Saturday was a wonderful day to explore the main palace in Copenhagen – Christiansborg Slot. There were many tours available that day, ones to see the ruins of the original castle, the kitchens, the reception rooms and even the royal stables. We wrapped up the day with our first European football match at Parken Stadium.
Christiansborg Palace is a beautiful palace. While it is grand and opulent, it is done so in an understated tasteful way where its humble decor made it an easy place to appreciate. The most interesting fact about Christiansborg Palace is that it has had over five iterations – of which two were built because of fires to the palace. Christiansborg was originally known Absalon’s Castle. Bishop Absalon lived in this fortress to protect the city of Copenhagen from incoming ships from the sea as it developed and grew in the medieval ages. Unfortunately due to many sieges from pirates, and even Denmark’s own king, Absalon’s Castle was no more.
The next iteration of the palace was Copenhagen Castle. Over the course of 300 years, it had gone through several renovations to accommodate the wants of the king. The new castle included a moat and heavy fortress walls. However, at one point, the castle got too heavy and unstable, that the walls collapsed on itself. Which at that point in 1731, the very first Christiansborg Palace was built. Both the ruins of Copenhagen Castle and Absalon’s Castle remain today and are preserved for the public’s enjoyment. The fortress walls and original stone used to built the castles are still intact today. It was fascinating to see the original walls.
When Christiansborg Palace was completed in 1745, it was the largest palace in all of Europe. Unfortunately before the turn of the 19th century, the palace met its untimely death by fire which started in the kitchen. Christiansborg Palace 2.0 was smaller but was short-lived as after it’s construction in 1828, it too burned down in 1884.
The current Christiansborg Palace is the third of the Christiansborg Palace and has yet to burn down (though though the chapel burned down completely in 1992 and had to be rebuilt…) The Danish palace is unique in that it houses the Parliament and the Queen’s Reception Rooms but is not the place of residence for the royal family (they reside in Amalienborg Palace.) This unique way of the joint government and monarch makes for an interesting dynamic between royalty and the people. One where the monarchy is respected and kept relevant, but knowing that the power lies with elected official.
The main highlight of the palace is the Queen’s Reception Room. This is where one would go to be knighted or hold audience with Queen Margrethe. She hosts many official functions at the palace well attended by many political dignitaries and celebrities. The main hall is filled with 11 tapestries, commissioned in France by many Danish companies for the Queen’s 50th birthday and woven together by Le Mobilier National et les Manufactures Nationales de Gobelins et de Beauvais in Paris. The famous Danish artist Bjørn Nørgaard designed all the tapestries telling the history of Denmark; woven within the tapestries are the stories of the monarchy, the development and growth of Denmark, the transition of Paganism to Christianity and many world events.
In the evening we were treated with a football match (how could I resist?!!) of home team København FC against visiting Silkeborg of the Danish Superliga. København FC beat Silkeborg 2-0 in a riveting match (mostly focused on attack in the first half.) Attending our very first European football match was a dream for me, the atmostphere is completely different and totally unique from any other sporting matches in Canada. There is loud chanting and stomping, even singing from all the fans. Everyone knows the chants and songs and the stadium just trembles with the voice of the supporters. My dreams of watching a football match in Europe fulfilled.