Immortalized in print as the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the imposing fortress perched on the northeastern shores of Zealand, is often better known as its literary alter-ego, Elsinore, and is one of Denmark’s most visited attractions. With its dramatic seafront location and towering Renaissance façade, it’s easy to see why Shakespeare was inspired by Kronborg Castle (Kronborg Slot) and in 2000 the magnificent royal abode also became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Although its history dates back as early as the 1420s, the present day Kronborg Castle was built in 1585 by Danish King Frederick II and expanded by Christian IV in the early 17th century. Despite being looted by the Swedes in 1658, the later addition of defensive sea walls and a moat elevated Kronborg to one of Europe’s most impregnable strongholds.
Today, much of the castle interiors are open to the public and visitors can explore the former Royal chambers, King Frederik II’s wine cellar, the exquisite galleried chapel and the dungeons where Queen Caroline Mathilde was held captive in 1772. Most impressive is the lavish ballroom, featuring the original 16th-century wall tapestries and still used to host special events and medieval banquets.