When looking at tour books and web sites for Copenhagen, I kept reading “Rosenborg Castle” as “Rosenberg Castle” and thought, “Geez, here’s one country that certainly didn’t oppress their Jews. Quite the opposite. They gave them castles. I wonder if the owner is related to Rabbi Rosenberg, who presided over my bar mitzvah almost half a century ago.”
I immediately considered going all the way back across the Atlantic to my little condominium, digging up my bar mitzvah certificate (despite being atheist for the vast majority of my life, it’s still sitting in a drawer somewhere), moving to Denmark and claiming a castle.
As I related in my post on the Jewish Danish Museum, the Danes did treat their Jewish population well during the time of the Nazis, although Rosenborg Castle dates from well before that. But, to the best of my knowledge the Danes never gave the Jews among them castles.
To my great relief, I didn’t have to wear a yarmulke when I entered the castle. Being an atheist, I neither wear one nor carry one around, although I’ll put one on if one is provided and I’m required to do so. I was worried that I might be turned away for not having the appropriate headgear. Before you ask, yes, I do know. I worry about strange things.
Clearly, my misreading of the name does not have any bearing on the history of the castle. Rosenborg Castle started out as a summerhouse, constructed in 1606-1607, for King Christian IV of Denmark (Christian, well, that decides it, now doesn’t it?). He had it built in the middle of a park. The castle was extended and altered a few times, reaching its current length in 1615, but there were other renovations going on until 1634.
I have not been able to find out how Rosenborg Castle got its name. I don’t think it was named after a Danish Jewish person, but I could be wrong about that.
There is still a park surrounding the castle. If the day I was there was representative, it’s a well-used park when the weather is nice. As you can see from the accompanying picture, when I visited in late May there were some clouds in the sky, but it was comfortably a shirtsleeves temperature sort of day and the clouds did not open up on me; quite the contrary, it cleared up into a beautiful day. And it was well used when I was there.
Alright, the picture shows only the clouds, not what time of year I was there, the temperature, the later clearing up or how well used the surrounding park was. You’ll have to take my word for those aspects.
Viewed from the park, Rosenborg Slot (“slot” is Danish for castle as far as I can tell; there were no casinos at any of the slots I visited in Copenhagen) is smaller than the sort of building that I visualize when I hear the word “castle,” but it’s very cute. This red stone building was built in a Dutch Renaissance style, at least that’s what the web site said. I’m not an student of the history of architecture or the history of just about anything, so I depend on others to tell me these sorts of things.
The castle is open to visitors (for a fee or included with the Copenhagen Card). Inside you’ll find rooms containing a collection some of the royalties’ furniture, paintings, knick-knacks and bric-a-brac. (Royalties of days long gone by, not today; today’s royalty might want to hold on to their possessions.)
Of course, having belonged to royalty, those items are more upscale than, say the average peasant would have had back then. Although, with a few exceptions, it wasn’t as much of a cut above as I would have expected.
At least, that’s what I thought until I went to the basement, which was where they kept the treasury. Don’t miss that if you visit Rosenborg castle. Otherwise, you’ll think the royalty of a few centuries ago were not quite as well off as they were.
The basement and treasury have a separate entrance from outside. It’s down there that they keep the treasured jewelry and the gold and jewel-encrusted crowns. They are incredibly beautiful and pretty well what you would expect of the most royal of royals.
The basement also houses a row of wood casks suitable for fermenting something or other and a wine cellar that suggests that the royals who used to occupy the castle knew how to live.