The Chapel at Kronborg Castle isn't especially large, and it's not ornate by the standards of other European churches, but it has its charms.
The Chapel at Kronborg Castle isn’t especially large, and it’s not ornate by the standards of other European churches, but it has its charms. It’s also one of the oldest parts of the castle. It dates back to 1582 and survived a major fire in 1629 that claimed much of the rest of the castle.
Kronborg Castle, a former royal palace on a peninsular jutting out into a narrow channel of the Sound between Denmark and Sweden. The castle is in the town of Helsingør, about half an hour north of Copenhagen.
The Chapel’s floor is covered with black and white checkered tiles, and above is a whitewashed arched ceiling. The altar is nice but not overly ornate, and an impressive pipe organ sits at the other end. But it was the sitting area that particularly struck me. From a distance, the pews look like any other wooden pews. But as you get close, you see that each is topped with a painted headpiece. Each is unique, and some are quite striking. They depict various aspects of the royal coat of arms and religious figures and symbols.
The most ornate decorations are around a set of three windows in the upper-floor gallery on the left as you’re looking towards the altar. This is the king’s throne area, built on the orders of King Christian IV.
In the 18th century, the castle was taken over as a military garrison and the chapel was cleared of its furniture and used by the soldiers for fencing and gymnastics training as well as ammunition storage.
In the 1840s, it was returned to its original religious purpose. It has since been used for royal weddings, and from time to time members of the local parish of St. Marie Church hold their own weddings there. If you’re there on the first Sunday of each month or for church festivals you might catch the church bells peeling.
Helsingør is the name of the town you’re aiming for. It sometimes appears Anglicized as Elsinore.
Car. The quicker and simpler route is along the inland north-south highway, the E47. The more scenic route follows the coast and goes through the towns on the way. Either way is roughly 50 kms.
Train. It’s the end of its particular line, and there are trains leaving Copenhagen Central Station (Københavns Hovedbanegård) running every 20 minutes or so.
When the train is running normally, the journey takes about 30-40 minutes. But there has recently been track work that requires a transfer to a shuttle bus for a good chunk of the journey, so you might need to factor in longer if that’s still going on when you go. But even with those bus transfers during track work, the entire journey took me about 1 hour 20 minutes each way. Transferring to the shuttle bus was simple, clearly signed, and there was staff on hand to help with directions (all of them with impeccable English, as is typical with Danes.)
Once you arrive in Helsingør, the castle is immediately adjacent to the small town of Helsingør and is an easy, short walk from the train station. You can’t miss it—you can see the castle from the train station. Just follow the waterline around. It’s a charming but rather sleepy little town, so there’s no real chance of getting lost.
Bus. You can also get there by bus, but given that bus routes, numbers, and schedules change, the best bet is to use this journey planner for up-to-date information.
Helsingør vs Elsinore. It’s the same place. “Elsinore” is how it has often been rendered in English and the version Shakespeare used. But it’s not to be confused with Helsingborg, which is directly across the Sound in Sweden.
Maritime Museum of Denmark. As you head into the castle gates, you’ll also walk by the Maritime Museum of Denmark, which is immediately adjacent to the castle in a repurposed drydock.
Food & Drink. There are some cafes inside the castle defenses, outside the moat. There are many more options a short stroll away in the town.