“But what is your affair in Elsinore?”

Yesterday I traveled to the Danish city of Helsingør, or Elsinore, the real-life setting of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. The play takes place in a castle called Elsinore, though the real thing is called Kronborg Castle. It was an absolute blast, and I was thrilled to know that Denmark has a castle old enough that it was the setting of a play written over 400 years ago.

To get there, I first took a train to Helsingborg (Sweden) before boarding the 20-minute ferry to Helsingør (Denmark). The distance between Helsingborg and Helsingør is the shortest point between the two countries.

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This is a photo from the ferry to Helsingør of the ferry back to Helsingborg. It was surprisingly fancy, with multiple bars and cafés inside, and people were drinking sparkling wine even at 11am on a Monday!
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The Kronborg Castle seen from the ferry.
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I really liked this Hamlet & Ophelia art on the way to the castle.
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At this point I was getting ridiculously excited! Kronborg Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Since none of my photos were able to capture what it feels like to walk around the whole castle and be in the courtyard, here you go.

This year, 2016, is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. For the past two hundred years – since the 200th anniversary of his death – Kronberg Castle has held a Shakespeare Festival each August. So my timing was very lucky, especially since part of the festival includes live Hamlet reenactments in relevant areas of the castle throughout the day!

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In the King’s Apartments of the castle, a distressed Ophelia surprises Queen Gertrude.
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Yorick the Jester announces the marriage of Queen Gertrude to the new King Claudius.
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The ghost of Hamlet’s father appears to him beneath the castle, asking for revenge.

Walking through the castle, following ongoing scenes from one of my favorite plays, was the best way to explore the site (a little bit like Sleep No More in New York City, but more light-hearted and with a better set!). I spent two hours in the castle and had lots of fun, making the $20 admission fee totally worth it.

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Hamlet almost kills King Claudius, but can’t bring himself to do it as the king is praying (beautiful chapel, by the way – I never pictured this scene in such an ornate setting).
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My favorite photo of the day: King Claudius contemplates his guilt in the chapel. (The actor playing King Claudius was by far the best of the bunch).
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‘En garde’: Hamlet and his friend Laertes duel in front of the day’s crowd.

Well, that’s enough photos of the actors. The castle also had a small exhibit on the other renditions of Hamlet that have taken place on-site, including plays staged at the castle and movies filmed there. Staged renditions still occur as part of the Hamlet Festival every year.

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Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh from a 1937 theater production at Kronberg. Olivier later starred in the 1948 film as well.
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Of course, Shakespeare had his own portrait at the castle.
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I climbed up the Cannon Tower (they tell you that it’s 145 steps) for a view of the castle and some of Helsingør.
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Saying goodbye to Elsinore.

I barely spent any time in the city Helsingør – after all, it really is known for the castle – or in Helsingborg, which is really only known for the ferry to Helsingør! Helsingborg seemed like a sweet harbor town, though, as I walked around there while waiting for the train back to Malmö. The town has a couple incredible churches and a beautiful city hall building.

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This seemed like a fun place! It doesn’t open until 10pm and looks like part of a Pirates of the Caribbean set.
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The waterfront at Helsingborg.

 

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