July 13, 2016
The second half of my countryside daytrip (read the first half here) through central and northern Sjælland (Zealand) took us from Roskilde, former capitol of Denmark and the largest city in the region, north to Hillerød. In Søren’s time as a guide working through college, he would joke that it takes just 35 minutes to get anywhere in Denmark. Indeed, after our departure from Vikingeskibs Museet (The Viking Ship Museum) we were walking the path toward Frederiksborg Castle in just that! (If you are just tuning in, read this Great Scandinavian Adventure from the beginning here.)
Frederiksborg Slot is the largest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia and was built during the time of Christian IV, who reigned from 1588-1648. However, the castle got its name much earlier during the reign of Christian’s father, King Frederik II. As history tells it, during the Middle Ages Hillerødsholm manor stood where the current castle is today. In 1560, the distinguished Gøye family exchanged Hillerødsholm with King Frederik for the Skovkloster manor. It is said that this was the king’s favorite residence, thus, he named it Frederiksborg.
In 1577, Frederick II of Denmark and Sophia of Mecklenburg’s first son was born in the castle. They named him Christian IV. As the boy grew, he formed a deep attachment to Frederiksborg. Sadly, at eleven years old, Christian’s father, King Frederik II, died. Perhaps his father’s death contributed to his desire to begin extensive restoration work in 1599, replacing the old manor with a magnificent Renaissance masterpiece. Frederiksborg would become one of King Christian IV’s favorite respites in the Danish countryside, and what a haven it is.
On the day we visited, Frederiksborg was awash in sunshine. As Annelise, Søren and I rounded the bend on the Søstien path, the majesty of this stunning castle appeared before our widened eyes. As we walked along the edge of Slotssøen (Castle Lake), we nearly tripped over our feet, as we could not look away from the grandeur before us. Walking along the entry way we were transported back to the Renaissance era; to a period of affluence and growth in Danish history. Lifelike statues, enormous fountains, and grand entryways illustrated the ostentatious Baroque-style of the 16th century.
Stepping inside, we were simply awestruck. Elaborate marbled floors, grandiose archways, paintings and furniture displayed the pompous magnificence of the time. The Rose Room (also called the Knight’s Room), with its intricately sculptured ceiling, was a dining room for lords and ladies of the court. The Chapel, which dates back to 1618 and is one of the few areas that survived a massive fire in 1859, is awash in the gilded architecture of Danish master builder and painter, Lambert van Haven. The richly decorated six-vaulted stucco ceiling depicts the golden hue of the heavens.
Frederiksborg was indeed an unbelievably picturesque castle, but I like to think that it was lovingly referred to it as the “Pleasure Palace” because of the tranquil and serene Frederiksborg Slothave (Frederik’s Castle Gardens). I could see the majestic grounds from inside the castle, and knew I must stroll the paths that Danish royalty once ambled. The greenery and foliage, the beautiful flowers and the blue of the water reflecting the image of this profound castle made this day extra special. I was so thankful for being able to experience this wonderful place, and to have Annelise and Søren accompany me was icing on the cake.
Of course, I could not even begin to go into great detail about all I saw at Frederiksborg Castle, so please head on over to my Scandinavan Travel Pinterest page view dozens more pictures of my trip to Hillerød (and more)!
Also, be sure to tune in next week as I travel another 35 minutes northwest to Helsingør, the site of Kronborg Castle, which could not be more different than Frederiksborg.