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Frederiksborg Castle and Denmark’s Greatest King, Christian IV

Frederiksborg, Denmark

Stunning, lakeside Frederiksborg, one of Christian IV’s favorite residences, houses a history museum (covering 1500 to the present) and portrait gallery. We visit the king’s opulent apartments, audience hall, great hall, and grand chapel.

Complete Video Script

While just a small country today of roughly 5 million people, in the 16th century, the Danish empire included all of Scandinavia and even stretched even into Germany. It had a fearsome military and demanded respect from its neighbors.

And, in a small town north of Copenhagen as if floating on a lake, is a reminder of all that power: the stunning Frederiksborg Castle. Many consider this, the grandest castle in Scandinavia…the "Danish Versailles." Built in the early 1600s, Frederiksborg is the castle of Denmark's greatest king, Christian IV.

This was one of the king's favorite residences — with a suitably regal entry ringed by a moat designed more for swans than defense.

The king imported Dutch Renaissance architects to create his own "Christian IV style," which, by the way, you see in fancy buildings all over Copenhagen.

The royal apartments exude royal opulence. For over a century the palace has been a museum, offering a stroll through the story of Denmark from 1500 until today. It serves as Denmark's National Portrait Gallery.

In the audience room the king would receive important visitors. Paintings of Denmark's military victories over neighboring Sweden line the wall… reminding visiting VIPs of Denmark's power.

And the Great Hal was known as the Dancing Hall in Christian the Fourth's day — with the orchestra playing from their perch above, this is where he'd throw his lavish parties.

Gazing out the windows, guests would marvel at the king's baroque garden. Sculpted royal gardens, like the palaces, were used as propaganda: the king rules everything in his realm — even nature.

Christian IV wanted the grandest royal chapel in Europe. While it's always been a Lutheran church, here the uncharacteristically ornate decor celebrates the power of the earthly king. The symbolism preaches a royal theology: God blessed the Danes with a great king who they should obey.

This fine inlaid woodwork dates from 1620. Two centuries of Danish royalty were crowned in this church. Emblems celebrate subjugated realms of the Danish king. This one represents Norway — which was long a part of the Danish empire.

In King Christian's day, Europe was extremely fragmented. Today, Europe is evolving into a single free trade zone with over 400 million people. And, like the United States invested in its interstate highway system to grease commerce, Europe’s investing in huge bridges and tunnels so its cars, trucks, and bullet trains don't need to load onto ferries… as was the time-consuming norm until just recently.