely queen threw her love at the king's physician Johan Friedrich Struensee. It is reported that Caroline Mathilde tiptoed around the hallways of Christiansborg and in the Royal Stables at night to meet with his secret lover.

In 1767 the Court Theatre was opened in the building next to the Riding Ground, the building that today houses the Theatre Museum. It was here, after a masquerade ball 17 January 1772 that Struensee was arrested and imprisoned in the Citadel and Queen Caroline Mathilde placed under house arrest at Kronborg Castle in Elsinore.

King Christian 7 's stepmother, Dowager Queen Juliane Marie led the coup against Struensee. Christian 7 himself, who was too insane at the time to know what was actually going on, signed Struensee's death sentence. Caroline Mathilde was banished to Celle in northern Germany.

Christiansborg Palace today

In 1794 the first Christiansborg Palace burned down. Only the Riding Ground Complex survived the fire, and the royal family moved to Amalienborg Palace, not far away. In 1884 the second Christiansborg Palace burned down, with the exception of the Palace Chapel.

The third and current Christiansborg Palace was built in 1907-28 by architect Thorvald Jørgensen in the new Baroque style. It houses the parliament, Supreme Court and the Prime Minister's office, the Royal Reception Rooms, Christiansborg Palace Chapel, the Riding Ground Complex and the Royal Stables.

Underneath lie the ruins of Bishop Absalon's Castle and Copenhagen Castle. Guided tours of the Royal Reception Rooms, the Ruins and Theatre Museum are included in the admission price. Guided tours of Christiansborg Palace Chapel and Parliament are free.

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