Rosenborg Castle

Copenhagen, Denmark | C.1606

Photo Credit: Erol Ahmed

Many people long to live in a castle but it is rarely a king who has such a fantasy. However, this was the case of the Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark which was the dream estate of King Charles IV. First conceived as a country summerhouse in 1606, the estate underwent four phases that turned it into Charles IV favored getaway.

As a young and ambitious king, Charles IV felt he needed a fitting residence in Copenhagen that outshone the old-fashioned Copenhagen Castle. In 1606 he purchased 40 lots beyond the Nørrevold wall for his countryside pleasure palace.

With its high towers and red brick walls ornamented with sandstone, Rosenborg stands today as a prime example of Christian IV’s many structural works. It was built in the particular Dutch Renaissance style, which became typical of Danish buildings of the period. Although the architects Bertel Lange and Hans van Steenwinckel are linked to the design of the castle, it is well surmised that Charles IV played a large role in the contributions to the final designs.

The palace originally began as a modest summer palace that makes up a majority of the southern half of Rosenborg. Four phases saw additional wings and amenities to the ever-growing palace. Only three years after its completion new construction had doubled its size, and in 1616 a third story was added. In 1633 Charles decided to embellish the entrances to the official chambers on the 1st and 2nd floors, a decision likely spurred by the lavish wedding plans he held for his son.

The castle was used by Danish regents as a royal residence until around 1710. After the reign of Frederik IV, Rosenborg was utilized as a royal residence only twice, and both these times were during emergencies. The first time was after Christiansborg Palace burned down in 1794, and the second marked the British attack on Copenhagen in 180.

The castle is now held as state property and was opened to the public in 1838. It houses a museum exhibiting the Royal Collections including artifacts spanning a breadth of royal Danish culture from the late 16th century of Christian IV to the 19th century. Some of these articles once belonged to the nobility and the aristocracy.

The palace was born out of an ambitious dream, and Charles’ love for the estate never ceased. He was so enthralled with the place that upon his deathbed he commanded that a sleigh transport him to the palace so he could spend his final days in his beloved palace.

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