Castle Island, Copenhagen


To the southeast of Strøget, the main shopping area in the capital of Denmark, lies Slotsholmen (Castle Island). Surrounded by canals, the island is the seat of the Danish Parliament and government ministries. Din’t miss a visit to Castle Island in Copenhagen.

Bishop Abasalon built a fortress on the islet in 1167. The fortress was replaced by a new castle in 1367 and from 1416 it was the home of the Danish king. In the 1730s King Kristian VI ordered a new palace. This one, a magnificent Baroque building, burned in 1794 and was replaced with another new palace which ill-fated as it was, burned down in 1884.

Castle Island, Copenhagen
Christiansborg Castle from Royal Riding Grounds

Castle Island, Copenhagen
The present version of Christianborg Palace is around 100 years old and contains Parliament, the prime minister’s office, the Supreme Court and the Royal Reception Chambers. The granite façade of this imposing building was made from stones gathered in every parish in the country. The equestrian statue, erected on the Palace Square, depicts King Frederik VII (1843-63).

Related: Scandinavian Royal Line

Royal reception chambers. Photo: Mikkel Granlund

House of Parliament
The public may join conducted tours of the House of Parliament in English, year-round. The stately Royal Reception Chambers, still used by the royal family, are richly decorated and contain 11 modern gobelin tapestries commissioned for the Queen’s 50th birthday.

The Ruins of Absalon’s Old Fortress and the medieval castle are accessible to visitors and make an interesting “underground” visit.

Castle Island, Copenhagen
Copenhagen Supreme Court

The Palace Chapel
The Palace Chapel, inaugurated in 1826, is located to the north of Christiansborg. Behind the chapel is Thorvaldens Museum, which contains the works of Denmark’s great sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), who lived and worked in Rome for 40 years.

Related: Botanical Gardens and Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen

In front of Christianborg is the Ridebanen, the royal riding grounds, from the 1740s bordered by the only surviving buildings from the first Christianborg. The royal horses are still exercised here, and their stables can be visited on the southeast side of the square – the Museum of Royal Stables and Coaches (Kongelige Stalde og Kareter).

Castle Island, Copenhagen
From the Theatre Museum, Copenhagen

The Theatre Museum
Adjacent to the stables, the Teatermuseet is one of the oldest court-theatres in the world, designed in 1766 by the French architect Nicolas-Henri Jardin. The equestrian statue on the riding grounds depicts King Kristian IX, who died in 1906.

Castle Island, Copenhagen
Copenhagen Stock Exchange. Photo: Thomas Hyrup Christensen

The Stock Exchange
East of Christianborg is another of Copenhagen’s best-known buildings, the Stock Exchange, built in 1619 in Dutch-Renaissance style by Kristian IV. Its prominent spire is formed by the entwined tails of four dragons said to protect the building from fire. On the southeast side of the island is the Royal Library (Det Kongelige Bibliotek) and its “Brick Diamond” – an architectural wonder of old and new.

Castle Island, Copenhagen
Royal Library, Copenhagen. Photo: Wikipedia

The Royal Library
Det Kongelige Bibliotek dates back to 1482 and is the largest library in Scandinavia, with more than 2 ½ million volumes. The Black Diamond, completed in 1999, is a modern extension in black polished granite perched on the water’s edge.

Castle Island, Copenhagen, written by Tor Kjolberg