Kronborg Castle’s Royal Apartments

The Royal Apartments at the 16th-century Kronborg Castle are where King Frederick II and his young queen, Sophie, lived and worked.

The Royal Apartments at the 16th-century Kronborg Castle are where King Frederick II and his very young queen, Sophie, lived and worked. (Sophie was 14 years old when they married.)

As you walk through them when you visit Kronborg Castle today you’re seeing rooms that have been reconstructed to appear much as they would have appeared at the time. Much of the furniture consists of either reconstructions or were acquired much later than Frederick II’s time.

Decorating various places around the castle you can find a monogrammed shield with the letters F and S. It was a bit of playfulness on Frederick II’s part. It can either be interpreted to stand for Fredericus Secundus (Frederick II) or Frederick and Sophie.

As you wander through the Royal Apartments, you’ll move through a number of rooms that were used for specific purposes.

Chancellery. This smallish room was a government office handling a full range of bureaucratic tasks that came with governing Denmark. There are large cabinets that held the king’s correspondence. (It’s believed that Frederick II was probably dyslexic, so there are few letters surviving in his hand. Most were dictated.) Other cabinets and chests held archives of anything form receipts to royal edicts to laws and proclamations.

Chancellery.

Library. Known for his patronage of letters and learning, Frederick II’s library was stocked with a wide variety of literature from the time, with topics ranging from science to history to art to warfare.

The Royal Library next to the King’s Chamber.

King’s Chamber. Despite the name, this wasn’t his bedroom. It’s one of the larger rooms in the Royal Apartments and relatively airy. It was used for meetings and dinners, both for pleasure and government business. The windows of this room look down at both the castle’s main gate as well as out over the Sound.

The King’s Chamber.

There are several paintings embedded into the ceiling depicting members of the royal family.

One doorway is particularly decorated. It has a prominent gold monogram of C4, for Charles IV, the son of Frederick II and Sophie.

King’s and Queen’s Bedrooms. You can’t help notice how small these rooms are. That’s not a sign of austerity of humility. Far from it. Small rooms are much easier to heat–this is a cold part of the world, after all–and contrast to the bedrooms of most people of the time where multiple people shared a bed so as to maximize natural warmth. Even having a dedicated room for sleeping was itself a sign of wealth at the time.

King’s Bedroom in the Royal Apartment.

Queen’s Bedroom at Kronborg Castle at Helsingor, Denmark / Kronborg Castle, Helsingør, Denmark / 56°2’21” N 12°37’20” E. © David Coleman / havecamerawilltravel.com

Queen’s Chamber. Mirroring the King’s Chamber on the opposite end of the bedrooms, the Queen’s Chamber was where she spent much of the day with guests and her ladies in waiting.

Queen’s Gallery. This connects the Queen’s Chamber with the Ballroom and Chapel. Doorways off the hall led to rooms of some of the Queen’s senior staff.

The Gallery doesn’t look particularly special today, but originally the floor was decorated with a painted pattern of indigo and yellow and red wool covered the walls.[^fn1]

Ballroom. The longest ballroom in northern Europe (at 62 meters long), this was the epicenter of royal entertainment. It wasn’t just for dancing; it was also used for extraordinarily lengthy banquets. The walls were decorated with paintings and tapestries; most of the tapestries have been moved out and some are displayed separately now.

Originally, the ceiling was decorated with wood carving. Today the ceiling is of plainer timber.

A large hall inside the castle.

King’s Tapestries. These are among Kronborg’s most famous draws. The collection of 43 large tapestries depict Denmark’s history and royal lineage. They were commissioned by Frederick II in a fit of pique at a similar collection that his rival, Eric XIV of Sweden, had commission to tell Swedish history.

Tapestries at Kronborg Castle at Helsingor, Denmark / Kronborg Castle, Helsingør, Denmark / 56°2’20” N 12°37’17” E. © David Coleman / havecamerawilltravel.com

Tapestries.

Duchess of Mecklenburg’s Chamber. Part of the North Wing of the castle, this large room–or really one big room and some smaller ones–was used by Frederick II’s mother-in-law.

Duchess of Mecklenburg’s Chamber.

A view out of the Sound from a small room adjacent to the Duchess of Mecklenburg’s Chamber.

Duchess of Mecklenburg’s Chamber.

More Photos of Royal Apartments at Kronborg Castle

Part of the royal quarters used by King Frederik II and his queen, Sophie, in the late-16th century.

A bedroom in the royal suite.

The King’s Library in the Royal Apartment of Kronborg Castle, a suite of rooms on the first floor that served as the King’s and Queen’s living and working quarters.

How to Get to Kronborg Castle

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.

What to Know Before You Go to Kronborg Castle

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 within the castle fortifications and many more options a short walk away in the town.

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