1. Egeskov Castle
The 460 years old Egeskov castle is Europe’s best preserved Renaissance water castle. The name Egeskov means oak forest. According to an old legend, it took an entire forest of oak trees to build the foundation, which gave the name to the castle. The medieval castle, situating in Southern Funen, was build during unstable times. Thus it consists of two long buildings connected by a thick double wall, allowing defenders to abandon one building and continue fighting from the other.
The beautiful castle park at Egeskov was designed in the early 18th century and is still under development. The vast park is divided into different types of gardens. The renaissance garden has fountains, a gravel path and topiary figures. The fuchsia garden, containing 104 different species, is one of the largest in Europe. In addition, there are an English garden, a water garden, an herb garden, a vegetable garden, and a peasant’s garden. Egeskov has been named as ”The best European historic garden 2012” and “One of the 12 most fabulous gardens in the World”.
2. Frederiksborg Castle
Frederiksborg Castle is a palatial complex situated in Hillerød, north of Copenhagen. This impressive Renaissance castle was built in the first decades of the 17th century as a royal residence for the legendary Danish King Christian IV, thus becoming the largest Renaissance residence in Scandinavia. It exhibits the best of Renaissance architecture and craftsmanship found in Europe. Some may find the castle interior a bit exaggerated and grandiose.
Situated on three islets in the castle lake, the castle is joined with a large formal garden in the baroque style. The baroque garden was build at the beginning of the 1720s by the King Frederik IV. The King’s architect laid out the symmetrical garden following the Castle’s main axis with a long perspective extending into the landscape. The uncared garden was restored to its former glory in the 1990s with the cascades and parterre flower-beds.
3. Kronborg Castle
Kronborg Castle and stronghold stands at the narrowest point of the Øresund sound between the coasts of Denmark and Sweden. The renaissance castle of Kronborg is also known as Elsinore – the setting of William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Word Elsinore comes from the anglicized name of the surrounding town of Helsingør. Kronborg castle – one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe – was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list in 2000.
Kronborg castle is also known as the resting place of a Danish national hero. According to a legend linked to Arthurian myth, a Danish king Holger Danske (Holger the Dane) sleeps deep down in the underground passages of the castle’s casemates. He has slept there already for hundreds of years. According to the legend, he will wake up and raise his sword the day when Denmark is threatened by its enemies.
4. Rosenborg Castle
One of the most famous Scandinavian kings, Christian IV build the Rosenborg Castle for himself in the beginning of the 17th-century. An impressing collection of royal treasures and the Danish Crown Jewels are kept in this fairytale castle. The castle is surrounded by the Kongens Have – a park famous of its splendid flower-beds and parterres.
The castle interiors are well preserved through time and feature the 400 years of royal splendor in Denmark. The awe-inspiring Knights’ Hall exhibits the coronation thrones and three life-size silver lions standing guard as well as the huge wall tapestries about the battles between Denmark and Sweden.
5. Amalienborg Castle
Amalienborg – the home of the Danish royal family in Copenhagen – is considered one of the greatest works of Danish rococo architecture. Amalienborg was constructed in the 18th century and over the years various kings and their families have resided in these palaces. Amalienborg is made up of four identical classical palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard. In the middle of the palace square there is an equestrian statue of Amalienborg’s founder, King Frederik V from 1771.
Amalienborg is also known for its Royal Guard. The guards march from the Rosenborg Castle at 11.30 am daily through the streets of Copenhagen ending up at Amalienborg, where they execute the changing of the guard at noon. When Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark takes up residence in Christian IX’s Palace in Amalienborg, a king’s watch and the Danish flag are present.
Between the waterfront and Amalienborg palaces lies the charming two-level garden of Amalienhaven featuring marble sculptures and a central fountain designed by Italian Arnaldo Pomodoro.
3 Tips for visiting the castles
- Avoid the large crowds during summer and travel off season
- Make sure you have enough time – one can spend the hole day discovering one of these castles’ secrest and their vast grounds
- Take the facinating Casemates Tour in Kronborg – but beware of the bats…