Old town of Northern Zealand

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A short drive north of Copenhagen you find Helsingør. For Denmark it is a pretty big city but in an international context it is fairly small. The city has been among the biggest cities in Denmark for as long as there has been reliable statistics on the Danish population which is back to 1801. So there has been a city up here for many years and fortunately a good deal of the old city has survived till today.

The old town is actually pretty small – since a big town in Denmark a couple of centuries ago wasn’t all that big – it was only Copenhagen which had more than 100,000 inhabitants back then. And Copenhagen was by far the biggest city in Denmark – actually the second biggest city in Denmark was Charlotte Amalie which had around 10,000 inhabitants – and Charlotte Amalie was actually located in the Danish West Indies Island which is now the US Virgin Islands. So a walk around the old town doesn’t take too long.

Old house on a pedestrian street

It is nice to go and wonder around Helsingør – the first stop for most people when they walk away from the train station is Kronborg Castle which is the most impressive castle in Denmark and possible all of northern Europe. Most people will probably head there to have a look at the castle but it is well worth to go and explore the old town after the visit to the castle.

There are a lot of pretty old houses around the city and there is also an old church and monastery in the old town called Saint Marie Kirke which is located right next to the city museum of Helsingør which is located in an old hospital which was the oldest hospital in the town next to the old monastery.

Wondering around the old buildings you may notice there are a lot of shops which seems to specialize in selling alcoholic beverages in large quantities. If you have seen the alcohol prices in Denmark it is hard to imagine Denmark as a destination to go shopping for cheap alcohol – but Helsingør is in fact the top destination in Denmark for shopping for cheap alcohol. There is a ferry to Sweden which only takes 20 minutes and despite the high alcohol prices in Denmark the price of beer and wine is still much lower than across the water in Sweden. So on a daily basis hundreds of swedes arrive in Helsingør shopping for lots of cheap beer.


      1. Elsinore. The names of the cities then were very loosely translated. How Den Hag became The Hague or La Haye is weird… Must have been interesting to be there. Even though Shakespeare never went, he just picked a name on a map I guess, still. The “ghost” of Hamlet must run around the city.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Shakespeare had clearly some knowledge of the castle. A theater troop he had been affiliated with had been to Kronborg a few years before he wrote Hamlet.

        Some people even think he was at the castle as one of the actors of the theater troop – but there is no trustworthy evidence for this.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Amazing. I never thought theatre troops could travel abroad in those days. Molière’s troop traveled for a while but in France only. Thanks for the info.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I don’t think it was very common but at Kronborg the Danish king held his court from time to time. And in the beginning of his reign he had very deep pockets. So he could afford to get a foreign theater troop to his castle.

        Towards the end of his 60 years as king he had pretty much bankrupted the country.

        Liked by 1 person

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