Atlas Obscura is Hiring! Join us in pursuit of wonder.

Helsingør, Denmark

Kronborg Castle (Elsinore)

Old Danish castle immortalized in Shakespeare's Hamlet. 

“In Denmark lies an old castle … and deep down in its cellar sits Holger the Dane. In his dreams he sees everything that is happening in all of Denmark.” – Hans Christian Anderson, from “Holger the Dane.”

North of Copenhagen, overlooking the sea stands a great fortress whose massive fortifications contrast with its elegant copper roofed pinnacles. Kronborg Castle has been used as a royal residence, a garrison, a prison, and lastly a museum. But the castle’s fame chiefly rests on its connection with two great figures of legend.

One is Hamlet, prince of Denmark, immortalized in the play of the same name by William Shakespeare. Although Shakespeare called the castle Elsinore, an Anglicized form of Helsingør, this name properly applies only to the town below the castle. But the world still knows it as Elsinore.

The other Danish hero who brings visitors to Kronborg is Holger the Dane, one of the twelve knights, or Paladins, of Charlemagne. Holger is a sleeping hero who is said to sleep underground until the hour of his country’s greatest danger, when he will rise and fight to defend it.

The castle can still evoke the Elsinore of Shakespeare.

Edit Place