Our last day in Copenhagen was only a half day, but it was still enough time for us to choose one place to return to and explore more in depth. The decision was easy. We’d seen the outside of three beautiful palaces on our walking tour of Copenhagen two days prior, but one in particular had stood out from the others – Christiansborg Palace.
The fact that they allow photography might have been an extra incentive, too.
If you’re into history or simply want to see how the other half lives (i.e., the Danish royal family), then Christiansborg Palace is a place you’ll definitely want on your Copenhagen itinerary.
What is Christiansborg Palace?
Also known as Christiansborg Slot (the Danish word for castle), Christiansborg Palace is one of the most important palaces in Denmark, both from a historical standpoint and a political one. It’s 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 palace is relatively new (like early 20th century new), but there have been at least four other 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.
The main thing that prompted us to return to the palace was the chance to see the royal reception rooms where the Danish monarchy often host their galas, banquets, and whatever other kinds of parties rich royals throw for their equally rich and royal friends.
However, we soon discovered fancy ballrooms weren’t the only reason to pay this palace a visit – there’s a whole lot more to see here.
Things to See at Christiansborg Palace
The Royal Reception Rooms
First things first, let’s begin in the main part of the palace that’s open to visitors – the extravagant royal reception rooms.
After we paid our entrance fee and put on a pair of trendy blue booties to protect the castle’s shiny floors, we were sent off to explore the public areas of the palace on our own.
Guided tours are available with your admission fee, but none of the times for English tours coincided with our visit. No big deal, we enjoyed wandering through at our own pace anyway. It gave us plenty of time to linger in each room and take photos, and believe me, if you’re even the least bit into photography, you’re going to love photographing the royal reception rooms.
See what I mean? I definitely wouldn’t be sending my regrets if I were lucky enough to receive an invitation to a party here.
Every inch of Christiansborg Palace is as intricately designed as you’d expect a royal palace to be – old paintings, rich fabrics, and ornate details 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 embedded in the wood, my favorites of which were the star and flower designs.
Sometimes we visit places like these and only 2-3 rooms are open, but I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the rooms at Christiansborg Palace were open to the public. We were able to see at least a dozen different rooms, if not more. My favorites were the Throne Room, the Queen’s Library (two stories of books – so jealous!), and the Alexandersalen ballroom, but even just the hallways made me stop in my tracks to grab a photo.
Each room was outfitted with information boards in Danish and English describing the purpose of each space and the history behind it, which was super helpful seeing as we didn’t have a guide with us. In all, we probably spent around 45 minutes walking around the royal reception rooms, which is probably average if you’re reading all the info and snapping pictures as you go.
Christiansborg Palace Ruins
Next, we headed underground to check out the ruins of the first two castles ever to be built in this location.
What had sounded pretty cool when we were deciding which parts of the palace we wanted to see, was actually just a big pile of rocks. No joke. 800 year old rocks – yay!
And the 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 only stayed long enough to have a quick read about what the oldest castles on this spot had been like and then moved on.
If you’re short on time, I’d say you’re safe skipping this bit unless you’re really into Scandinavian history, or I guess archaeology.
The Royal Stables
The next stop on our tour was 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 smelled at all, at least in comparison to the dirt floor barns I’m used to back home.)
Right when we walked in, I immediately started taking off my glove 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 a 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 me to love on him, and I was all, Sorry, Danish horse, rules are rules.
All of the horses in the stables look similar – white coloring with tiny brown freckles – and they aren’t actually Danish horses at all. They’re Kladrubers from the Czech Republic.
Besides the royal 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
If you like to get up high in cities for a bird’s eye view of your surroundings, you’re definitely going to want to take a ride up to the top of the palace’s tower where you’ll be treated to one gorgeous panoramic view of Copenhagen.
The Christiansborg Palace tower is the tallest in the city and provides a great view of Copenhagen from above in every direction for quite a distance – we could even see the smoke stacks across the harbor from where the Little Mermaid sits.
The best part? Going up in the tower is free, so even if you don’t plan to buy a ticket to see the rest of the palace, it’s worth stopping by just for this alone.
Also up here are statues and sculptures displayed in secret rooms of the tower that had been kept hidden from all but a select few Parliamentary officers for the past hundred years. (Pretty cool!)
Christiansborg Palace Chapel
And finally, the only thing we didn’t get to see ourselves, but you definitely should especially since it’s free – the palace’s chapel.
This chapel is the official church of the Danish royal family and a reconstruction of the original. (The chapel here has, sadly, burned down several times over the years.) It’s neoclassical in design and looks quite beautiful in photos. You can take a peek here.
I hate we didn’t get to go in and see it, but we 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. (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.) Something for the next visit, I guess!
Tips for Visiting Christiansborg Palace
- Tickets can be purchased online (here) in advance and are good for up to a month or a year depending on which ticket you purchase.
- A combo ticket for entrance into the royal reception rooms, ruins, and royal stables is the best deal if you want to see it all. (Both the tower and the chapel are free.)
- If you’re short on time, a ticket into the royal reception rooms only combined with the free areas will be the better choice.
- If you want to see everything, plan to spend around 2-3 hours here. I know that sounds like a lot, but it takes a while to make it through the entire palace.
- Be sure to check opening times on the official website before you go. There are closures from time to time.
- Photography is allowed, so don’t forget your camera!
- Find Christiansborg Palace on a map: Prins Jørgens Gård 1, 1218 Copenhagen
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