Dokodemo Door!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Journey to Denmark and Sweden, #2

The next day, we took the train north from Copenhagen to the town of Helsingor. There, in the train station, we met with Erik, one of my distant cousins who lives with his family across the water in Helsingborg, Sweden.

He brought us through Kronborg Castle, which is Helsingor's star attraction. Built by Denmark's King Christian IV, it had been funded by the collection of tolls from ships passing through the Oresund Strait.

Kronborg Castle was supposed to be the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The Bard had never actually set foot there, but the place had a contemporary reputation of being Renaissance Europe's premiere party-spot.

Apparently, the exterior cladding of the castle is sandstone. I'm not sure why they chose it, since it erodes quickly under precipitation. The result is that the outside wall is under perpetual restoration.

Many of the paintings and tapestries inside were still present, although quite a number of them apparently got carted-away by the Swedes in the mid-1600s, along with the bronze fountain in the courtyard.

We had a chance to tour the castle interior, including what was once the largest dining hall in Europe. As a bonus, we were able to walk through the catacombs underneath.

Down in the former stables and barracks, we were able to catch a glimpse of its 20th century statue of Ogier the Dane, the legendary giant of old who supposedly awakens and springs to life whenever Denmark is threatened with foreign invasion.

The obvious wise-ass response is to ask where he was when the Nazis invaded. Well, apparently, some of the Danish anti-Nazi resistance groups took the name of Ogier the Dane, so I guess that counts.

Next: Journeying through southern Sweden.


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