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, ...
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 lat ...
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 Da ...
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

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.