Saturday 15 August Helsingor (Denmark)

We ate breakfast out in the sun in the Lido Outdoor Café while we watched the ship coming into the small harbour of Helsingor in Denmark, through the narrowest part of Oresund, the 4 kilometre wide Sound between Helsingor in Denmark and Helsingborg in Sweden. Helsingor was founded in the 1420s by the Danish king Eric of Pomerania. He established the Sound Dues in 1429, meaning all foreign ships passing through the strait had to pay a toll, which constituted up to 2/3 of Denmark’s income. With this income, Eric built the castle Krogen, which was expanded in the 1580s and renamed Kronberg.
We disembarked the ship at 8.30am for a tour of Helsingor – we walked along the streets of the Old Town and in Anna Queen Street we saw some very old houses. We saw an old Inn that dates back to 1577 and then walked along the main street, which is now a pedestrian mall. It was interesting to see the irregular, and sometimes not even level, second floor and roof-lines of some of the older buildings. The cobblestone streets made walking sometimes difficult, as they were quite uneven in places. We walked down a narrow street with a drain running down the middle of it and were amazed to see the colours and textures of the buildings, some of which had been restored but most were as they would have been hundreds of years ago. The Old Town was clean and quiet, but coming to life as shops and markets opened for business. We saw some murals painted on the side of buildings depicting life in the olden days.
We walked past St Olag church, which has the oldest wall in the town, dating back to 1190. We continued our stroll through the interesting streets to the Monastery and were able to walk around the square of cloisters around the actual Monastery. Although now Protestant, it was originally Catholic but was not destroyed at the time of reformation because it was “too good to knock down”.
We were then taken to Kronborg Castle, which is probably the most famous Danish Castle, known as the setting for Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, which is still performed here in the open-air stage in the courtyard every summer.
Frederik II’s Kronborg is an elegant castle and a monumental military fortress surrounded by considerable fortifications with bastions and several moats. It has not been inhabited by the royal family since the late 1600’s.
We walked over the moat, through the big gate and into the very large Courtyard and around the quadrangle we saw the Formal King’s House, the covered two storey walkways, the Chapel, Party Rooms and Guest Rooms. We were taken down into the Cellars or “Casemates”, an underground system of corridors and rooms – storerooms and quarters for soldiers during the war and also areas where prisoners were held and forced to work. Presiding over this area was the statue of Holgar the Danish mythological hero.
We then went to the Royal Apartments, which had paintings on the ceiling and still had some of the old furniture. There were several huge paintings in The Queen’s Gallery, which is a corridor that led from The Queen’s Chamber to The Ballroom. The Ballroom, which is 62 metres long, has paintings on the walls dating back to 1618 and has a section of the original floor.
We walked back down the circular staircase and outside to a viewpoint where we could see across the Sound to Helsingborg in Sweden. We were supposed to be driving over the 8 kilometre long Oresund Bridge to Helsingborg, but there was some issue and this didn’t eventuate.
We enjoyed our tour of Kronborg Castle and were interested to hear that the area covers about 16,000 square metres including attics and basements.
We returned to the ship for lunch and once again sat outside and were delighted when the Helsingor Marching Band turned up to perform for us for 30 minutes prior to our sail away – we could get used to this!
We have had a quiet afternoon in preparation for the Captain’s Welcome Drinks and Welcome Dinner this evening.


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