Koldinghus is a major old castle dating back to 1268. It used to be an important royal castle close to the border between Denmark and Schleswig which was traditional a part of the Danish cultural zone but at times were ruled by independent dukes who were related to the Danish royal family.
The castle was a favorite castle for the royal family who used it to get away from Copenhagen which had a reputation of being particularly vulnerable to the repeated plague epidemics which repeatedly hit Europe for several centuries after the middle of the 14th century.
The castle was used as a barrack by Spanish troops during the winter of 1807-8 after Denmark were forced to join the Napoleonic wars on Napoleons side. Setting up Spanish troops in a Danish castle during winter turned out to be a bad idea – they were not used to the Danish cold winter so they needed to heat the castle using different stoves and fireplaces. This ended in disaster during the night between 29th and 30th of March 1808. The castle caught fire and was severely damaged. After the end of the Napoleonic war the country went bankrupt and there were no funds to rebuild the castle. It lay in ruins for many years and the locals used it as a stone quarry for their personal building projects – but there was a growing demand for a restauration project. The most famous proponent was probably Hans Christian Andersen who visited the castle in 1830 and suggested the ruin should be protected.
Finally in the 1890s the restauration of the castle finally got started. The castle were finally in a state where it could be used again in 1930 though the restauration wasn’t finished – it was considered to make it into a regional archive but the archive was located in another city. Finally in the 1990s the restauration was finished and the tower was once again towering over the city. Though some of the rooms of the castle still seem like they have never been restored.
Today the castle is a museum and the main attraction of Kolding so we decided to go and visit as the first stop when we were in town.
The museum is a bit of a mix of different things – and the first exhibition we get to is about the most famous king who spends a lot of time on the castle. Christian IV was sent here as a child to get his education here where he would be at a safe distance of Copenhagen which were considered to be frequently hit by the plague and other infectious deceases. When he was six he lived alone on the castle with his teachers and servants and one night he observed a fire in the city below which leveled a city block.
His days were pretty structured he got his breakfast at 7 and then had lessons until 10 when he got his lunch. The lunch was 8 to 10 dishes of which 4 or 5 were particularly well prepared. For the food he was served wine and plenty of low alcoholic beer. Then at 1 pm he started his lessons again which lasted until dinner time at 4 where he once again got 8 to 10 dishes accompanied by wine and beer. After dinner there were more lessons until bed time at 9. He left the castle and became king when he was 11 and ruled Denmark for the next 60 years as the longest ruling king ever. He got famous for his many building projects and one of his first projects was the remodeling of Koldinghus which he had come to love during his childhood at the castle.
We continue our trip around the castle where the nicest rooms are the old church and some large halls where a couple is getting their wedding photo taken.
The museums have various exhibitions as the main museum of Kolding. The collections are a bit of a hit and mix with something interesting and something just strange. We go around the museum and see some of the old furniture on display and other items from the area including some nice woodcarvings.
One of the highlights of the castle should be the view from the top of the tower. But the Danish summer isn’t cooperating. There is a strong shower when we reach the top of the tower and the view is blurry and we get wet going out to get the view – so we don’t hang around and go back down. After we have finished the inside of the castle the weather has cleared but we can’t be bother to go back up the high tower and just leave the castle and skip the good view.