Kronborg Slot - History and Facts | History Hit

Kronborg Slot

Elsinore, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

Kronborg Slot is a fifteenth century UNESCO-listed castle in Helsingør, Denmark and the setting for Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet’.

Peta Stamper

18 May 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Kronborg Slot

Kronborg Slot is a castle and stronghold in Helsingør, Denmark, listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and one of the most important Renaissance castles in northern Europe. The castle, which has undergone a series of changes over the centuries, has also risen to fame as the fictional ‘Elsinore’, the anglicised name for Helsingør, from William Shakespeare’s play, ‘Hamlet’.

Open to the public, Kronborg Slot site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Denmark.

Kronborg Slot history

The first incarnation of Kronborg Slot was constructed in the 1420’s by Erik of Pomerania on the northeastern tip of Zealand island. Known as Krogen or “the Hook”, the castle was a heavily fortified structure placed strategically to command one of the few entrances to the Baltic Sea.

Over time, Kronborg Slot was renovated by its successive royal owners, notably Frederik II who transformed the medieval fortress into an elaborate Renaissance masterpiece. Resplendent with towers, sculptures, columns and an imposing spire, Frederik used Kronborg Slot as a symbol of his own power.

Burned down in 1629, Kronborg Slot was rebuilt by Christian IV. However, it was shortly after ravaged by Swedish forces in 1658 who took many valuables as war booty. The castle served as a royal residence until around 1690 and then as an 18th century army barracks. The Swedish Army left Kronborg Slot in 1923, after which is was renovated and opened to the public.

Kronborg Slot today

Today, restored to its original glory as it would have looked in the 16th and 17th centuries, Kronborg Slot is now open to the public. Inside its opulent walls, visitors can view its incredibly long 16th century Great Hall as well as the statue of and exhibition about Viking chief Holger Dansk.

The castle also houses a Maritime Museum and free guided tours are available in both Danish and English: for the Casemates, these take place at 11:00am and 3:00pm and for the Royal Apartments, 11:30am and 1:30pm.

Occasionally, actors placed throughout Kronborg Slot also bring Shakespeare’s play to life in the dimly lit fortress.

Getting to Kronborg Slot

Hire a car and drive the scenic coastal path Gammel strand vej to Helsingør, only 40 minutes north of Copenhagen. Otherwise, get the 029 train from Copenhagen Central Station to Helsingør and walk about 10 minutes to Kronborg Slot.

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Denmark Historic Sites

Explore the Viking past at Jelling or visit the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet at Kronborg Castle. Denmark's historic sites are wide-ranging and beguiling.