Copenhagen’s Kastellet (or Citadel)

Just by chance, we happened upon the Kastellet in Copenhagen. It’s located a bit behind the Little Mermaid, so after admiring her (for about 3.5 minutes) and getting a scoop of ice cream, we decided to walk through the park and enjoy the afternoon sun. The Kastellet is one of the best-preserved fortifications in Europe, and it was quite obvious that the shape of the land was not natural. It’s hard to see from the ground, but a picture from the air or a map clearly shows the five-sided shape of the structure.

Map image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

I was a little confused about Kastellet, because it seems that it is both a park – open for everyone’s use – and also a current military site. And there’s a bunch of historic stuff thrown in as well, so it’s really a mixed-bag. The original fort was begun by King Christian IV back in 1626, when he had an entrenchment dug in the city wall. He originally wanted a luxurious palace built on the site, but as with many grand construction plans, the economic reality forced him to scale back. King Frederick III continued the construction, and the area was formally named Citadellet Frederikshavn.

In addition to the ducks enjoying the water, you can see the mad-made hill rising alongside the moat. This is the outer wall of the fortifications. I want to know whether the trees were planted deliberately, or if they just happened the grow there and no one removed them!

This picture was taken facing the Norgesporten (Norway Gate), which used to face the countryside. Only the guard building remains, and you can see that it’s been built into the hillside. There is a path running along the top, because we saw several joggers running up there, but we didn’t get a chance to scramble up there. Instead we walked across this long and rather intimidating bridge. I wonder what the original would have looked it?  It’s too wide to have been a drawbridge, although I suppose part of it could have been. Perhaps it was just a simple wooden bridge that could have been destroyed easily in case of invasion.

Don’t worry – I made Alex wear plenty of sunscreen. No more skin cancer here!

Once through the gate, these bright red buildings went down along both sides of the main street. They look like military barracks, but nowadays I believe they are used as offices for various military purposes. Each building had a name rather than a number, and I am kicking myself right now that I didn’t get any pictures of the name plates. I love the bright white door against the red building – and with the blue sky in the background it was really a cheerful scene.

This is the main entrance to Kastellet, and is all the way on the other side from the Norgesporten. This is called the Kongeporten (King’s Gate). You can see that it’s a little more complicated, with two caponiers, which look like wings attached to the main tunnel. Apparently the idea of the caponier is that it was a location from which to fire on attacking troops! But how do you think they knew about the attacking troops? There buildings have been built into the hillside, so there are no windows on the other side (where the attackers would come from). I suppose they could climb into the tower and look out, right?

This is the scene on the other side of the Kongeporten. Cars still drive in and out of there, so it’s nice to have a separate walkway for pedestrians. The red gate matches the red buildings inside, and contrasts nicely with the bright green grass (and algae!)

This is one of my favorite pictures from our time in Copenhagen – the blue sky, the stormy clouds, the many greens … all punctuated by the church spire. I think it’s great that the grey of the clouds matches the grey of the church, and that it carries through to the grey bridge over on the left. If only there weren’t those white poles sticking up and ruining the composition!

This picture was taken from over by the church, looking back at the bridge leading to the Kongeporten. You can see the red gate where I was standing earlier, and the mounded hill of the outer fortification. I wish the water has been clear – although the greenery certainly makes in an interesting surface!

We spent probably 20 minutes strolling through the Kastellet. I can see why it’s a popular destination with locals, as it’s a great place to run and frolic and play. But for a visitor, it’s a nice stroll but not much else. Ice cream always helps, of course.  🙂



Posted on 30/08/2011, in travel, Travel to Europe and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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