Helsinger is only 30 kilometers to the north of Copenhagen. At this place the Eresund Strait is only 4 kilometers wide. It is just there that Danish kings built a strong castle Kronborg. From there they could control the passage of ships and demand a tribute for it.
Apart from historical value of the castle, the castle was may also be interesting for those who love the works of Shakespeare. In his “Hamlet” Helsinger was called Elsinore, and the Elsinore Castle is nothing but Kronborg Castle. It was just under the walls of this castles that the shadow of Hamlet wandered demanding revenge.
Erik of Pomerania was the first king who built a castle there in 1420. Then the castle was called Krogen. Helsingborg, on the opposite (now Swedish) bank of the strait, was also do-main of Danish king. The strait was controlled not only by castle guns, but also by strong fleet that was based there. So, already 6 years after the castle was built Erik introduced so-called Eresund Duty, which was collected from all ships passing through the strait until 1857.
Over 400 years everyone had to pay the tribute to the Danish king, however, there were positive aspects. At those times pirates represented a great danger for sea trade, and Krogen with Danish fleet kept them at a respectful distance from the Baltic Sea. Moreover, there were lighthouses within the strait, helping navigation, so the duty was a kind of compensation for security.
150 years later the castle was rebuilt with a glance to the modern fortification require-ments. Common walls were replaced with a strong system of bastions. The palace itself was also considerably reconstructed, as it no longer met royal demands. The new castle was called Kronborg.
When in Kronborg you should visit the royal chambers to see how Danish kings lived. The interiors survived from the age of baroque, when the palace was restored after the fire of 1635. There you can see the king`s sitting-room and bedroom, queen`s bedroom, ballroom and knight`s hall, the Scottish Suite and many other things.
You may descend to the dungeon of Kronborg located under the north-western bastion of the castle. In peacetime it was a prison for royal prisoners. And during the war there were located the garrison of Helsingborg and stables. The statue of the legendary Danish hero called Holger the Dane is in the dungeon of Kronborg. According to the legend, he has al-ready been sleeping for several centuries, but can awake any moment when Denmark will be in danger.
At certain times the castle`s yard became a stage, where theatre companies from all over the world give their performances of Shakespeare`s “Hamlet”. Indeed, you could hardly im-agine better decorations for the play. And you must admit that the character of Hamlete wasn’t a mere imagination of Shakespeare. The story of prince Amlet, son of one Jutland kings was described by Saxo Grammaticus in his book the «Deed of the Danes» as far back as 12th century, and the plot itself is even older.
If you go to Kronborg from Copenhagen, you should also plan a visit to Frederiksborg Castle located several kilometers of Kronborg in the city of Hillerod.