Just north of Copenhagen lies an imposing royal palace complex dating to the early 17th century, built for King Christian IV who ruled over Denmark and Norway at the time. The monarch first demolished his father’s manor house, where he was born, and then built this palatial Dutch Renaissance-style castle on the site. Dubbed Frederiksborg Castle, it remains the largest Renaissance castle in the Nordic region.
In 1859, a major fire destroyed much of the castle, and a national collection and lottery were held to rebuild the structure. Remarkably, the chapel came out of the fire almost intact and is therefore still in its original state. When the restored castle reopened in 1878 it became home to the Museum of National History, which showcases art and artifacts from Danish history within the palace walls. The museum’s portrait collection, the largest in the country, is like taking a stroll through time. Visitors can also explore many restored staterooms inside the castle, including the Great Hall, a grand ballroom above the chapel. These beautiful spaces offer a glimpse of royal life in Denmark centuries ago.
Outside, the castle complex is an architectural gem in a stunning setting, spread across three small islands around the Slotssøen, or “Castle Lake.” While the castle was being built, King Christian IV stayed in an Italian-style “pleasure palace” on the other side of the lake, and when it was demolished in 1720 it was replaced by the beautiful baroque gardens seen today. A visit to the castle would not be complete without a stroll through the impeccably landscaped English gardens. They are full of beautiful flowers and perfectly trimmed hedges, and offer picture-perfect views of the castle and lake.
Know Before You Go
The castle is an easy trip from Copenhagen. It's about a 40-minute drive and there are a number of public car parks within walking distance of the castle. There are regular trains from Copenhagen Central to Hillerod and transport is free with a Copenhagen Card—look for the S-trains and line E, disembark at Hillerod station. From the train station it's a 10- to 15-minute walk to the castle, well-signposted.