To be or not to be? …Do I even have to say it? Because this is the home for it – the last post in our Helsingor Trifecta (the first was on Helsingor itself, and the second on the Maritime Museum), this slot of slots is the one that everyone wants to see when they come visit. We’ve actually been a number of times but each trip has managed to be a little different each time around.
Aside from being the castle rumored to inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Kronborg Castle also has a rich history here in Denmark. It was, after all, where the taxman liveth, and they do love some taxes here in Denmark.
The castle is situated right at the tip of Zealand, at the point closest to Sweden, which is just about 4km away across the water (brisk swim, anyone?). Ships were charged fees to sail through (or charged a portion of their cargo) to cross, under threat of being bombarded by the many canons facing the water (which incidentally, still work. Apparently they shoot them off when there is a birth in the royal family according to the guide). That lasted until about 1857 when an American ship decided it was rubbish and sailed on through without paying and that was the end of that (Americans are generally less excited about taxes.)
I didn’t get too many pictures of the inside as there were toddlers on the loose that we were trying to wrangle before they got a little too close to age-old tapestries, but there are ballrooms and bedrooms and all the usual royal fanfare to view. Though I have to say in my mind, I couldn’t help thinking how cold and drafty that place must have been as a full time residence. The casemates below provide a fun but spooky walk through the darker side. If you do have kiddies in tow, make sure you stick it out to the end of the second floor, there’s a big lego room waiting to reward them.
I’ve also taken my wheelchair bound grandmother here – it’s not the easiest and the castle itself doesn’t have any accommodation for mobility issues. You can however, take wheelchairs into the chapel, and if you ask nicely, they can let you into part of the casemates through a separate entrance, though it’s a bit of a bumpy ride.
The best part of the castle though are the lawns around the ramparts and moats – kids love it (though if you are in any way nervous about water, this might not be for you). This time around we saw a family of baby swans, but they sometimes also have ropes and such laid out for kids to play around with. A Hansen’s Eis on a sunny day is a nice reward for proper castle-like behavior, while everyone else grabs some lunch at the cafe.
The sunny days are the best as you can imagine, but regardless of weather, bring a few layers – the portion on the water can get pretty windy regardless. It helps to have a little bit of history before going, which can be found on the Krongborg Castle website, and the tours can be nice too – at least the highlights one – the guides do a nice job of trying to bring a bit of life into these wall. And bring a copy of Hamlet, you might just be inspired to read a page or two…