Frederiksborg Castle


Frederiksborg Castle is a palatial complex in Hillerød, Denmark. It was built as a royal residence for King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway in the early 17th century, replacing an older castle acquired by Frederick II and becoming the largest Renaissance residence in Scandinavia. Situated on three islets in the Slotssøen (castle lake), it is adjoined by a large formal garden in the Baroque style.

After a serious fire in 1859, the castle was rebuilt on the basis of old plans and paintings. Thanks to public support and the brewer J. C. Jacobsen, the building and its apartments were fully restored by 1882 when it was reopened to the public as the Danish Museum of National History. Open throughout the year, the museum contains the largest collection of portrait paintings in Denmark. It also provides visitors with an opportunity to visit several of the castle's state rooms including the restored Valdemar Room and Great Hall as well as the Chapel and the Audience Chamber which were both largely spared by the fire and contain sumptuous decorations.

In 1550, Frederick II who was king of Denmark and Norway from 1559 to 1588, concluded an exchange agreement with Herluf Trolle and his wife whereby Trolle received the manor of Skovkloster in the south of Zealand while the king acquired the Hillerødsholm Estate. As the old building with twin towers was too small for the king, in 1560 he arranged for extensions and additions under Trolle's supervision. At the king's request, Trolle remained on the premises until the work was completed. The king then renamed the estate Frederiksborg (literally Frederik's castle). Interested in deer hunting, he used the castle with the neighbouring Bath House as a royal hunting lodge, centred as it was in the fields and forests he owned in the north of Zealand.

Frederiksborg Castle was the first Danish castle to be built inland. All previous castles had been on the coast or close to ports as the sea had traditionally been the principal means of travel. It was also the first to be built for purely recreational purposes rather than for defence. Its location in Hillerød led to the development of vastly improved roads, initially reserved for the king. Kongevej (King's Way), linking Frederiksborg with Copenhagen, was completed in 1588.

Frederik's son Christian, who was born there became very attached to the castle as a child. Nevertheless, when reigning as Christian IV (1588–1648) he decided to have it completely rebuilt in the Flemish and Dutch Renaissance style (Northern Mannerism). The old building was demolished in 1599 and the Flemish architect Hans van Steenwinckel the Elder was charged with planning the new building. After his death in 1601, his sons Hans and Lorenz completed the assignment. The main four-storey building with its three wings was completed around 1610 but work continued on the Chapel until 1618. The entire complex was finished around 1620, becoming the largest Renaissance building in Scandinavia. The main Renaissance building built by Christian IV was thus completed in under ten years, an astonishing accomplishment at the time, although there were additions until the early 1620s.

In 1659 during the Second Northern War, the castle was captured by the Swedes who took most of its artworks as war reparations. During the Swedish occupation, the queen of Sweden, Hedvig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp, used the palace and hunted in the woods with the English envoy to Sweden.

In the 1850s, the castle was again used as a residence by King Frederick VII. While he was staying there on the night of 16 December 1859, he retired to a room on the third floor to examine his historic artefacts. But as it was a cold night, he asked for a fire to be lit in the room. Unfortunately, the chimney was under repair, causing a fire to break out. As the lake was frozen, the only water available came from the pantry and the kitchen. The fire spread quickly, ruining most of the building within a few hours although the Chapel, the Audience Chamber and the Privy Passage were not seriously damaged. The intricate internal decorations were also destroyed but over 300 paintings were saved and are now displayed in the castle's history museum. Reconstruction was funded by public subscription, with substantial contributions from the king and state, as well as from the prominent philanthropist J. C. Jacobsen of the Carlsberg Brewery. Jacobsen's funding provided for the establishment of the Museum of National History in the castle.

It was formally established on 5 April 1878 and opened to the public in 1882. The restoration and reconstruction work began in 1860 on the basis of old plans from the archives as well as detailed paintings and drawings by Heinrich Hansen. When work was completed under the leadership of the historicist architect Ferdinand Meldahl in 1864, the castle once again took on its original appearance. Jacobsen also donated a copy of the Neptune Fountain (the original by Adrian de Vries having been taken to Sweden) which was placed in the outer courtyard in 1888.


*Location: 35 Km north from Copenhagen.
*Schedule: 10:00-17:00.
*Rates: (All prices are in danish krone).
Ticket for children...$400.
Ticket for adults...$650.
*Best time: Summer.
*Website: Frederiksborg Castle.

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