Medieval castles in Denmark

Tårnborg Castle Ruins

Tårnborg Castle was a royal medieval castle. It consisted of a central tower of 8m x 8m, surrounded by a square outer wall. An excavation in the castle courtyard in 1894 also revealed the remains of three small houses. The castle stood from about 1231 up to the last part of the 14th century when a new castle in Korsør took over Tårnborg"s role. From written sources we know that the castle was captu ...
Founded: 1231 | Location: Korsør, Denmark

Lilleborg Castle Ruins

Lilleborg is a ruined castle in the Almindingen forest. The castle was probably built in the middle of the 12th century as a royal fortress. It appears to have replaced the much larger fortress of Gamleborg which was only 700 metres away. The move could be explained by the fact that in 1149, three-fourths of Bornholm had been surrendered to Eskil, archbishop of Lund. As a result, King Sweyn III wanted to establish his own ...
Founded: c. 1149 | Location: Aakirkeby, Denmark

Jungshoved Castle Ruins

The royal castle of Jungshoved was mentioned in 1231. The annexed church dates from the same period. The castle is thought to have been built as early as in the 1100s as part of King Valdemar I"s coastal defences against the Wends (Baltic Slavs). The castle is strategically located at the mouth of Skibbinge Cove. Jungshoved may also have been implicated in the monarch"s control of the herring market at Falsterbo ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Praesto, Denmark

Dronningholm Castle Ruins

Dronningholm Castle construction was started by Valdemar the Great (died in 1182) and completed around 1200 by Valdemar II of Denmark (Valdemar Victorious). It was a solid castle construction with moats and drawbridge. The castle was one of the largest in the country, but burned down in 1525. According to the legend queen Dagmar got the castle as a morning gift.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Frederiksværk, Denmark

Riberhus Castle Ruins

During excavations at Slotsbanken, proof was found that people had resided there in the 10th century. However, this may not have been in connection with a castle or other building, but historical sources indicate that a castle was situated here in the early 1200s. It was a royal castle with a bailiff, who looked after the King’s interests in the area, collecting taxes from the townsfolk. The bailiff, later called a ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ribe, Denmark

Ravnsborg Castle Ruins

Ravnsborg Castle was built in around 1330 by John III, Count of Holstein-Plön. In 1347 the castle was conquered by Valdemar IV. It was demolished in 1510. The 100m long and 50m wide castle was originally on an island and fortified with brick walls.
Founded: 1330 | Location: Torrig, Denmark

Bjørnkaer Castle Ruins

Bjørnkær is a 14th century castle mound consisting of two square castle embankments surrounded by a moat and an outer embankment. During excavations in the 1930s, the foundations of a small building were found on the eastern castle embankment. Inside, the building measures about 4.5 m x 6.5 m, and the remains of the entrance door can be seen in the west wall. The other walls have traces of windows. The remain ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Odder, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.

Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.

In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.

In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.

Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.