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 site for the construction of his palace, to the designs of the architect Hans van Paeschen. It was given the name of Kronborg three years later, when the Flemish architect, Anthonis van Opbergen from Malines, was instructed to carry out a thorough restoration and enlargement of the palace. One of the new elements added at this time was a capacious banqueting hall, which was used for balls and theatrical performances.

On September 1629 Kronborg was devastated by fire, only the walls being left standing. Christian IV immediately commissioned the Surveyor General, Hans van Steenwinckel the Younger, to carry out the restoration of the castle, which largely conformed to its original appearance. Under Frederik III and Christian V large fortifications were built, the outer defensive works were considerably enlarged under Frederik IV, and the castle itself underwent substantial restoration and alteration. In 1785 it passed to the military. It has remained intact to the present day. It is world-renowned as Elsinore, the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

The oldest part of Kronborg Castle consists of the two lower floors on the eastern end of the north wing, which formed part of Erik of Pomerania's Kroge castle. The medieval brickwork here extends well into the present-day third storey. Frederik II's palace was based on this relatively modest structure. The north wing was extended and joined to the old banqueting hall on the west, which was divided up to become the kitchen, brewhouse and guest chambers. To the south a medieval brick house was converted into an imposing royal chapel. The result was a three-sided complex of two-storey buildings; there appear to have been no buildings on the east side, overlooking the Sound, which was closed only by the earlier curtain wall.

With the king's abrupt change of plan in 1577, a magnificent banqueting hall was built on the south, joined to the north wing by a new three-storey suite of rooms with a regular courtyard facade. The lofty Trumpeter's Tower was added on the south side. At the same time a third storey was added to the buildings on the other three sides. Following the disastrous fire of 1629, the castle was reconstructed almost exactly as it had been before. The result is a Renaissance palace that reflects the piecemeal nature of its construction, with only the west wing having a facade designed as an integrated whole. The interior of the castle presents the same heterogeneity of style and layout as the exterior.

The chapel, which was the only building not to have been ravaged by fire in 1629, preserves its original altar, gallery and pews, with fine carvings and painted panels. The north wing, now a three-storey building faced with sandstone, has the royal apartments on its second storey. Although the layout of rooms is much as it was at the time of Frederik II, the decoration dates mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries. The top floor of the east wing was arranged as a long gallery in 1583, to enable the queen to reach the Banqueting Hall in the south wing.

The latter appears originally to have been divided into two levels at its east end, presumably providing a gallery, which has been removed. In its original form the Banqueting Hall had a magnificently carved and gilded ceiling and its walls were hung with tapestries. After the fire of 1629 it was rebuilt, to a greater height but less lavishly decorated. Only 14 of the tapestries, prepared for the north wall and depicting Danish kings, have survived; of these seven are on display at Kronborg, the remainder being in the National Museum in Copenhagen. Other important components of the Kronborg complex are the Little Hall in the west wing, the so-called 'Scottish Suite' in the west wing, and Frederik V's apartments on the top floor of the north wing.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 1574-1585
Category: Castles and fortifications in Denmark
Historical period: Early Modern Denmark (Denmark)

Rating

User Reviews

Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.