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45-minute train ride along the coast of Copenhagen takes travelers to the city of Helsingør, Denmark. The Kronborg Castle resides there, a UNESCO World Heritage Site immortalized as Elsinore in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The municipality remains small with a population of only 60,000. However, Helsingør’s influence stretches through its medieval and nautical past, making it a place of underrated significance.

Aerial view of Kronborg Castle. Photo by Herrndorff PF via Unsplash.

The Kronborg Castle remains the highlight of Helsingør. Eric of Pomerania first built a fortress there known as the “Krogen” in the 1420s, and one can still see remnants of its walls at the site today. In 1574, King Frederik II commenced construction on what would become Kronborg Castle. However, a fire in 1629 burned down much of the fortification, leaving only the chapel. Near identical reconstruction of the Kronborg Castle took place and remains much of what exists today.

Hamlet’s world comes to life in the fortress. The English name of Elsinore remains widely used in reference to Helsingør because of Shakespeare’s influence. The city also holds an annual Shakespeare Festival, continuing the tradition from 1816 when Hamlet was first performed in the castle itself.

Beyond the many concrete rooms, the castle contains crypts and catacombs where the famous Holger Dankse statue resides. Danish legend says that Holger Dankse, or Ogier the Dane, dwells beneath Kronborg Castle, sleeping until Denmark needs saving from great peril. Journey through this underground maze to find his legendary residence.

The statue of Holger Danske in the catacombs beneath Kronborg Castle. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Outside and 4 kilometers across the Øresund sound sits Helsingborg, Sweden. A ferry connects the two cities, and their closeness allows one to see the other country in the distance. Denmark controlled the Øresund sound for hundreds of years. Ships sailing to the Baltic Sea through this passage paid tolls at Kronborg Castle from 1429 to 1857, making Helsingør one of the most important towns in Europe during this time; 1.8 million ships passed through the sound during those years.

Helsingborg, Sweden in the distance from Helsingør. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Helsingør gained further prominence during WWII with the “Elsinore Sewing Club.” In 1943, a bookbinder, reporter, detective, bookkeeper, and physician founded an underground resistance operation codenamed the Elsinore Sewing Club to save Jews facing deportation by the Nazis. The club organized the transportation of Jews across the Øresund to neutral Sweden, successfully saving hundreds of people.

Today, Helsingør brings its past to the present in a renaissance of historical culture. Walk the medieval roads and cramped alleyways to meet the Kronborg Culture Harbor, which connects the town, castle, and coast in a modern and cultural center. Explore the nearby M/S Maritime Museum, Helsingør’s City Museum, or the Værftets Madmarked Food Market. Step into the Elsinore of Hamlet and witness the reality beyond the setting or watch the slumber of one of Denmark’s biggest folktales at Kronborg Castle. From the coast, wave hello to Sweden and see the waters crossed by those saved by the Elsinore Sewing Club. To experience a small city with profound influence, look to Helsingør.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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The Home of Hamlet and the Elsinore Sewing Club

Kronborg Castle. Photo by A. Medvedkov.

October 12, 2021

To experience a small city with profound influence, look to Helsingør, Denmark, home of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the Elsinore Sewing Club, which was responsible for saving hundreds of Jews fleeing danger during WWII.

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45-minute train ride along the coast of Copenhagen takes travelers to the city of Helsingør, Denmark. The Kronborg Castle resides there, a UNESCO World Heritage Site immortalized as Elsinore in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The municipality remains small with a population of only 60,000. However, Helsingør’s influence stretches through its medieval and nautical past, making it a place of underrated significance.

Aerial view of Kronborg Castle. Photo by Herrndorff PF via Unsplash.

The Kronborg Castle remains the highlight of Helsingør. Eric of Pomerania first built a fortress there known as the “Krogen” in the 1420s, and one can still see remnants of its walls at the site today. In 1574, King Frederik II commenced construction on what would become Kronborg Castle. However, a fire in 1629 burned down much of the fortification, leaving only the chapel. Near identical reconstruction of the Kronborg Castle took place and remains much of what exists today.

Hamlet’s world comes to life in the fortress. The English name of Elsinore remains widely used in reference to Helsingør because of Shakespeare’s influence. The city also holds an annual Shakespeare Festival, continuing the tradition from 1816 when Hamlet was first performed in the castle itself.

Beyond the many concrete rooms, the castle contains crypts and catacombs where the famous Holger Dankse statue resides. Danish legend says that Holger Dankse, or Ogier the Dane, dwells beneath Kronborg Castle, sleeping until Denmark needs saving from great peril. Journey through this underground maze to find his legendary residence.

The statue of Holger Danske in the catacombs beneath Kronborg Castle. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Outside and 4 kilometers across the Øresund sound sits Helsingborg, Sweden. A ferry connects the two cities, and their closeness allows one to see the other country in the distance. Denmark controlled the Øresund sound for hundreds of years. Ships sailing to the Baltic Sea through this passage paid tolls at Kronborg Castle from 1429 to 1857, making Helsingør one of the most important towns in Europe during this time; 1.8 million ships passed through the sound during those years.

Helsingborg, Sweden in the distance from Helsingør. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Helsingør gained further prominence during WWII with the “Elsinore Sewing Club.” In 1943, a bookbinder, reporter, detective, bookkeeper, and physician founded an underground resistance operation codenamed the Elsinore Sewing Club to save Jews facing deportation by the Nazis. The club organized the transportation of Jews across the Øresund to neutral Sweden, successfully saving hundreds of people.

Today, Helsingør brings its past to the present in a renaissance of historical culture. Walk the medieval roads and cramped alleyways to meet the Kronborg Culture Harbor, which connects the town, castle, and coast in a modern and cultural center. Explore the nearby M/S Maritime Museum, Helsingør’s City Museum, or the Værftets Madmarked Food Market. Step into the Elsinore of Hamlet and witness the reality beyond the setting or watch the slumber of one of Denmark’s biggest folktales at Kronborg Castle. From the coast, wave hello to Sweden and see the waters crossed by those saved by the Elsinore Sewing Club. To experience a small city with profound influence, look to Helsingør.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.