Helsingør and the Kronborg Slot
Jul 19, 2014
|Another hot day.
Today we headed north to Helsingør to visit the World Heritage site of Kronborg Slot. The massive castle sits overlooking the narrowest part of the Øresund a between Denmark and Sweden. The water is only 4km wide at this point
The original castle was built on the site around 1420 by the Danish King Eric VII and acted as a toll house. The king insisted on the payment by cargo ships of “sound dues” by all ships wishing to enter or leave the Baltic Sea passing through the Øresund. At the time he controlled both sides of the strait. . The “sound dues” generated plenty of cash and by 1585 King Frederik II started the construction of an enlarged castle. Just as the construction was completed in 1629 a fire ravaged the castle leaving nothing but the outer walls. King Christian IV rebuilt the castle preserving the earlier Renaissance style but adding his own baroque touches. In order to finance the rebuild of the castle the ‘sound dues” were doubled. A further disaster happened during the Danish-Swedish wars when the castle was occupied and looted by the Swedes between 1658 and 1160.
The castle was given up by the royals and it became a barracks between 1785 and 1924 then a museum to this present day.
A little explanation about “Sound dues” as obtained from the museum:
“The captain of every ship sailing through the strait had to state the value of ship's cargo. Money that had to be paid to the King of Denmark was then calculated depending on the value of the cargo. The king had the right to buy the cargo for the price the ship's captain stated. This policy prevented pressure by the Americans.” captains from stating prices that were too low. The Sound Dues were abolished in 1857 due to
Denmark was compensated by other countries for the loss of income based on prior shipping through the Øresund. However the last compensation amount was paid by Brazil in 2003. Hope they paid the interest as well!
The castle also had an English connection as it was made famous as Elsinore Castle in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
There was two parts of the castle which were fascinating. Firstly the chapel which was the only part of the castle that escaped the fire in 1629 so gave a good impression of the castle’s original appearance. The second were the casements or the dark, low ceiling dungeons of the castle that served as storerooms and soldiers quarters during their history. Surprisingly in the casements there is a statue of the Viking Chief Holgar Danske (Ogier the Dane) who, legends says, will wake and come to Denmark’s aid in its hour of need.
After exploring the castle we walked in the hot sunshine into the town. A typical Danish town but did have a couple of nice churches one with a cloister and some interesting fresco and noble men church boxes.
The heat was getting too much so we headed back to base.