Since Matt and I had a few days to explore Copenhagen on our own, we decided to take a more niche tour when it came time to schedule one. Our day included a tour of Christiansborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle, and a viewing of the Danish crown jewels. We were thoroughly impressed by our guide, the sites, the art, and the Danes as a whole. By the end of the day, we were ready to fill out immigration paperwork, and I hope that after reading about our experience that you’ll be booking a flight to see it for yourself. Our first stop was Christiansborg Palace, the home of the Queen’s office, and my second favorite room in the world: the Danish Queen’s Library. (My favorite room in the world being the Amber Room- read more about that trip here
Christiansborg Palace is home to the three Danish branches of government that Americans are familiar with: the executive, judicial, and legislative branches, and it is only building in the world that houses all three branches of a country’s government. Although the palace is an operating government building that serves as an office for the Danish Prime Minister, Supreme Court, Parliament, and the Danish Queen, it is owned and operated by the state and remains open to the public as a museum with the exception of when The Queen is in her office. There is even a restaurant on top of the palace with one of the best views of Copenhagen!
Matt and I actually stumbled upon the back entrance of the palace and the marble bridge and pavilions on our first night in Copenhagen without realizing it. We were shocked by the lack of security around the palace, but our guide clarified that Denmark is one of the safest countries in the world and that the Danes fully expect that their fellow citizens will protect one another.
The Danish Crown Prince Frederik actually frequently runs marathons without any security at all. When asked about his lack of body guards, he explained that he believes that the Danish people will protect him if need be. It was a very different attitude compared to the airport security we’re required to go through to attend a sporting event or concert in the US.
The back of Christiansborg Palace and the riding grounds.
A bit of history:
The Christiansborg Palace that exists today is actually the 5th Danish palace to stand on the property. Absalon’s Castle, built in 1167, originally stood in this very place. The palace was destroyed by stonemasons in 1369, and was replaced by Copenhagen Castle, which was rebuilt multiple times. Eventually, the castle became so heavy that the walls began to crumble, and Danish King Christian VI decided to build an entirely new palace.
Thus, began the construction of the First Christiansborg Palace. At the time of its completion in 1745, the palace was the largest in Europe. Unfortunately, the baroque palace and church were destroyed by a fire, and Christian Frederik Hansen was commissioned to rebuild the palace, this time with architectural inspiration by the French Empire. The Second Christiansborg Palace was completed in 1828, but only one monarch ever lived in the palace. Denmark became a constitutional monarchy in 1849, and the palace became the home of the Danish Parliament before a second fire destroyed the palace in 1884, requiring a third reconstruction of the palace.
For the third reconstruction, Denmark held an architectural competition to decide who would design the third (and current) Christiansborg Palace. During the construction of the Third Christiansborg palace, the ruins of Absalon’s Castle and Copenhagen castle were found, and you can now view the exhibition of these Middle Age ruins underneath Christiansborg Palace.
This class foyer and staircase is the first room you enter on your tour
Can you believe how magnificent the Danish Queen’s library is?! I felt like Princess Belle walking into this room.
The Throne Room
Every corner of this palace was breathtaking, but my favorite part about the tour was the Queen’s tapestries. These tapestries quickly became my new favorite piece of art, and I was fascinated not only with the history that each piece represented, but the attention to detail on every square inch of the tapestries.
The 11 tapestries were presented to the Queen Margrethe II on her 50th birthday, and each represents a piece of over a thousand years of Danish and world history. Let me say this: If you do nothing else in Copenhagen, you must see these tapestries.
I loved this one in particular for the amount of science and medicine featured in the details. You can notice illustrations of DNA replication, cellular division, and other physiological and biochemical processes upon closer examination of the art.
This tapestry is meant to represent the 20th century, which features illustrations of world leaders, The Beatles, the Queen’s wedding, and more. The top right corner was left blank, and reads “Fill in with your own imagination,” to represent the possibilities of the future.
Our next stop was Rosenborg Castle, where we got to explore the beautiful property and tour the castle and treasury, which featured the Danish crown jewels.
The treasury was in the basement of the castle and featured many extravagant displays of weaponry, ivory, amber, and obviously, jewelry. It is estimated that the Danish Crown Jewels are worth over €2.5 Billion.
This Rosenborg wine is from the 1500’s, and is only consumed by the royal family at coronations. It cannot be purchased anywhere, and it is estimated that there is enough wine to last another 300 years.
The Crown Jewels:
Copenhagen most definitely has something to offer everyone, but these sites will bring out the history nerd in everyone!