Hillerød: The Frederiksborg Castle

THE NEXT DAY YANYAN AND I CONTINUE OUR DAY TRIP with another castle visit. Our destination is Hillerød, a small town with some history behind it, although almost all visitors come here mainly for its large Renaissance castle, the Frederiksborg.

Located in a picturesque setting in the middle of the lake, the Frederiksborg Castle commands our attention as we approach its grounds. The castle is the largest in Scandinavia and serves as a reminder of how powerful the Danish monarchs were in the region, if not the whole of Europe. The castle as it stands now was a replacement for an older castle constructed by Frederick II, with Christian IV having it rebuilt in the early 17th century in the Flemish and Dutch Renaissance style.

Entering the courtyard, we encounter the Neptune Fountain, which was first built in 1620 to illustrate Denmark’s position as a Nordic power at the time. This is a copy, though, as the Swedes dismantled the original in 1659 and took it to Sweden as reparations for the war.

The castle is impressive, containing large rooms with elegantly carved details. The Chapel in particular is a lavish church room in the western wing. Built as the private worship place of the royal family, it has since become the the ceremonial chapel for the Order of the Elephant and the Order of the Dannebrog.

The Frederiksborg also houses the National History Museum, and thus touring the labyrinthine halls, we see walls and walls of portraits of various people who in one way or another have made their marks in Danish history. The third floor of the castle serves as the venue for changing exhibitions. On this visit, the focus is on Christian X’s visit to Iceland in the 1920s, when the country was still under the Danish kingdom.

As much as Frederiksborg is magnificent, equally pretty are the gardens outside. In fact, strolling in these green spaces and admiring the view form part of the experience of the castle visit. The northern garden is designed in the Baroque tradition, while the western garden is in the Romantic style.

The Baroque Garden, where we spend much of our time, was created in the 1700s and underwent some modifications in the 1990s. Nonetheless, it’s still a magnificent example of landscaping defined by straight lines and exquisitely manicured shaped hedges. The garden consists of four terraces which descend downwards towards the castle lake, with the central axis dissected by an artificial stream flowing to the castle lake.

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