Castles and fortifications in Denmark

Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg Palace was built in the period 1606-34 as Christian IV’s summerhouse just outside the ramparts of Copenhagen. Christian IV was very fond of the palace and often stayed at the castle when he resided in Copenhagen, and it was here that he died in 1648. After his death, the palace passed to his son King Frederik III, who together with his queen, Sophie Amalie, carried out several types of modernisation. The ...
Founded: 1606-1624 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle is an outstanding example of the Renaissance castle, and one which played a highly significant role in the history of this region of northern Europe. After he began to levy duty on ships passing through the Sound between Sjaelland and Scania around 1425, King Erik of Pomerania built a castle known as Krogen on the site occupied today by Kronborg. It was in 1574 that King Frederik II of Denmark used this s ...
Founded: 1574-1585 | Location: Helsingør, Denmark

Kastellet

Kastellet is one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe. It is constructed in the form of a pentagram with bastions at its corners. Kastellet was continuous with the ring of bastioned ramparts which used to encircle Copenhagen but of which only the ramparts of Christianshavn remain today. King Christian IV of Denmark initiated Kastellet’s construction in 1626 with the building of an advanced post, the ...
Founded: 1626 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Aalborghus

Aalborghus is a half-timbered castle built by King Christian III from 1539 to around 1555 initially as a fortification. Soon it became the seat of the king"s provincial governors in Northern Jutland, and after the introduction of absolutism, became used by the State County of Northern Jutland for taxes. A building had pre-existed at the site before Christian III"s castle. It stood south of the castle and is men ...
Founded: 1539-1555 | Location: Aalborg, Denmark

Egeskov Castle

Egeskov Castle is Europe"s best preserved Renaissance water castle with a history dating to the 14th century. The castle structure was erected by Frands Brockenhuus in 1554. Due to the troubles caused by the civil war known as the Count"s Feud, general civil unrest, and a civil war introducing the Protestant Reformation, most Danish noblemen built their homes as fortifications. The castle is constructed on oaken piles and ...
Founded: 1554 | Location: Kværndrup, Denmark

Koldinghus Castle

Koldinghus Castle was founded in the 13th century and was expanded since with many functions ranging from fortress, royal residency, ruin, museum, and the location of numerous wartime negotiations. The castle was originally founded by Christoffer I in 1268 but the oldest remaining part of buildings is the north side facing the castle lake originally built by king Christoffer III (1441–1448). The western side was later b ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Kolding, Denmark

Hammershus

Hammershus is Northern Europe's largest medieval fortification, situated 74 metres above sea level. Erected in the 13th century, it was long believed that the castle was built as a private residence for the archbishop of Lund. However, new evidence found at the ruins of the castle suggests it was constructed in the beginning of the century as a royal residence for Valdemar II of Denmark and a base for the Danish crusades, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Allinge, Denmark

Sønderborg Castle

Sønderborg Castle history began probably as a fortified tower constructed by Valdemar the Great in 1158. The castle was built to provide protection against attacks by the Wends and was part of a larger system of fortifications. Over the centuries, the castle has gradually been enlarged and rebuilt. In the years following construction of Valdemar's fortified tower, an important struggle developed between the Danish king a ...
Founded: 1350 | Location: Sønderborg, Denmark

Ertholmene Fortress

The first permanent inhabitation in Ertholmene, generally called Christiansø, was the result of the Danish-Swedish conflicts in the late 17th century. As Denmark needed a naval base in the central Baltic Sea, a fort was built on Christiansø and Frederiksø in 1684 which served as an outpost for the Danish Navy until 1855. The islands" external appearance has changed very little in over 300 years. ...
Founded: 1684 | Location: Christiansø, Denmark

Odense Castle

Towards the end of his reign, King Frederik IV of Denmark wished for the same degree of comfort in provincial castles as he enjoyed in Copenhagen. In 1720 a contract was signed for alterations to be made to Odensegård manor. The gardener of Rosenborg Palace, J.C.Krieger, was entrusted with the work. From his studies in England and the Netherlands, he had learnt about the Dutch Baroque style.A new main wing was added ...
Founded: 1721 | Location: Odense, Denmark

Gram Castle

The east wing of Gram Castle was built in the beginning of the 16th century. The builder is unknown, but was probably one of the Reventlow family, who owned Gram from about the middle of the 15th century until 1560. The south wing was built by the Commander Hans Schack (1609 - 1676) a few years after he bought the manor in 1664. The west wing of the manor was built 1752 by Countess Anna Sophie Schack (1689 - 1760). Today ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Gram, Denmark

Spøttrup Castle

Spøttrup Castle is the best preserved medieval castles in Denmark. The first record of the castle dates from 1404 when it was moved to the possession of Viborg bishop. Bishops built the castle in the 1400s and it was restored in 1525. It consisted of square form castle and two surrounding moats with a drawbridge. Skipper Clement, leader of the peasant rebellion, attacked to the castle during the so-called Count&qu ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Spøttrup, Denmark

Voergaard Castle

Voergaard Castle is open to the public and houses a significant art collection. Voergaard's recorded history goes back to 1481. At the outbreak of the Count's Feud it was owned by Stygge Krumpen, Bishop of Børglum, taken by Skipper Clement's army of peasants and then, after the Reformation, confiscated by the Crown in 1536. In 1578, King Frederick II ceded the property to Karen Krabbe in exchange for Nygaard, an estate l ...
Founded: 1520-1588 | Location: Dronninglund, Denmark

Nørre Vosborg Castle

Niels Bugge was one of the first known owners of the Nørre Vosborg manor in the 14th century. In 1532 a huge storm surge enveloped and demolished the buildings, which were not rebuilt on the same site. Knud Gyldenstjerne moved Nørre Vosborg inland to its present, safer position. The estate was subsequently owned by the Linde Leths (1707–1778) and the Tangs (1783-1946), the latter family hosting many prominent guests a ...
Founded: 1552 | Location: Vemb, Denmark

Nyborg Castle

Nyborg Castle was first mentioned in 1193, but the town itself was not mentioned before the year 1202. There must have been wooden or half-timbered buildings inside the walls, but we have not, as yet, found traces of them. The fortress was built on a small hill. Archaeological excavations have shown that the first moat around the fortress was a dry moat. In the first half of the 1200's, a palace was built along the wester ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Nyborg, Denmark

Dragsholm Castle

Dragsholm Castle is one of the oldest secular buildings in Denmark. The original castle was built around 1215 by the Bishop of Roskilde. During the Middle Ages, the building was modified from the original palace to a fortified castle. During the Count"s Feud (1534–36) it was so strong that it was the only castle on Zealand to withstand the armies of Count Christoffer. In connection with the Reformation, Dragsh ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Hørve, Denmark

Vallø Castle

Vallø traces its history back to the 14th century. From 1554 to 1651 it was divided into two separate estates, West Vallø and East Vallø. In 1708 Vallø was acquired by King Frederick IV who passed it on to Anne Sophie Reventlow. In 1731 King Christian VI passed the property on to Queen Sophia Magdalene who in 1737 founded the Noble Vallø Foundation for unmarried daughters. Vallø ...
Founded: 1580 | Location: Køge, Denmark

Gavnø Castle

The first historical mention of Gavnø is in King Valdemar"s census book from 1231 where a 'house on Gavnø' is mentioned. The house was apparently a castle built to defend Denmark"s western coasts. In the 15th century, Queen Margaret I opened St Agnes" Priory there, catering for nuns from aristocratic families. The chapel can still be seen in the castle"s southern wing although i ...
Founded: 1737 | Location: Næstved, Denmark

Fredericia Fortress

Fredericia was established as a fortress town in 1650. On the land side, the town was laid out in circular form with nine large moated bastions. On the waterfront, the town had a somewhat weaker fortification line together with a citadel as its last defence. There is every indication that Fredericia was planned as a fortress town. The streets are regular and entirely perpendicular. Fredericia was the only town in Denmark ...
Founded: 1650 | Location: Fredericia, Denmark

Hindsgavl Castle

The history of Hindsgavl Castle dates back to the 12th century, and the name Hindsgavl was mentioned for the first time in the Danish register of manors and estates by King Valdemar II in 1231. Valdemar IV of Denmark besieged the castle with no luck in 1358. The current castle was built in the late 18th century. Today Hindsgavl is a conference center.
Founded: 18th century | Location: Middelfart, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.

Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.

Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.

In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.

The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.

The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.