World Heritage #0696 – Kronborg Castle

Last updated Apr 3, 2022 | Published on Dec 30, 2012Denmark, North and Central Europe, World Heritage Sites

Enjoy the view from Kronborg Castle across the strait of Oresund, just like the imaginary Hamlet a few hundred years ago.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes several hundred properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

Official facts

  • Country: Denmark
  • Date of Inscription: 2000
  • Category: Cultural site

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 696:

“Located on a strategically important site commanding the Sund, the stretch of water between Denmark and Sweden, the Royal castle of Kronborg at Helsingør (Elsinore) is of immense symbolic value to the Danish people and played a key role in the history of northern Europe in the 16th-18th centuries. Work began on the construction of this outstanding Renaissance castle in 1574, and its defences were reinforced according to the canons of the period’s military architecture in the late 17th century. It has remained intact to the present day. It is world-renowned as Elsinore, the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.”

My visit

I visited Kronborg Castle (“Kronborg Slot” in Danish) in 2012. I found that it is the location, the fortification and the size of the castle/fortress that make Kronborg outstanding. The interior squared yard and surrounding quarters are fascinating. Be sure to purchase the admission ticket for a guided tour or on-your-own walk in the palace anyway. You should not miss the tapestries, the large banqueting hall, the royal chambers and the chapel.

On our visit the castle had on loan one important object taken as a war bounty by the Swedes in 1658, King Frederick II’s table canopy. Maintenance has been good, and the castle is of an astonishingly good condition today. I would add that it was of a very high quality in the first place. 

If you have read Hamlet, you could try to speculate on what was the result of Shakespeare’s free imagination and what was based on facts. In any case, the world’s most famous words (“To be or not to be…“); are from Kronborg. It is from the world’s most famous play (“Hamlet“), by the world’s most famous playwright (William Shakespeare). I would believe this fact is a major reason why Kronborg receives so many visitors each year.

Read more about my visit

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