As I crossed the cobblestone courtyard, ducked through the small dark and narrow passageways, climbed the steep and sagging brick stairwells, marveled at the untouched chapel, watched the swans swim around the castle moat, heard my voice echo in the tremendous ballroom, looked out the windows to see the cannons pointed towards the coastline of Sweden – I was imagining Hamlets plight. Envisioning the ghost of his father, eavesdropping, deceit, secrets, murderous plots, revenge, and a death stained fencing match. Shakespeare may or may have not ever been to the Kronborg Castle (known as Elsinor), but he was inspired by it nonetheless, and framed the most famous play in history within these walls.
Exploring the underbelly of the castle, originally built as a stronghold fortress in 1420.
The Kronborg castle stands at the narrowest distance between Denmark and Sweden, (4 km, 2.5 miles).
In the mid 1500’s the king hired architectures to turn the fortress into a magnificent and unique castle, unrivaled by any other. Not only did they add Renaissance touches, but also added a full story, making it the tallest castle of the time.
During a night in September 1629 a fire blazed through the castle. The chapel was the only place untouched and undestroyed. Once used as a storage area, and a fencing area, the furniture of the chapel was removed and stored, now the original pieces again stand within the original walls.
In 1658 the castle was taken by the Swedish – looting much of its artwork and elaborate courtyard fountain.
In 1816, two hundred years after Shakespeare’s death, Hamlet was performed at the Kronborg castle for the first time ever. The castle soldiers played the parts, one of which quit his military career to become a well known Danish actor. One hundred years later it was performed again. Since then it has become an annual tradition. (We missed the performance by one day!)
Looking forward to going back to further explore and be inspired.