Frederiksborg Castle

The Frederiksborg Castle is the largest Renaissance slot in Scandinavia and is often called the Nordic Versailles. Come visit the birthplace and dream of Denmark’s longest reigning monarch who built this beautiful palace near Hillerød in the early 17th century.

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1 National History Museum at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

Welcome to Frederiksborg Castle! Most of this stunning, quadrangular-shaped palace was constructed during the early 17th century on three islets in the town of Hillerød. It is the finest and largest example of Renaissance architecture in Scandinavia and is frequently called the Nordic Versailles. Since being reconstructed in the late 19th century, it is home to the Museum of National History. Inside you will find an extensive collection of portraits of royalty, soldiers, politicians and the cultural elite that span centuries. Also on display are ornate rooms with period furnishings, tapestries and artifacts. The museum and the restoration were funded by the Carlsberg Foundation. It was established by J. C. Jacobsen, the founder of the Carlsberg brewery.

Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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2 Brief History of Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

In 1275, a large manor called Hillerødsholm was built on an islet surrounded by a marsh in North Zealand. When King Frederick II of Denmark purchased it in 1560 as a seasonal residence and hunting lodge, he renamed it Frederiksborg. His son, Christian IV, commissioned Hans and Lorenz van Steenwinckel, to enlarge it into this Dutch Renaissance castle in the early 17th century. Much of it was destroyed by fire in 1859 and then rebuilt with money donated by the Carlsberg Foundation and other fundraising efforts. In 1878, it became the home of the Det Nationalhistoriske Museum.

Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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3 Castle Lake Surrounding Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

Prior to the late 13th century, this waterway was a swampy marshland. In 1560, the area was dredged to form a lake now called Castle Lake. It acted as a moat around the three islets that became the foundation for building Frederiksborg Castle. A few years ago, the town of Hillerød created Slotsøen which is a 1.4 mile walking path around the circumference of the citadel. This is an excellent way to appreciate Frederiksborg Slot’s beauty from every angle.

Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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4 Southern Entrance to Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

The southern entrance to Frederiksborg Castle builds anticipation with every step. First you walk across a bridge and through the Town Gate. This cobblestone street named Staldgaden brings you passed the Hussar Stables on the right and the Royal or King’s Stables on the left. Directly ahead is one of two Frederik II’s Round Towers and the Christian VI’s Gateway which is dated 1736. Next is the S-bridge that leads to the Gatehouse. You have arrived! Now stop to marvel at the spectacular main castle that stands before you on the middle islet.

Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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5 Coat of Arms at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

Above the Gatehouse at the Frederiksborg Castle is a sandstone relief of the Danish Coat of Arms. It features three passant lions that are walking towards the left with an extended right paw. They are surrounded by nine hearts which are apparently sea leaves called søblades. On top is the royal crown. Flanking the emblem are two lions with their paw on an orb. This was a popular image among royalty to symbolize their powerful rule. These sculptures are similar to the Medici Lions in Italy that date back to the late 16th century.

Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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6 Architectural Details of Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

It is a delightful challenge for your eyes to drink in all of the magnificent details of the Frederiksborg Castle. The slot’s red brick façade is adorned with a clock tower, copper-crowned spires plus mythological and Renaissance sculptures. In the foreground is a reproduction of the Neptune Fountain. The original was installed in 1620 but then seized by Swedish soldiers in 1659 during the Second Northern War. Jacob Christian Jacobsen, the founder of Carlsberg brewery, paid for the fountain to be recreated in 1888.

Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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7 Neptune Fountain at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

This fountain in the inner courtyard of the Frederiksborg Castle was created in 1620 to demonstrate King Christian IV’s command of the waters of Denmark and Norway. The bronze figure on top is Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. In the pedestal niches are deities of rivers, springs and water. They are surrounded by naiads who are water nymphs from Greek mythology. Along the marble basin are mermen shown blowing twisted conch shells. They are tritons, the messengers of the sea.

Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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8 Sculptures in Arcade at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

This is half of the Terrace Wing at Frederiksborg Castle that was built in 1609. There are a dozen sculptures beneath the balustrade and inside of the niches formed by the arcade. The statues in this gallery feature images from astrology and mythology. For example, on the left is Neptune who was the Roman deity of freshwater, the sea, hurricanes and earthquakes. Elsewhere around the façade are artistic tributes to Roman emperors like Julies Caesar plus Danish legends.

Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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9 Clock Tower at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

This clock tower stands above the chapel wing of the Frederiksborg Castle. It took nine years to build, from 1608 until 1617, as part of the second phase of the slot’s construction. The Chapel of Orders is also called the Palace Church. It was the venue for the coronation of the Danish Absolute Monarchs from 1671 until 1840. This section of the castle is one of the few that survived the 1859 fire. It is now part of the museum with a display of coats of arms but is also used as a parish church.

Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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10 Portal Relief on Terrace Wing at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

This splendid relief forms the top of the Terrace Wing portal which leads from the courtyard and the Neptune Fountain towards the Royal Wing of the Frederiksborg Castle. In the center is the monogram C4 which stands for Christian IV, the King of Denmark and Norway. On the left is his statue and opposite it is Anne Catherine of Brandenburg who was his queen from 1597 until 1612. Also notice the two unicorns around the coat of arms. Their significance is that, according to legend, the Throne Chair of Denmark is constructed from the horn of unicorns.

Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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11 Christian IV Legacy at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

Christian IV was the oldest son of Frederick II. He was born here in Frederiksborg in 1577, assumed the throne when he was 11 years old and was crowned eight years later. His rule lasted 59 years, from 1588 until 1648, which is the longest reign in Denmark’s history. While the King of Denmark and Norway, Christian Firtal not only built this magnificent Frederiksborg Castle but also several other grand structures in Denmark. His dream was to make the country an international trading center and a superpower with a dominant navy and army. Although he is credited with sweeping reforms and a growing prosperity, his aspirations eventually led to overspending, several wars and economic decline.

Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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