The largest Renaissance edifice in the Nordic region, Frederiksborg Castle was built by King Christian IV at the start of the 17th century to accentuate and strengthen his position as a powerful European monarch. The castle is named after King Christian IV’s father, King Frederik II, who built the first Frederiksborg Castle. His hugely ambitious son tore down the castle, replacing it with the richly ornamented and decorative Renaissance castle we know today. The castle has survived some turbulent events, including a major fire in 1859 that razed large parts of the interior, leaving only the thick walls standing in some places. Since the fire, the royal family has not used the castle as a residence, which is now a museum of national history.
Esrum Abbey & Millyard
Esrum Abbey is an old Cistercian Abbey located in a landscape of forests and meadows. The abbey was consecrated to the Virgin Mary in 1151. Esrum Abbey became the mother house for a number of other Cistercian foundations in Northern Europe. After the Reformation, King Frederik II took possession of the abbey. Among other things, he established Denmark’s first royal stud farm on the site. Around 1600, King Christian IV built a water mill south of the abbey. The present mill was built in the mid-1800s. From the Millyard there are several beautiful routes heading down towards Esrum Lake and into Gribskov.
Kronborg was built as a fortification to control the Sound tolls. However, Kronborg is not only an imposing fortress, but also a spectacular Renaissance castle. Its walls have witnessed myriad historic events – it was here, for example, that Queen Caroline Mathilde was imprisoned after her affair with Struensee, the king’s physician. Kronborg is undeniably a site of immense cultural value, so much so that it was added to UNESCO’s world heritage list in 2000. Kronborg is also renowned worldwide as the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Fredensborg Palace Gardens
Fredensborg Palace Gardens are some of Denmark’s most grandiose gardens. Avenues extend from the palace in a star formation, with the palace at the centre, symbolising the power of the King as the absolute monarch. The gardens are characteristic of the pompous baroque style known from Versailles outside Paris. The romantic style that inspired the partial conversion of the palace gardens in 1833-1850 is clearly visible in the forested areas, giving the gardens a more natural feeling. Most of the avenues were removed during that renovation, but they have since been recreated so you can again enjoy the view all the way to Esrum Lake.