In Hillerød, the top sight is unarguably the Renaissance castle, Frederiksborg Castle, which was built by the productive Danish King Christin IV (at the time king of Denmark and Norway) in the early 17th century. The palatial complex was constructed on 3 small islands in the Castle Lake (Slotssøen) and replaced an earlier castle construction used by King Frederick VII.
In fact, the castle’s history is extensive and goes much further back in time. The estate belonged in the past to the Gøyes, a noble family in the beginning of the 1500s. By then it was named Hillerødsholm. Mogens Gøye had a daughter, Birgitte, who married Herluf Trolle, a naval hero. The couple erected a manor at Hillerødsholm.
In 1550, King Frederick II made the agreement with Herluf Trolle that he would receive another property in return for the manor. The king had plans to use it as a hunting lodge and soon established the royal stables, the King’s Stables and the Hussars’ Stables, for housing horses for the hunts. Of course, he also renamed the manor to Frederiksborg!
One of the remains from that period is Herluf Trolle’s Tower from 1560, a building still standing today. Another one is the Bath House in Renaissance style from 1581 – which served as a hunting lodge.
Frederiksborg Castle is characterised by its many towers and turrets. Two of these are Mønttårnet and Jægerbakkettårnet. Decorated with four obelisks, the tower above the chapel is also real spectacular.
The castle is the largest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia and has been the residence of multiple Danish monarchs. The complex comprises several wings: the King’s Wing, the Chapel Wing, the Princess’s Wing, all three-storey constructions, as well as the lower Terrace Wing with mythological figures.
In 1859, a devastating fire broke out in the castle and left a large part of the interior destroyed, including the Great Hall. Nevertheless, the original castle chapel survived! During the following years, the castle was rebuilt by the Danish brewer J.C. Jacobsen who had founded the Carlsberg Breweries back in 1847.
The Chapel is, besides being a church, famous for being used as a ceremonial chapel for the prestigious orders, Order of the Elephant and Order of the Dannebrog. It is also the site of the signing of the Treaty of Frederiksborg. The Chapel features an outstanding organ with 1,001 wooden pipes, the oldest organ in Denmark, built by Esajas Compenius in 1610 – and rich in ebony, ivory, and silver decorations.
Another masterpiece is the Great Hall (Riddersalen), situated right above the Chapel. It was completely restored after the 1859 fire. Noteworthy details are the gilded ceiling, the tapestries, as well as the enormous chandelier created by Carl Brummer.
Since 1878, Frederiksborg Castle has housed the Museum of National History which presents Denmark’s cultural heritage from a royal perspective. Inside, paintings, portraits, and furniture tell Denmark’s history over 500 years.
The museum also comprises the Rose Room and the Audience Room. It is really a time journey from the Middle Ages to this century and a rare insight into changing styles and trends over time. The museum was established by J.C. Jacobsen, the brewer who was at the same time an ideologue with an interest in politics and society – and an innovator who sought to promote art, culture, science.
J.C. Jacobsen also donated the Neptune Fountain which can still be seen in the castle courtyard.
The original fountain was designed by Adrien de Vries in the 1620s, but its time at Frederiksborg Castle was short. It was taken to Sweden in 1659 and now adorns Drottningholm Palace in Stockholm. So Frederiksborg Castle will have to do with the copy – that is still a strong symbol of power. The sea god Neptune symbolises the Danish king!
Frederick VII laid out a landscape garden and had a Norwegian house built.
Later, in the beginning of the 1700s, the monarch Frederik IV created an elegant baroque garden just across the Castle Lake. As a baroque garden it had the required symmetry, neat paths, low shrubs, and flowerbeds, all arranged around the centerpiece, a fountain.
Over the years the baroque garden was abandoned, but in 1993 a reconstruction of the original garden was initiated by design of the architect J.C. Krieger. The design included the royal monograms of Frederick IV, Christian VI, Frederick V and Margrethe II. There are cascading fountains and small ponds, a landscape perspective, and the symmetric boxwood hedges and other features follow the design plans from 1725!
A visit to Frederiksborg Castle should include a stroll along the beautiful Castle Lake. In summer, you may even take the small ferry that goes around the lake when the flags are raised at the bridges. The round trip is half an hour.
Featured image of
Travel In Culture