North of Copenhagen is Elsinore – and Denmark’s third UNESCO World Heritage site, Kronborg Castle.

This is the home of Hamlet, the mythical prince of Denmark. (The town’s Danish name is Helsingør, but Elsinore sounds so much more romantic, doesn’t it?)


Kronborg Castle is interesting enough in its own right, even without any references to Shakespeare’s mad protagonist. It’s from an era when Denmark was one of the great powers in Europe.

Built as a naval fortress to guard the entrance to the Baltic Sea, King Fredrik II converted Kronborg into a fantastic renaissance palace. And since the Queen, the lovely (and might I add, beautifully named) Sophie, loved to dance, this royal summer house sported northern Europe’s largest ball room. Must have been a fun place to hang out in the 1500s.

The girls and I explore the royal apartments, surprisingly modestly decorated. Well… perhaps it isn’t so surprising. We are in Scandinavia after all, not France. Some saucy paintings decorate the otherwise stark castle walls:

Outside are moats and drawbridges. I half expect to see the dead Ophelia floating in the moat. Over by the swans there, perhaps? Or even see Hamlet’s ghost, or that of his father, brutally murdered by his wife Gertrude and his scheming brother Claudius. Dramatic stuff. But they must all be away today. Neither ghosts nor Ken Branagh or Mel Gibson roam the grounds of this magnificent castle on this warm August afternoon.

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Kronborg Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.

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  1. The Travel Chica 11 June 2011 at 1750 - Reply

    A castle could not be complete without saucy paintings.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 11 June 2011 at 1803 - Reply

      @Travel Chica – Haha, they do seem to belong, don’t they?

  2. inka 11 June 2011 at 1804 - Reply

    Sophie the dancing queen. How I love your writing style. Are you sure Ophelia wasn’t around? Never mind the fantasies, a great castle in its own right. I think I really must go ‘north’ one of these days.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 11 June 2011 at 1851 - Reply

      @Inka and @Renee – thanks so much for your kind words, ladies!

  3. Renee 11 June 2011 at 1846 - Reply

    Yes, Elsinore is more romantic and so are castles, but aren’t they always? Great post…I always learn something wonderful and new from you, Sophie!

  4. Andrea 12 June 2011 at 0038 - Reply

    Beautiful! I can’t wait to be in Europe in less than three weeks so we can see castles again =)

  5. Christian 12 June 2011 at 1324 - Reply

    I really like going up to Helsingør, and maybe take the boat over to Sweden. Often stop at Kronborg and stroll around the place. A good place for the imagination.

  6. Grace 13 June 2011 at 0408 - Reply

    Lovely…but does it have a dungeon?

  7. The Dropout 13 June 2011 at 0851 - Reply

    Was there really no ghostly feeling there? Bah – what a disappointment.
    Great post, though.

  8. Very interesting. I haven’t been to this castle but it is calling to me. Moats and drawbridges, what could be better?

  9. Don Faust 14 June 2011 at 0528 - Reply

    Looks nice – I’ve always wanted to go to Copenhagen, and Denmark in general.

  10. Jeremy Branham 15 June 2011 at 0006 - Reply

    Well I’ll say this – I knew I recognized that photo! Interesting history of this castle though!

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