If you want to use this site please update your browser!
22.10.2020

The Ruins Under Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen

When the current Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen was built, the National Museum took care of the excavation and protection of the ruins of the oldest predecessors of the palace, the Castle of Bishop Absalon in 1167 and the Castle of Copenhagen, which replaced it.

Castle of Absalon in was the Enrichment on an island from Slotsholmen in Copenhagen, located on the site of the later castle of Copenhagen and Christiansborg Palace . According to chronicler Saxon Grammar, the castle was founded by Bishop Absalon in 1167 to protect the fledgling city of Copenhagen. The castle existed for 200 years before it was destroyed in 1369 by the Hanseatic League, which first occupied and looted it and then completely destroyed it.

The castle consisted of a curtain wall surrounding a closed courtyard with several buildings such as the Bishop's Residence, a chapel and several secondary buildings. The ruins of the Absalon Castle can be seen today in the underground excavations under Christiansborg Palace.

According to chronicler Saxon Grammar, the castle of Absalon - sometimes also called "Castle of the Bishop of Absalon" - was founded in 1167 by Bishop Absalon of Roskille, who in 1157 received the city of Copenhagen and its surroundings as a gift from King Waldemar I of Denmark.

After the death of Absalon in 1201, ownership of the castle and the city passed to the diocese of Roskille. However, a few decades later, a fierce feud between the crown and the church erupted, and for almost two centuries, the ownership of the castle and the city was strongly contested.

In 1368, the castle and the city were conquered by a coalition of enemies of King Waldemar IV of Denmark, primarily the Hanseatic League, Albert, King of Sweden, Duke of Mecklenburg and the counts of Holstein. The following year, the castle was demolished by a peace treaty.

After the destruction of the castle, its remains were covered with a motte, on top of which were built Copenhagen Castle, and then the Christiansborg Palace. The remains of the castle were discovered and excavated in 1907 and 1917 during the construction of the current palace of Christiansborg. 

The castle was surrounded by a curtain wall of limestone from the Stevns rocks. The remains of this curtain wall are now preserved in ruins near Christiansborg, and the ruins show how the wall was built. The foundations of some houses inside the curtain wall and a well are also preserved from the castle of Absalon. The well, the so-called huge well made of hollowed-out oak trunks, contained during excavations several fragments of buildings made of marble, presumably originating from the church, which must have been in the bishop's castle.

Kristiansborg stands out because here, under one roof, you will find Denmark's modern political center and the ruins of the country's main medieval castle.

It was discovered by chance.

When laying the foundation of the current palace Christiansborg workers struck the ruins of old buildings and the remains of the curtain wall. Experts from the National Museum were called in, and a thorough examination showed that the ruins date back to 1167.

They came across the Castle of Bishop Absalon, once located on a tiny island near the Merchants' House. Walking around this underground section, you will get an idea of how the castle was constantly updated and developed.

The Late Castle and the infamous Blue Tower

Copenhagen Castle, built on the same site, was surrounded by a moat and had a large tower as the entrance gate. The castle was rebuilt several times. King Christian IV added a spire to the tower, the infamous Blue Tower, which contained only prominent state prisoners.

In the 1720s, King Frederick IV completely rebuilt the castle, but this complete reconstruction made the walls so heavy that they began to sink and crack. King Christian VI, successor of Frederick IV, soon realized the need to tear down the old castle and build a new one in its place. This new castle was to become the first palace of Christiansborg.

UP