Royal sights are abundant in the city of Copenhagen and surrounding area. We visited a few of these.
Rosenborg Castle was built by Christian IV in the 17th century as a summer home and became his favoured residence. The exhibits at this castle detail 400 years of the history of Danish kings. The palace is somewhat darker than some of the others but it is full of the personality of Christian IV who ruled at the peak of Denmark’s power and lived his life with exuberance. The castle is surrounded by the royal pleasure gardens.
The Long Hall – Throne Room is considered one of the best-preserved Baroque rooms in Europe. The King’s throne is made of narwhal tusk from Greenland (the most precious material in its day) and the queen’s throne is made from hammered steel. The 150 pound lions are 300 years old.
The Royal Treasury is also on display at Rosenborg, including the Crown Jewels. Since Denmark became a constitutional monarchy, the monarchs no longer wear the crowns, except for their funerals. Christian IV’s coronation crown from 1596 is made of seven pounds of gold and precious stones.
The Round Tower is nearby to Rosenborg. Christian IV built the tower with an observatory at the top as a prestige project in 1642. We walked up the broad spiral ramp to enjoy the view of the King’s Copenhagen.
Frederiksborg Castle sits on an island in the middle of a lake in the town of Hillerod. We reached the town by a 40 minute S-train ride. Frederiksborg is thought to be the grandest castle in Scandanavia and is often called the ‘Danish Versailles’. King Christian IV built the castle from 1602 to 1620; after a fire in 1859, much of the castle was reconstructed.
The Royal Chapel was used for 200 years for the coronation of Danish kings and is still used for both royal and commoner weddings. The Chapel is nearly all original, dating back to 1620. The walls of the chapel are lined with hundreds of coats of arms of individuals who have received royal orders from the Danish crown.
Christiansborg Palace stands on the ruins of Copenhagen’s original 12th century fortress. The current palace dates only from 1928 and is the 6th to stand in this spot over 800 years. The palace served as the main residence of the royal family until 1974. Even today the royal family use large parts of the Palace. The complex of buildings house the Parliament, Supreme Court, Prime Minister’s office, royal reception rooms, royal library, several museums and the royal stables. A number of the areas are open to the public for viewing.
The Royal Reception Rooms are still used by Queen Margrethe II to impress visiting dignitaries. The Great Hall is lined with boldly coloured tapestries, which were given to the Queen on her 60th birthday in 2000 and narrate 1000 years of Danish history. This room can accommodate up to 400 guests.
The Velvet Room is where the royals privately greet special guests before big functions. The throne room is used by the Queen to receive foreign ambassadors and has a balcony from which monarchs are proclaimed – most recently, Queen Margrethe in 1972.
We visited the Royal Kitchen, which was built for the current palace. The kitchen was used for preparing food for several hundred guests when the Royal Family held official gala dinners in the Great Hall upstairs. The kitchen is equipped and furnished as it was in King Christian X’s day and visitors can follow the preparations for a gala dinner to mark the king’s 25th Jubilee on May 15, 1937. This was the largest royal banquet to be held for 90 years. Today, when the Royal Family holds gala dinners at Christiansborg Palace, the food is prepared at Amalienborg Palace.
Amalienborg Palace is the Royal Family’s main residence and consists of four palaces from the 18th century. Christian VII’s Palace is the Queen’s guest place where visitors are shown royal life past and present. Queen Margrethe II and her husband live in one of the other four mansions.
Leaving the Palace, we happened on the Amalienborg Palace Changing of the Guard. This event was definitely more organized and entertaining than the guard changing we observed in Stockholm – with choreographed guards and an entertaining military band.
The Caritas Well is Copenhagen’s oldest fountain, built in 1608 by Christian IV. Featuring a pregnant woman squirting water from her breasts next to boy urinating, the people of the Victorian Age corked both figures and raised the statue in an attempt to hide it.
We have now returned home after our amazing trip to six new countries – I will post one more blog entry in the next few days with some overall observations and a few travel tips for the region.