Copenhagen: Castles Galore

As I did my sightseeing in Copenhagen, it occurred to me that the city had a surplus of castles. There are, it seems, palaces sprinkled everywhere around town, and that’s not even counting the castles you can easily access on a short day trip from Copenhagen. I visited three castles while in city, and what I noticed was that regardless of their origins, today, each had a distinctly different function and feel: at Christiansborg, I experienced the splendor of the Royal Reception Rooms; at Rosenborg, I toured the historical exhibits and ogled the Crown Jewels; at Amalienborg, I caught a glimpse of the royal home today. Because each is different, I found it well worth stopping by all three, as I never felt like I was repeating myself.

Christiansborg was the first castle I visited. Upon arrival, the museum staff ask you to don super stylish, bright blue slipcovers atop your shoes (gotta protect those fancy royal carpets). Once your feet are looking spiffy, you are free to explore Christiansborg’s Royal Reception Rooms. Filled with plush carpets and opulent chandeliers, these rooms are used for official functions and state dinners today.

Christiansborg3

Rosenborg was fascinating to me for one major reason: it feels the most historical of the bunch. At Rosenborg, I toured the royal apartments of Christian IV (who built the castle as his summer house in 1606), saw the royal throne, and visited the Crown Jewels. Staff members were stationed throughout the castle, and I was impressed by how enthusiastic and friendly they were: they kept pointing out little details I would have missed on my own.

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Amalienborg was the only castle I didn’t go inside, and for good reason: it’s the current residence of the royal family. It was also the least ostentatious of the three castles I visited, which I would guess might reflect the low-key nature of the Danish royal family today. Even without going inside, it was fun to poke around and watch the royal guard change. Plus, the palace is located along the path from Nyhavn Harbor to the Little Mermaid statue, so it was a convenient stop, even if it wasn’t quite as exciting as the other two castles.

When I think of European royalty, the image that mostly comes to mind is the British and French monarchies: Henry VIII, Marie Antoinette, the current British royal family, and the like. It’s easy to forget that many other countries around Europe have rich royal histories, too. I can honestly say I knew absolutely nothing about Danish royalty before my visit to Denmark, but luckily the three palaces of Copenhagen provided an interesting introduction.

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