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Kronborg Castle - UNESCO World Heritage

Drama-packed Kronborg is one of Northern Europe’s finest Renaissance castles. It is world-famous as the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Only a few places in the world are surrounded by so much drama and history as Kronborg Castle. In Elsinore, with views across to Sweden, you find the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet facing the Sound.

Once the home of kings and queens, a fortified castle with bastions and cannon batteries that controlled the water in the narrowest point between Sweden and Denmark, the castle's history is fascinating. Discover Frederik II's sumptuous ballroom, enjoy the magnificent tapestries and say hello to the mythical figure of Holger the Dane in the basement deep below the castle.

The history of Kronborg 

Kronborg Castle dates back to 1420 where Eric of Pomerania built Krogen, a fortress which was to control the entrance to Oresund and collect the lucrative Sound Dues from the passing ships. The Sound dues played an important role to Elsinore for more than 400 years. While the money went to the King, the trade, in connection with the Sound dues, made the town wealthy and famous all over the world.

Between 1574 and 1585, Frederik II built the sumptuous renaissance castle, Kronborg Castle, as a strong symbol of wealth and power. The Sound dues financed the towers and steeples, copper roofs and sandstone ornaments. In the great period of Kronborg Castle in the late 16th century, sailors, businessmen, diplomats and aristocrats spoke of the magnificent castle and court in Elsinore with its pomp and splendour.

Kronborg Castle was ravaged by a devastating fire in 1629 which only left the chapel intact. Christian IV reconstructed the castle with extensive new Baroque decorations, however, in 1658 another accident hit Kronborg when the Swedes bombed and occupied and took many precious art treasures as booty.

Kronborg was fortified as a fortress with Kroneværket by Christian V in 1690, but since then the castle has virtually not been inhabited by royals. From 1785 until 1923, the castle was used by the military and not until then it was thoroughly restored and returned to the greatness of Frederik II and Christian IV.

Did Shakespeare ever visit Kronborg?

Shakespeare used Kronborg when he wrote his immortal play about the king's son Hamlet and today, in the rest of the world, the castle is better known as Hamlet's Castle. No one knows for sure whether Shakespeare ever visited Kronborg Castle, but he certainly heard the rumors of the decadent lifestyle of the court. It was documented that British players visited Kronborg several times during Shakespeare's time. These days, a Shakespeare Festival takes place at Kronborg Castle every August with open air theatre and the castle as a backdrop.

UNESCO World Heritage

UNESCO inscribes monuments, buildings, cultural landscapes and natural areas as a world heritage when they hold an exceptional value to humanity and need to be protected. Kronborg Castle was entered on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2000. Several other Danish attractions are registered at UNESCO's World Heritage, eg the Par Force Hunting Landscape in North Sealand.

Events in and around Kronborg

After your visit to Kronborg Castle, you could:

Get more information about what you may experience and see in Elsinore