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Kronborg Castle

By Julia Bocchese

What is Kronborg Castle?

Kronborg Castle is a Renaissance castle strategically positioned to control entry to the Baltic Sea. It played an important role in the history of Northern Europe and even inspired Shakespeare.

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Text: Kronborg Castle, Denmark. Images: above, an interior view; below a view of the castle from inside the courtyard.
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Why is Kronborg Castle a UNESCO World Heritage site?

Construction of Kronborg Castle started in the 1420s and continued into the 16th century. According to UNESCO, “The Sound is the gateway to the Baltic Sea and from 1429 to 1857, Denmark controlled this passage thanks to Kronborg Castle, positioned at the narrowest part of the Sound, which is only four kilometres wide. Around 1.8 million ships passed through the Sound during this period and all of them had to pay a toll at Kronborg Castle. For this reason Kronborg Castle and its fortress became a symbol of Denmark’s power.”

Kronborg Castle was influential throughout Europe, and it inspired the castle Elsinore in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. You can read more about Kronborg Castle and the town of Helsingør here.

A circular tower extends outside of a flat wall of Kronborg tower. All of it ilight red brick or stone, both the wall and the tower itself, except that the top of the spire is a series of levels in green copper coming to a point at the top. The windows on the tower are very small, while the ones on the building - 3 stories under the roof - are tall rectangles. The roof looks like it holds two or three stories and 2 large, 2-story dormers are visible in this photo.

What can you expect on a visit?

The town of Helsingør is quaint and beautiful, and the castle has been well kept with many rooms that you can explore. They have a lot of the original furniture and tapestries so you can really get a sense of what the castle looked like centuries ago. If you visit in the summer, you can see scenes from “Hamlet” acted out throughout the castle for a fun experience.

Is Kronborg worth visiting?

Kronborg Castle is definitely worth a visit when you’re in Denmark for all the reasons listed above.

An interior in Kronborg Castle: ornate ceiling with a chandelier (with candles, not bulbs) hanging from a sculptured plaster circle and inlaid sections with dark paintings on them. On the right-hand wall, a fireplace with a baroque mantlepiece above it and plaster decorations on the white wall around it. On the far wall, a tapestry hangs and a table covered with a cloth stands in front of the tapestry.

What sorts of travelers would like Kronborg?

Visitors of all ages will enjoy visiting Kronborg Castle, especially people interested in history or fans of Shakespeare.  You should plan on spending a couple of hours at Kronborg Castle and longer if you want to explore Helsingør (which is worth doing).

two sides of the inner courtyard of Kronborg castle. Walls are mostly flat with many windows on each story: 3 stories under the roofline, perhaps 2-3 more under the roof, which has large 2-story dormers. In the corner is a small tower with a green copper roof. People enter through an archway in the right-hand wall.

Tips for visiting Kromborg and Helsingor

The castle can get pretty crowded during the summer, so I recommend going early during the summer months. If you want to explore the town of Helsingør, there are lots of shops, restaurants, quaint houses, museums, and a historic Carmelite monastery that you can see.

Use the map below to book your accommodations in Helsingør:

You might also like to visit another UNESCO site, Roskilde Cathedral, which isn’t too far away.

Where is Kronborg Castle?

The address of the castle is Kronborg 2 C, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark. There is parking at the castle for a fee, or you can take a train from Copenhagen to Helsingør in under an hour and walk to the castle.

For more information about Kronborg Castle, their opening hours and admission fees, see the official website.

Have you been to Kronborg Castle? If so, do you have any additional information or advice about this UNESCO World Heritage site? Please add your comments below!

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