Saturday, May 01, 2010

Elsinore/Helsingør and Kronborg

The Vikings had probably a gathering place at Elsinore, but the earliest archaeological reports are from the beginning of the 1200s. The town is mentioned in king Valdemar Sejr's Jordebog,but it was first of importance from the beginning of the 1420s, when the fortification Krogen (Kronborg)was built here, where Øresund is narrow and only 4 km broad.

King Erik of Pommern gave the town its municipal rights in 1426, and in 1429 the base of its riches was made. The Øresundstold (customs) was introduced, and all ships passing Øresund had to anchor at Elsinore and pay customs. Not until 1857 was the Øresundstold removed after international pressure.

Church ship and tourist shop with beer jugs (click to enlarge)

The optrician.

Elsinore and Kronborg are today famous because of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and his play Hamlet. The English dramatist might not have visited the town, but it is documented that several of his actor friends had been in Elsinore to play at the theater.

Each year in the middle of August is Elsinore the host of Baltic Sail, where Danish and abroad sailing- and steamships are anchored. There are maritime booths, exhibitions, jazz- and maritime music and fireworks. People can go aboard the ships and also go sailing with an old wooden ship.

corner of the cathedral

The cathedral, St. Olai kirke origins from the first half of the 1200s, but was extended in 1475-1559 into its present look. The church has a fine baroque inventory. The 12 meter high altar piece from 1664 is the largest in Denmark. In the northern chapel sits a cannon ball, fired from an English war ship in 1801, where the Danish fleet was defeated by the English in Slaget på Reden.

A cosy café and a shopping street

Kloster garden

The Carmelite kloster/Skt. Mariæ Klosterkirke is from the beginning of the 1400s and one of the best preserved medieval klosters in the North. Inside the church are fine frescoes from the period 1440-1525 and an altar piece from 1637.

Buxtehude's house in Elsinore

From 1642 Buxtehude's father was organist at St. Olai kirke in Elsinore, and supposedly Diderich Buxtehude had his first music lessons by his father. When he was twenty, he became organist by St. Mariæ kirke in Helsingborg. In 1660 he became organist at St. Maria kirke in Elsinore where he stayed for eight years. His first known works origin from that time, i.e kantate Aperite mihi portas justitiae . Several cembaloworks also were composed in his days at Elsinore. From 1667 he was organist at Maria Kirche in Lübech, one of the most important churches in Europe, where he stayed until his death.

Kronborg and the Great Hall

Kronborgs first beginning was a fortificated castle, built by the Danish king Erik of Pommern in the 1420s and named Krogen (= corner). It was the base of the Renaissance castle, which Frederik II started to build in 1574 and which he named it Kronborg. The castle except the church burnt down in 1629, but was rebuilt by Christian IV. In the cellar rooms called Kassematerne is a statue of Holger Danske (Ogier the Dane ), who according to the legend with rise when Denmark is in utmost distress. At the castle are the famous Kronborg tapestries from 1584 with motives from a list of Danish kings. There is a Handels- og Søfartsmuseum about Danish seafaring, the Øresundstoll, the maritime wars with England, the slave trade in Africa and the trading negotiations with the Danish colonies in India, the West Indies and China. In the castle boutique are i.e. bottle ships , ship models and figureheads.

Kronborg is famous for being the scene of Shakespeares tragedy Hamlet. From 1937 it became a returning event to perform Hamlet at Kronborg. One of the greatest Shakesperian actors sir Laurence Olivier played Hamlet at kronborg in 1937 with Vivien Leigh as Ophelia, other Hamlets were i.e. John Gielgud in 1939, Michael Redgrave in 1950, Richard Burton with Claire Bloom in 1954, Derek Jacoby with Jane Wymark in 1979. (Jane Wymark is today known as Mrs. Barnaby in Midsomer Murders); in 1988 Kenneth Branagh - and then there was a break until 2000 where Simon Beale was Hamlet. The last Hamlet at Kronborg was in April 2009, where the famous Jude Law had the leading role as the young prince of Denmark.

photo Helsingør 2008: grethe bachmann


Wanda..... said...

Enjoyed the photos and history. The homes and shops in Elsinore and Kronborg are so colorful, as if painted by an artist's brush. They have a watercolor look to them!

Thyra said...

Hej Wanda! Thank you! and welcome to my blog. You're right about the watercolor look of the houses. As far as I know people agree upon the color of their house in each street to make them match well. I hadn't thought about the watercolor look before, but it's true. Such lovely soft colors meet the eye.
I like your blog. I'd like to follow!

Kittie Howard said...

Thyra, Elsinore is beautiful. We went years ago, happy to see the town's remained delightful (if not more so). Wanda's right, I hadn't thought about a watercolor look, but it's so true. Thank you for the history. Very interesting!