Our last day in Copenhagen was only a half-day, but it was still enough time for us to choose one place to go back and explore more in depth. The decision was easy. We’d seen three different castles on our walking tour of Copenhagen two days before, so we picked the one that looked the most interesting – Christiansborg Palace. The fact that they allow photography might have been an extra incentive, too. If you’re into government and politics (no, thank you), history (yes, please) or simply want to see how the other half lives (i.e. the Danish royal family), then Christiansborg Palace is a place you definitely want on your to-do list in Copenhagen.
Christiansborg Palace is the only building in the world where all three branches of government are represented in the same place – Danish Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Prime Minister all conduct business here. The current Christiansborg Palace is relatively new, but there have been at least four other castles/palaces in this location, the first dating all the way back to 1167. (The remains of this one can still be seen beneath the current palace.) But all of this is not what originally prompted me to visit the palace – I was drawn in by the beauty of the Royal Reception Rooms where the Danish monarchy host their galas, banquets, and whatever other kinds of parties rich royals throw for their equally rich and royal friends.
Christiansborg Palace Royal Reception Rooms
After we paid our entrance fee and put on our trendy blue booties, we were sent off to explore the open areas of the palace on our own. Guided tours are available with the admission fee, but none of the times for English tours coincided with our visit. No matter, we enjoyed wandering through at our own pace anyhow. Sometimes we visit places like this and only 2-3 rooms are open, but I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the rooms were open to the public. We were able to see at least a dozen, if not more. I can’t recall the names of all of them, but my favorites were the throne room, the library (two stories of books – so jealous!), and the Alexandersalen (pictured last above). Every inch of this place is designed just as you’d expect a royal palace to be – meticulously detailed work done everywhere from the doors to the floors to the ceilings. Some of the ceilings were so decadent they looked like wedding cakes with heavy chandelier tassels, but it was the floors I loved the most. Many of the rooms had their own special pattern, my favorites of which were the rooms with stars and flowers embedded in the wood.
Each room was outfitted with information boards in Danish and English describing the purpose of each space and the history behind it, but mostly, I was just interested in admiring how pretty it all looked and how different each room was from the next. I definitely wouldn’t be sending my regrets if I were lucky enough to receive an invitation to a party here.
Underground Palace Ruins
After spending about 45 minutes in the Royal Reception Rooms, we headed underground to check out the ruins of the first two castles ever to be built in this location. (You can pay separately for each thing you want to see at the palace or buy a combo ticket – we did the combo tickets.) What had sounded pretty cool when we were deciding what parts of the palace we wanted to see, was actually just a big pile of rocks. No joke. 800 year old rocks – yay! And this whole area had the distinctive smell of a basement that had flooded years ago and was left to grow mold and who knows what else ever since. I could hardly stand it, so we didn’t stay long. I haven’t a clue what sort of person would find this interesting, but for most, I’d say you’re safe skipping it.
The Royal Stables
Next stop – the Royal Stables. The smell in here was like the sweetest perfume in comparison to the underground ruins! Actually, to tell you the truth, these are the nicest, cleanest stables I’ve ever seen, so they hardly smell at all, at least in comparison to the dirt floor horse barns I’m used to back home. We walked in, and I immediately started taking my glove off and was centimeters away from sticking my hand through the bars to rub the nose of one of the gorgeous royal horses, when Cory stopped me and pointed to the sign – No touching the horses. I can’t even tell you the amount of willpower it took to grudgingly shove my fingers back into my glove and just look at the horses. The one I’d been about to pet was just staring at me with these eyes that were clearly pleading with me to love on him, and I’m all, sorry, Danish horse, rules are rules.
All of the horses in the stables look the same – white coloring with tiny brown freckles – and they aren’t actually Danish horses at all. They’re Kladrubers from the Czech Republic. Besides the stables, visitors are also able to check out the carriage house where the royal family’s coaches and carriages are on display. I took a peek in here, but spent most of my time with the horses who have been done a great disservice by not being allowed to be petted.
Christiansborg Palace Tower
And finally, we took a ride up to the top of the tower of Christiansborg Palace where we got one (very cold) panoramic view of Copenhagen. This tower is the tallest in the city and provides a nice view in every direction for quite a distance – we could even see the smoke stacks across the harbor from where the Little Mermaid sits. We also checked out the statues and sculptures displayed in special rooms of the tower that, for the past hundred years, had been kept secret from all but a select few Parliamentary officers. This tower and the secret rooms are free, so even if you don’t pay to enter the other areas, you can still hitch a ride up the tower. (Very few stairs this time – whew!)
The only thing we didn’t get to see here was the Palace Chapel. We just ran out of time, and needed to make it back to our hotel to collect our bags and hitch a ride on the metro to the airport. I still feel like we got our money’s worth, though. We were at Christiansborg Palace for almost two and half hours, which is way more than I’d expected. Not the first time we’ve had to race through the streets with our suitcases banging along behind us, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Copenhagen was a short trip, but I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute of it. Best idea for a Christmas present we’ve had yet!
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