Rosenborg Castle

Øster Voldgade 4A, 1350 København, Denmark

Rosenborg Castle is so preposterously pretty it looks like an illustration from a fairy tale by local hero Hans Christian Andersen. Built around 1606, it’s surrounded by a moat and is topped off with verdigris-covered towers and turrets. The beautiful gardens—the oldest royal gardens in Denmark—feature box hedges clipped into star patterns. The only downside is that the castle can often be crowded with visitors who come to see the Danish crown jewels and throne.

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Changing of the guards

As I arrived in Copenhagen for the first time, I followed the map from the subway to my hostel. All was going smoothly until a police officer who was directing traffic stopped me from passing. I stood there with my big pack on my front and back slightly annoyed and then I saw them coming - a beautiful row of soldiers marching in perfect unison emerging from what I came to learn was the Rosenborg Castle complex. They passed by me, and marched directly out on the street. I continued to follow them along the sidewalk as if they were the Pied Piper and I watched as the group of them stopped for stoplights and cars went by them as if this was an everyday occurrence I had no idea who they were or why they were marching, or where they were going - but all of a sudden I felt as if Copenhagen had given me the best welcome possible. It was unexpected, interesting, and suddenly I found myself excited about what else the city had to offer - how else could it surprise me? I later found out that the scene I saw was the daily changing of the Danish Royal Guard. They march from Rosenborg Castle at 11:30 daily through the streets of Copenhagen (stopping for stoplights!), and execute the changing of the guard in front of Amalienborg Palace at 12:00.


The 17th-century castle in the middle of modern Copenhagen is one of those things that gives the city its fairy-tale quality, along with the famous Little Mermaid and the dragons that adorn many buildings. Rosenborg Castle sits, however, in gardens that are even older than the castle itself. The first pleasure gardens here were laid out some 20 years before the castle, with only a small pavilion that the king used on his visits. Elements of the original Renaissance design and later Baroque additions can still be seen, and the garden has one of Northern Europe’s longest mixed borders.

Of course when the sun is out and Copenhagen residents flock here to enjoy picnics on the lawns, no knowledge of the history of garden design is necessary to enjoy the park.

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