Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace is the largest castle in Scandinavia. It houses both the national parliament, the Prime Ministers office, the Supreme Court and the Queen. In this way, it is the only building in the world with all branches of government in it. 

There has been a castle on this spot since the foundation of Copenhagen in 1167. The current palace was finished as late as 1928.

History of Christiansborg Palace

Copenhagen was officially founded in 1167 on the spot where Christiansborg Palace is located. The founder was a bishop from the town of Roskilde called AbsalonHe wanted to protect the sea in the area from pirates and therefore built a castle on this spot. There is a statue of Absalon on horseback near the castle to commemorate this event.

Since then the castle has been expanded and burned down many times. The main building is the fifth castle/palace on the same site and was finished as late as 1928. However, The Palace Church dates from the fourth castle built in 1826. And the two grey wings of the courtyard containing the Royal Stables and the Court Theater date from the third castle built in the 1740s. So do the canals around the palace. 

Christiansborg Palace is located on a small island called ‘Slotsholmen’ (Castle Island). When the first castle was built in 1167 it was a small island. Today, it has been enlarged and it is hard to see that it is an island because the area around it has been landfilled as Copenhagen has grown. So you are looking at land on three of the island’s four sides. But since it is surrounded by canals of sea water, it is technically still an island.

Christiansborg Palace (or the castles before it on the same spot) has been the center of power in Denmark since the early 1400s when the capital of Denmark was moved from Roskilde to Copenhagen. Until the third castle burnt down in 1794 it was also the primary royal residence and since 1849 it has also been the seat of parliament.

What to see in the Palace

(Please note that in the photo gallery below there is a map of entrances to all the sites)

The Queen’s reception rooms

Throne Room in Christiansborg Palace

The Throne Room. (Photo: Thorkild Jensen

The most spectacular part of the palace is the Queen’s reception rooms. The Danish Queen and the rest of the royal family no longer live in Christiansborg Palace but she has some very large and beautiful reception rooms that she uses to receive important visitors to Denmark and for parties. When she is not using them they are open for visitors.

The rooms are richly decorated with beautiful furniture, paintings and art pieces, many of them salvaged from the former palaces that burned down. The great ballroom features 17 very spectacular, colorful tapestries designed by the Danish artist Bjørn Nørgaard and depicting Danish and world history.

Opening hours: May-September: 9 am-5 pm every day. Rest of the year: 10 am – 5 pm all days except Monday. Can close for use by the Queen or the parliament.

The Ruins beneath Christiansborg Palace

At a separate entrance in the inner courtyard you can pay to see the ruins of the outer wall of the first castle built in the year 1167.

Opening hours: May-September: 10 am-5 pm every day. Rest of the year: 10 am – 5 pm all days except Monday

The Palace Church

Christiansborg Palace church

Christiansborg Palace Church. (Photo: Thorkild Jensen)

The church is only open on Sundays. It dates from 1826 but was renovated in the 1990’s. It is often used by the royal family and the parliament and is one of the most beautiful churches in Copenhagen

Opening hours: Only open on Sundays 10 am – 5 pm except July and Easter week where it is open every day

The Tower

The tower is the highest point in Copenhagen and there is a great view of the inner city. It is free of charge to get up there but at times there are long waiting lines. There is a restaurant but it is very popular so you must book a table in advance. (Read more about the tower here)

Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 11 AM-9 PM. Sunday: 11 AM-5.30 PM

The Parliament (Folketinget)

The Danish parliament can only be visited on guided tours and unfortunately their website is only in Danish. (Here). You can call on +45 33 37 32 21.

The Royal Stables

Royal Stables at Christiansborg Palace

Royal Stables (Photo: Thomas Rahbek)

The stables date from the 1740’s. Here you can see beautiful white horses and a collection of carriages. The horses are there most the time but there is no guarantee.

Opening hours: May – June: 1:30 pm – 4 pm every day. July: 10 am – 5 pm every day. August – September: 1:30 pm – 4 pm every day. October – April: 1:30 – 4 pm all days except Monday

The Court Theater

This small theater from the 1740’s is a really neat place. It is completely preserved as when it was built and has a great atmosphere. The famous writer Hans Christian Andersen went to ballet school here for a year when he was young but was a terrible dancer.

Opening hours: Tuesday- Sunday 12 am – 4 pm

The Royal Kitchens

The kitchen does not take long to see. It looks like it did in 1937 when the kitchen staff prepared for a large banquet in the palace. It has one of Europe’s largest collections of copperware.

Opening hours: May-September: 10 am-5 pm every day. Rest of the year: 10 am – 5 pm all days except Monday

How to get to Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace is within walking distance of most hotels and other tourist attractions. If you want a guided tour of the Queen’s Reception Rooms and the rest of Copenhagen you can join our GRAND INNER CITY TOUR which also takes you to Amalienborg Palace Square, Rosenborg Palace and on the popular canal tour around the city center.

 

Photo Gallery

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