Christiansborg Palace is one of the most visited places in Copenhagen. And why not – you can easily spend half a day there. From the free trip the tower to the ruins, the chapel to the kitchen, the all-encompassing museum provides an excellent insight into the history of the Royal Palace in Copenhagen. The most visited part of the museum is the Royal Reception Rooms, where you can view the place where the Queen greets guests, holds dinners, and meets people.
- A Quick History of Christiansborg Palace
- The Palace Today
- The Royal Reception Rooms
- Visiting Christiansborg
- The Entrance Area
- Flora Danica
- The Queen’s Library
- The Queen’s Staircase
- The Abildgaard Room
- The Dining Hall
- The Green Room
- The Great Hall
- The Tapestries
- The Fredensborg Room
- The Throne Room
- Museum Components & Practical Information
- Information within the museum
- How busy does it get?
- Audio Guides
- The Shop
- Additional Information
- Should you take a tour?
- Museum closures
A Quick History of Christiansborg Palace
The first castle, Absalon’s Castle, was built in 1167 by the bishop Absalon, who founded Copenhagen. A couple hundred years later, the Hanseatic League ordered the palace to be torn down (the castle had been a huge nuisance to their trade in Øresund), and so the castle was reduced to ruins. A new castle was competed on the site in the late 14th century, and in the mid-15th century it became the principal residence of the Danish kings and the centre of government. Since then it has been rebuilt several times – in the 1720s Frederick IV rebuilt it, in the 1730s Christian VI rebuilt it, and in 1794 it was ruined by a fire. It was rebuilt again around 1828, but then burned down in 1884. It finally reopened in 1928, but the royals decided not to move back in (they had since moved to Amalienborg, the current Royal Palace). Today, Christiansborg comprises of an area for both the parliament and the royals.
About the Royal Reception Rooms
Today, the Royal Reception Rooms are used by the Queen for official occasions, including representative dinners, the official New Years Banquet, and receiving newly appointed ambassadors.
What You Can See
The Reception Rooms provided an excellent insight into old furniture (from the two earlier palaces), the extravagance that comes with being a Royal, and decorations by some of the best Danish artists, such as Nikolaj Abraham Abildgaard, Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, and Bjørn Nørgaad, who made the famous tapestries, the highlight of the visit.
When you enter the museum you’ll see two sets of stairs – the one to the right leads to the shop and luggage lockers, and the one to the left is the entrance.
Note: They do not allow you to take backpacks inside. Either store them in the luggage lockers or leave them in the hotel.
If you plan on visiting all the museums at Christiansborg (the Reception Rooms, Kitchen, Stables, and Ruins), you can buy a combo ticket for 160 DKK. If you just want to see the Reception Rooms, the price is 95 DKK.
Once paid, you enter an area where you need to put disposable shoe covers on. After that’s all done, head up the stairs and into the first room.
In the ‘introduction room’, as it surely feels, you’ll get to see an image of the current Royal Family (if you missed the one across from the ticket counter), and you’ll also see an introduction to the palace and an outline of all the palaces have been built on the same site. This isn’t an exhibition; everything is displayed on a banner.
Inside this room, you’ll find a world-famous porcelain set called the Flora Danica. It was a set ordered by Christian VII as a gift to Catherine the Great of Russia, but sadly she passed away before the set was completed. Instead, it was used by Christian VII on his birthday in 1803. The designs are inspired by the great botanical encyclopaedia, which took 122 years to complete and contains pictures of wild flowers native to Denmark. The encyclopaedia was completed in 1883.
The Queen’s Library
The next room you’ll enter is the Queen’s Library, which contains an astonishing amount of books that look both old and interesting (shame you can’t actually touch them). Among the books are signed first editions of famous Danish authors like Hans Christian Andersen. The library was started by Frederick V in 1756, and since then thousands of books have been added. However, this is only 10% of the collection – the rest are in Amalienborg Palace. Notice in the corner are little elevators to get to the top floor – fancy!
When the Queen is not using it, the Prime Minister is known to borrow the library to hold lunches or dinners for foreign guests.
The Queen’s Staircase
This staircase leads to the Prime Minister’s office. Originally, it was supposed to be the living quarters for Christian X, but since he never moved in, the Prime Minister’s office is now there. The interior is just like any old office, though the old royal dressing room still exists (we don’t see this).
The Abildgaard Room
This room is named after the 18th century painter Nicolai Abildgaard, who created ten portraits of the Danish kings for the Great Hall. The paintings were finished in 1791, but the castle burnt down three years later. Only three of the ten paintings survived, and they are now in this room. The one in the photo above shows Frederik II building Kronborg Castle – the castle now famous as the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The Dining Hall
When Christiansborg caught fire in 1884, the steps and handrails were saved out of the palace – probably because they were made from the finest mahogany. When the new palace was built, the steps and handrails were used to make the new banqueting table. The two large crystal chandeliers from the 1800s come from the Royal Palace in Oslo.
The Green Room
The Green Room is named as such because the velvet walls are, well, green. The Green Room is used for preparing food platters or as backstage space for performers when there is evening entertainment. The kitchen is situated in the cellar, and food is brought up by a dumb-waiter. There was a Green Room in the old castle, but it was used for awarding knighthoods.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall is the heart of the Royal Reception Rooms. This is the setting for the Queen’s gala dinners when state visits take place and evening events are held. The hall can accommodate up to 400 guests for banquets, and after dinner it is transformed into a ball room.
The tapestries are easily the highlight of the visit. The Great Hall is decorated with 17 colourful tapestries that trace 1,100 years of Danish history from the Viking Age up until the year 2000. The tapestries were a gift from the Danish business community on occasion of Queen Margrethe II’s 50th birthday in 1990, and they were unveiled in time for her 60th birthday.
On them, you can see wars that have taken place, important figures that have shaped history (including Hitler), and cultural icons (like the Beatles or Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’). There are Danish inventors, Danish politicians, Danish writers, Danish animals, and Danish places. There are bikes, families, industry, and nature. On one of the walls are two tapestries of the Royals – one is of the Queen and her husband, and one is of her two sons. The one of the Queen and her husband caused a bit of a stir when it was unveiled due to its suggestions of ‘Adam and Eve’.
You could spend hours here spotting famous figures, and there are apps and free books in the room that help you out (see below for details).
The Velvet Room
This room is named after the impressive velvet wall hangings with the Danish coat of arms incorporated into them.
The Fredensborg Room
In this room, you see the magnificent painting of the Danish royal family in 1883. It depicts Christian IX and Queen Louis at Fredensborg Palace with their children, sons, daughters-in-law, and grand-childen in 1883.
Christian IX’S Room
The room is named after Christian IX, who acceded to the throne in 1863 as the first King of the House of Glucksburg, which still holds the Danish throne. The portraits in this room are of the first three Glucksburg kings.
The Throne Room
Here is the most important room for the Queen – this is where she greets people. The Throne Room is traditionally important for any palace. The guests are taken through a series of adjacent rooms to reach the Throne Room. The Queen doesn’t sit on the throne, but instead stands to greet her guests.
The walls are clad with silk hangings from Lyons in France, and the ceiling painting depicts the legend of the Danish national flag.
The Throne Room is also where the balcony where the Danish monarchs are proclaimed.
Information within the museum
Each room does have little boards with information in both English and Danish, but it is normally no longer than a paragraph and doesn’t give a true insight into each room. They do, however, come with pictures of the rooms in use. That makes it feel more ‘real’, but the pictures are very small.
In the Tapestry Room, they have a box full of English-language books that provide a very, very detailed overview of what is on each tapestry.
How busy does it get?
The Reception Rooms are very spacious, but they are also very popular with both cruise ships and private groups – this means it can get pretty busy. Many groups go in the morning, so try and put off your visit until the evening.
There is an app available for the Tapestry Room, but no other audio guide is available.
This museum does require going up and down stairs.
The shop includes postcards, books, posters of the tapestries, royal related souvenirs (like a tiara), beer, wine, and christmas decorations.
Honestly, I’ve never quite understood visiting royal buildings. To me, these places just feel like a parading of wealth, and considering there’s little information on the pieces, it falls short. However – if you are interested in the Royal Family or just tapestries, then I’d definitely recommend it.
I would suggest buying a combo ticket for the whole palace, though – 95 DKK is a lot for what the Royal Reception Rooms are.
Should you take a tour?
If you are genuinely interested in the pieces, definitely book a tour. They run in English at 3pm.
Note that the museum is closed when the Queen or other officials need to use it.