Copenhagen’s Castles

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Somehow we slept in a little and got a late start to the morning though it really didn’t affect our plans. We found a not so good coffee shop by the visitor center with good pastries (though I accidentally got an almond croissant filled with rhubarb) and bad coffee.  Today we planned to visit a few castles including Christiansborg Slot and Roseborg Slot. 

Christiansborg Slot

Soon we arrived at Christiansborg Slot by the opening time at 10. The combination ticket for 120 was the cheapest option. This allowed us to visit several rooms in the castle that were nicely decorated, not too ornate, and well marked with information, along with the ruins of the other castles upon which this one was built, and the empty stables.

Given a large tour had just entered the slot, we opted to start at the slot’s basement to see the ruins of previous castles. Most of the ruins were from Absalon’s Castle and Copenhagen Castle, though two more castles were built on this site in addition to the current.

Bishop Absalon’s Castle was erected in 1167 on a small islet in the waters off the small town of Havn, now Copenhagen. The Absalon’s Castle survived frequent attacks until it was torn down by the Hanseatic League in 1369. Parts of its protective limestone wall may still be seen today.

By the end of the 14th century, the site became home to Copenhagen Castle. Along with a curtain wall, the castle featured a moat. The castle changed hands multiple times over the next three hundreds years, and with new owners came changes. With several additions, the castle began crumbling under its own weight and was demolished in the 1730s.

The first Christianborg Slot was commissioned by Christian VI in 1745 which promptly burned down from a stove in 1794. Rebuilt in the early 1800’s, the castle survived until 1884 when it burned down from a stove again. The third Christianborg Slot was completed in 1928.

After visiting the ruins, we entered the Royal Reception Rooms of the palace. We followed the queen’s staircase to the Alexander Hall, the Queen’s Library, the Great Hall, the Throne Room, and the Tower Room, just to name a few I liked the most. The Alexander room walls of mosaic were lovely. The Queen’s Library held a collection of books of many languages and topics. I believe there were 10,000 books from which to chose! The great hall was by far the most colorful. Huge tapestries depicting Danish history from the Viking times to present adorned the walls. Created over a decade, they were completed in 2000. In the Throne Room, the queen’s throne is larger than the king’s, though the queen usually stands. I liked the Tower Room simply because the piano was cool and the walls appeared to be marble, but upon closer inspection, we found they were painted.

We left the inside of the palace, crossed the cobblestone court yard, and entered the luxurious stables. Usually home to several gray horses who were taking vacation in countryside pastures, the stables still lingered with horse aroma (others may say smell). After checking out the assortment of carriages, certainly one for every occasion, we walked northwest along the pedestrian streets to the food market called Torvehallerne KBH.

On the way to Torvehallerne, we made shorts tops in the George Jensen and Royal Copenhagen stores. We figured they were famous in Denmark so we had to at least browse. We continued browsing at the busy market as we went from vendor to vendor trying to decide on lunch. Should we get berries and fruit, smoked meats, seafood, burgers, pasta, pizza, or coffee and pastries just to name a few. The twin glass halls, located next to the metro were quite a popular spot for the locals who could pick up lunch, groceries, and flowers if they had room in their bicycle basket! We really enjoyed the busy, local vibe before we re-entered the tourist area at Rosenborg Slot just a few blocks away.

Rosenborg Slot

Rosenborg Slot was busy! We waited in a line for the first time since we had been in Copenhagen to get our tickets and maneuvered through several rooms along with a crowd, though it was far from the crowds at Versailles. The rooms were far more ornate than the previous castle and housed Crown Jewels among other Royal items. Fortunately, Suman had a small pocket guide that mentioned a few of the rooms and their features so that we knew something about the palace as our ticket didn’t include any floor plan or information. In addition, no signage informed us of what we were viewing…a far different experience from Christianborg Slot that had a sign every ten feet.

Due to the crowds and lack of signage, we moved through the castle rather quickly. I like clocks, so I found the astronomical clock dating back to 1594 to be interesting. The mirrored room was fun too. Mirrored rooms were commonly featured in the innermost sanctum of the king’s suite, usually in connection with the Royal bedchamber. This mirrored room was designed for Frederick IV whose bed chamber, located downstairs, was connected by a spiral staircase. The room next door is where he kept his erotica.

The knights hall displayed the coronation thrones protected by three lions which are in the Royal family crest. This castle displayed bottles of wine dating back to the 18th century, riding regalia, and Crown Jewels. After taking a quick sweep through the treasury where much of this was displayed, we sauntered back to the market to decide on dessert and to people watch. It was a nice break before we headed back to our hotel to relax before meeting my friend Sarah for dinner.

Sarah has been studying to get her MBA in Copenhagen for the last year and is just about finished. I’m so thankful she could take a break from school and show us around her neck of the woods in the meat packing district. We hadn’t made it to this area of town which was only slightly south of our hotel, but very local. We passed by all the sex shops on the way to what looked like a dilapidated blue and white warehouse complex. We walked through the vacant parking lot (there weren’t even very many bikes) to a restaurant called Gorilla (with its sign hanging inside).

If I hadn’t known she is a foodie and her mom a cordon blue chef, I would have had second thoughts about this dreary location, but I knew she wouldn’t steer us wrong. Inside, with nicely decorated pine tables were quite the contrast to the outside. We ended up with the 10 course tasting menu, and they can even cater to food challenges. The ten courses were a surprise and most were quite tasty. They ranged from cold dishes of prosciutto, potato chips, sushi and salad to hot dishes including oxtail pasta, spinach ravioli, brisket sliders and steak. Of course, dessert was also included. It really was a treat and nice way to end our last night in Copenhagen. I didn’t realize Copenhagen was such a location for “foodies”, but it is home to the number one restaurant in the world! ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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