Helsingør

Helsingør (aka Elsinore), derived from the German word hals meaning “neck” or “narrow strait.” is a port city at the Northern-most tip of the Danish island Sjælland (or Zealand)
The photo below depicts Helsingør in 1588 compared to it’s google earth view from 2015.  The land across the water is HälsingborgSweden, only 10km (or about 6.2 miles) away by boat.
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The fortress at the tip of Helsingør is Kronborg Slot, the castle said to inspire Shakespeare’s Elsinore in Hamlet.  Kronborg dates back to 1420, and was rebuilt by King Frederick II in 1585, about 15 years Shakespeare wrote Hamlet.
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A cloudy day at Kronborg Slot

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An interior hall at Kronborg Slot

There is an intricate web of catacombs beneath Kronborg Slot.  A giant statue of a Danish figure resides in one chamber.  He is known as Holger Danske, a Danish character that can be traced back to the 12th century.

IN Denmark there stands an old castle named Kronenburg, close by the Sound of Elsinore, where large ships, both English, Russian, and Prussian, pass by hundreds every day. And they salute the old castle with cannons, “Boom, boom,” which is as if they said, “Good-day.” And the cannons of the old castle answer “Boom,” which means “Many thanks.” In winter no ships sail by, for the whole Sound is covered with ice as far as the Swedish coast, and has quite the appearance of a high-road. The Danish and the Swedish flags wave, and Danes and Swedes say, “Good-day,” and “Thank you” to each other, not with cannons, but with a friendly shake of the hand; and they exchange white bread and biscuits with each other, because foreign articles taste the best.

But the most beautiful sight of all is the old castle of Kronenburg, where Holger Danske sits in the deep, dark cellar, into which no one goes. He is clad in iron and steel, and rests his head on his strong arm; his long beard hangs down upon the marble table, into which it has become firmly rooted; he sleeps and dreams, but in his dreams he sees everything that happens in Denmark. On each Christmas-eve an angel comes to him and tells him that all he has dreamed is true, and that he may go to sleep again in peace, as Denmark is not yet in any real danger; but should danger ever come, then Holger Danske will rouse himself, and the table will burst asunder as he draws out his beard. Then he will come forth in his strength, and strike a blow that shall sound in all the countries of the world.

-Hans Christian Anderson, Holger Danske, 1845

 

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