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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weekend #1: Copenhagen & NW Zealand

Saturday, I walked through the city en route to a tour of Carlsberg Brewery seeing the following sites along the way.

Børsen - 17th century stock exchange used until 1857
Houses across canal

We then reached the brewery which, in and of itself, is an interesting historical site.  Carlsberg is a huge driving force in the Copenhagen and even Danish business world.

Modern Carlsberg Headquarters

Historic Entrance Gate

Carlsberg chose the swastika as their emblem in the 19th century for it's Indian symbolism of good luck.  It appears above the windows on the inner gate and on the side of the elephants among many others.  Interestingly enough, the other symbol of the brand is the brewery 6-sided star identical in appearance to the star of David but instead symbolizing the components of a well brewed beer:  fire, air, water, earth.

Historic Inner Gate

Elephant at Base of Gate

Sunday we headed out by train to first Helsingør, a small but historic town on the NE-most tip of Denmark.  It is a very cute town with traditional brightly colored Danish houses and buildings sporting many Danish flags. 

Looking down a Helsingør Street
Corner flower park near square

The town is also home to a 13th century church and monastery.

Sankt Olai Kirke (1200)
Sankt Olai Kirke

Karmeliterklosteret (Carmelite Monastary) 1209

Helsingør is also home to Kronborg Slot, the 15th century castle which was the setting for Shakespeare's Hamlet.  During summer months, performances of Hamlet are portrayed on a stage within the courtyard of the castle.

Entrance to Kronborg Slot
Kronborg Slot (Hamlet's Castle)

Kronborg Slot was strategically located on the NE-most tip of Denmark, that closest point to Sweden.  From this fortress, Denmark was able to tax and control shipments through the øresund (sound between Sweden and Denmark).  It's still an important channel, but also offers a beautiful view across the sound to Sweden.

 View of Sweden from shore of Kronborg Slot
Lokalbaner taken from Helsingør to Hillerød along coast

Beautiful scenery along train ride

We then arrived in Hillerød and went to the Frederiksborg Slot which was quite amazing.  The castle was built in 1560 under it's namesake, king Frederik II.  It was the primary castle used by the Danish kings for over a century.  Since 1878, it has been home to The Museum of National History.

Exterior of Frederiksborg Slot

The interior of the castle was every bit as impressive as the exterior. 

Altar view of the castle's Chapel

Chapel's Pipe Organ

The "Great Hall"

Chandelier in Great Hall

After touring the interior of the castle, we were directed to the back to see the garden.  We weren't expecting much, but were proven very wrong.

Rear view of castle
Castle from across moat
Danish crown hedge within garden

Castle from across tier 1 of the garden

Castle from across the fountains of tier 2

The elegance of simplicity

The castle from across the third tier pool

Castle from hedge garden

Castle from hedge garden

Castle from moat