Kronborg Castle, known worldwide as Hamlet's and Shakespeare's castle, is one of Northern Europe's finest Renaissance castles and moreover a UNESCO world heritage site.
Every summer in August, you can experience the Shakespeare Festival with international Hamlet performances at the castle, and in June, July and August, Shakespeare's drama is made alive and presented to the castle's guests with Hamlet Live.
In Elsinore, where the Sound between Denmark and Sweden is narrowest, you find Kronborg castle, located next to the strait, surrounded by a vast fortification with bastions and cannon batteries. The castle has a dramatic and fascinating history and is definitely worth a visit. See Frederik d. 2's magnificent dance hall, enjoy the splendid tapestries and greet Holger Danske in the skinny casemates deep below the castle.
Guardian of the Sound
The history of the castle goes way back before Shakespeare’s time. In the 1420s King Eric of Pomerania built a strong fortress, Krogen, to secure the profitable collection of the Sound Dues, a tax that would fill the king’s coffers for 400 years to come. The Sound Dues had great importance to Elsinore for more than 400 years. The money went into the king's pocket, but the trade in connection with the Sound Dues made the city wealthy and famous in the big world.
Pomp, splendour and decadence
Between 1574 -85 King Frederick II built and adorned the castle with spires, sandstone and copper roofs and Kronborg Castle became one of the most beautiful castles from the Renaissance and a strong symbol of wealth and power. The castle construction was financed by the heavy Sound Dues. The castle was a legend in its heyday in the late 1500s. Sailors, merchants, diplomats and aristocrats spoke of the magnificent castle and court in Elsinore with its pomp and splendour.
Shakespeare and Kronborg
Shakespeare allowed Kronborg to be the stage for his immortal act of the king's son Hamlet, and outside of Denmark, the castle today is best known as Hamlet's Castle. It is not known for sure if Shakespeare ever visited Kronborg, but he certainly heard the rumours of the decadent lifestyle of the court. It has been documented that British actresses visited Kronborg several times during Shakespeare's time.
Fire and war crimes
Kronborg was ravaged by a devastating and violent fire in 1629, as only the castle church survived. This put a stop to the lavish court life, and after that, it was downhill. Christian 4. Rebuilt the castle with extensive new Baroque style decorations, but in 1658 Kronborg was devastated again when the Swedes and The Swedish Karl Gustav bombarded, occupied and plundered Kronborg and took many expensive art treasures as spoils of war. For the next three hundred years, Kronborg was only used as a fortress and barracks for the Danish army.
From royal residence to military deployment
From then on it went downhill. Kronborg was fortified as a fortress with Christian V’s Kroneværk in 1690, but since then the castle has virtually not been inhabited by royals. From 1785 until 1923, the castle was used by the military, and only then thoroughly restored and returned to the majesty of Frederik II and Christian IV. During the restoration, the giant ballroom was rediscovered after having been divided into several floors of officers’ quarters.
UNESCO World Heritage Site In 2000 Kronborg Castle became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and today life has returned to the castle with 250.000 visitors annually.
Practical information During high season and holidays, prices and opening hours can be changed. See more information here
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