Denmark has abundant of fairytale castles, from Shakespearean stronghold and regal rural retreats to abandoned island fortresses. Here we present some of the best of Denmark’s fairytale castles.
This small Scandinavian kingdom showcases an impressive collection of palaces, fortresses, magnificent water castles and countryside regal retreats.
Let’s begin our journey with the “Hamlet” castle Kronborg.
Kronborg Castle, in the city of Helsingør, has been immortalized by Shakespeare as the setting for much of his epic royal revenge tragedy, and he named it Elsinore. No wonder, Kronborg Castle is famous for being the Hamlet Castle.
Constructed in the 15th century as a vital border point for the ships traveling via the sound to and from the Baltic Sea, it was once one of the most prominent and powerful castles in Europe.
The spectacular UNESCO-protected fortress stands over the narrow Øresund sound, just four kilometers across the water from Sweden. It’s filled with mysterious pathways, halls and dungeons.
The magnificent Egeskov Castle is one of the most famous castles in Europe and conveniently and romantically located in the middle of the country’s southern Funen landscape. The castle has around 2,000 window panes and the ground floor, named the Hunting Room, displays some of the oldest trophies won in the game hunting. The first floor consists of a banquet hall and five other rooms with different names, all worth visiting.
The classic car exhibition featuring over 50 vehicles of different eras is a must for classic car enthustiasts.
Titania’s Palace is an impressive 3,000-piece dollhouse hand-built by the Irish company James Hicks & Son at the beginning of the 20th century.
Egeskov has genuine fairytale looks and the many hedge mazes may let you get completely lost on the castle’s premises. On its picturesque ground you might even come across remnants of the old oak forest that helped create the foundations of the best maintained and beautiful water castles in Europe that isn’t in ruins.
Sitting a mere 30 minutes from Skive in Northern Jutland, Spøttrup Castle is slightly off the average visitor’s radar. The castle is from the beginning of the 16th century and looks like a real robber baron’s castle with its moat, ramparts and high walls with embrasures.
The Castle Museum offers insight into the life of the people who lived, fought and worked at the castle through the ages.
Frederiksborg Castle situated in the Hillerød is a Renaissance palace on the water surrounded by lovely Baroque gardens. Built by the Danish king Christian IV, It was the first Danish castle to be built inland and was always destined for recreational rather than defense purposes, which explains the fairytale looks.
Numerous towers, fountains, statues, turrets and spires enhance its charming allure.
The rooms are very beautifully decorated with paintings, furniture, portraits, and other decorative art invite the visitors to go through the Danish history and culture from the late middle ages to the present. This is a stunning example of the historic opulence of royal families in Denmark. Don’t forget to head inside the Valdemar Room and the palace’s very own chapel.
In the north-western Denmark you’ll find the beautiful historic Voergaard Castle with an art collection worth watching. Its very own moat held back hordes of angry villagers from its spectacular interiors with pictures by Raphael, Rubens and El Greco. The Napoleon’s dinner service collection is also something that will surely blow your mind, and you can enjoy it all without fear of being thrown into the moat!
Take a trip to the quaint little town of Vordingborg and explore the vast grounds and ruins of Vordingborg Castle that date back almost a millennia. The castle may cause you to think of the home of Rapunzel.
In the classic hunting landscape of North Zealand, you’ll find the Hermitage, which technically is not a castle but a hunting lodge. Nevertheless, the Hermitage is an indisputable part of the Danish castle heritage. In 2015, UNESCO inscribed the Dyrehave (Deer Park) surrounding the lodge into its World Heritage list of North Zealand. It’s still richly forested.
Located in Kolding, you’ll find the beautiful Koldinghus Castle with its colorful history where you also can see pieces of jewelry from the 13th century until modern times. The castle is so big that you might get lost if you don’t stick with your guide.
The 400 years old beautiful Rosenborg Castle, a perfect example of Renaissance architecture, is sitting in the beating heart of Copenhagen. The castle was built by one of the famous Scandinavian kings, Christian IV. Don’t miss the Long Hall inside where you can discover all about the country’s regal past. The Royal Collections include the Crown Jewels and Regalia, a Coronation Carpet and the Throne Chair of Denmark.
Apart from the splendid exhibits, the walk through the numerous richly decorated halls and pathways of the castle are an architectural feast.
The 500 years old Rosenholm Castle is Denmark’s oldest family-owned castle. Much of its architectural inspiration comes from Italy in the 16th Century and is truly one of its kind in Northern Europe.
It’s been said that if London has Buckingham Palace, Copenhagen has Amalienborg Castle. Both England and Denmark have queens and both countries are constitutional monarchies. Amalienborg in Copenhagen, designed by the architect Nicolai Eigtved in the starting of 1750, consists of four identical buildings initially intended to be residences for four famous aristocrats.
The royal guard changes at every two hours and it is a place where you can take glimpses of past duration back (150 years) of the monarchy. The rooms of the king and queen are maintained exactly as if they live in them.
The royal family moved here at the end of the 18th century after a fire that destroyed their old home at Christiansborg Palace.
Situated on the central islet of Slotsholmen, Christiansborg Palace is surrounded by canals in the heart of Denmark near Copenhagen. Christiansborg was the place where the queen used to sign laws, hold audiences, hold banquets and receptions. This was the place where old tradition of modern royal families used to meet.
Today, Christiansborg Palace is the only building on Earth that houses all three supreme powers in governing a country; the country’s Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Supreme Court. Royals also have their corner here, hosting receptions and meetings with the official delegations.
At Christiansborg, you will be able to explore and enjoy the Royal Stables, the Tower with the best (and free) views over Copenhagen, the Palace Chapel and ruins of two former castles underneath.
With almost 500 years of history, Aalborghus Castle, located in Aalborg near the Limfjord and Tolbod Plads is one of the countries most understated castles. It’s timber frame and charming buildings may look quite different from the likes of Frederiksborg Castle but its significance is just as important.
The castle was built by King Christian III in 1539 and after 16 years, it was finally completed and became the residence of the local governor. It was built as a fortress but it turned out that it was useless as a fortress. Instead it became the main office for the king’s vassal in North Jutland and today, the castle is used by the state administration.
The elegant Baroque style Fredensborg Castle is perhaps the castle that the Danish royals love the most. It’s often called Denmark’s Versailles. It was named by King Frederik IV and Fredensborg literally means “Castle of Peace” due to the fact that the king was at peace during those times, and that he wished to celebrate the end of the Great Northern War of 1722 that had been raging on their land for long.
Queen Margrethe celebrates her birthdays here, Queen Mother Ingrid made it her private residence, Princess Benedikte had her wedding in the palace chapel and it’s used as a spring and autumn home by Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary.
The gardens are open all year round and the palace can be visited on special occasions.
Perched on a small islet in Zealand, Dragsholm Castle is one of the oldest buildings in the region. Nowadays you can not only explore but also stay in this wonderful (and haunted) castle.
Towering over the rocky cliffs of the North tip of Bornholm island lies the epic Hammershus, considered to be the largest medieval fortification in Northern Europe.
Although now in ruins, the walls of this fortress tell countless stories of Baltic crusades, fierce battles and daily life in the Dark Ages.
Located on the Danish island of Funen, the Nyborg Castle is a beautiful castle and one of Denmark’s oldest royal residences. Its Danehof Hall was the Danish Parliament in the 15th century. In 2009, a museum was built inside the castle which displays the cultural heritage of Denmark. The castle was majorly damaged during the Danish-Swedish war but was later restored and opened for public in the form of Museum.
Last, but not least, we head for Aarhus to visit the gorgeous Marselisborg Palace. It’s famed for its everyday ritual of the ‘Changing of the Guard” conducted by the Royal Life Guard. The Palace grounds, including the Queen’s rose garden, are open to the public when the Royal family is not in residence.
Marselisborg Palace was given by the people of Denmark as a wedding gift to the Crown Prince Christian (later Christian X) and his consort Princess Alexandrine. They used it as their summer residence. The current palace was rebuilt in 1899 – 1902 by Architect Hack Kampmann.
No wonder that Denmark’s fairytale castles attract millions of tourists from across the globe every year. Each castle has a charm of its own and represents the ancient history, tradition and culture of this great country.
You may also like to read: Castle Island, Copenhagen
Feature image (on top): Fredensborg castle. Photo: Visit Denmark
Denmark’s Fairytale Castles, compiled and written by Tor Kjolberg