travel :: Wednesday, March 18, 2009
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK :: When my dad was stationed in Germany, I loved visiting castles. I was only four or five at the time, but I vividly remember the fairytale scenes of old masonry walls, high towers, heavy timber bridges across moats, cobblestoned courtyards, and the gleaming suits of armor and weaponry on display. Since leaving Germany nearly 30 years ago, I haven't set foot in another castle... Until today!
Needless to say, I was initially excited to visit Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen. Upon arriving, however, I was just a little disappointed that renaissance Rosenborg bears little resemblance to the medieval fortresses of my childhood memory. There are no curtain walls, portcullis gates, crenellated parapets, or arrow slots for defense. There is a moat, but it seems to be more scenic than practical.
King Christian IV originally built Rosenborg Castle in 1606 as a summer residence, but he grew to love and prefer Rosenborg over the other royal residences and lived there exclusively until his death in 1648. A couple other monarchs lived in the castle as well, but by the time Federicksborg Castle was completed in 1699, Rosenborg had become a museum and storage facility for the royals.
Today, the castle is open to the public and is chock-full of Danish relics, including the country's Crown Jewels and Regalia. Most of the rooms are decorated with original pieces, just as they would have been 400 years ago. The most impressive room is the Knights' Hall, spanning the entire length of the building on the uppermost floor. Large, detailed tapestries and paintings in the ceiling chronicle Denmark's history. At either end of the hall are the coronation chairs and thrones, guarded by three, life-sized, silver lions.
I had a lot of fun imagining what life was like for the old monarchs as I marveled at their toys. Throughout my tour of the castle, one thought repeated in my head over and over again: It must be good to be king!
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