The Baltic Cruising Region is rich with castles and royal palaces. Visitors can still see the changing of the guard in Copenhagen’s Amalienborg Palace, residence of Queen (changing of the guard daily at noon); and in Stockholm, where the main guard has been at Kungliga Slottet since 1523. Today, military units and bands from all over the Sweden participate.
Some of Scandinavia’s castles live on in literature. In Elsinore, the Dutch Renaissance style Castle Kronborg, built between 1574 and 1585, is the backdrop for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and thus it is known as Hamlet’s Castle.
Across the sound, Helsingborg’s Sofiero Castle in is situated at the top of a rhododendron ravine. During the first weeks of June, more than 10,000 rhododendrons are in full bloom all over the castle park.
Kalmar Castle is one of Scandinavia’s best-preserved Renaissance castles. With a history that stretches back to the 12th century, the castle represents more than 800 years of brotherhood and blood. Its present appearance dates from the 16th century when the Vasa Kings rebuilt it in the style of a Renaissance palace. At Kalmar Castle, guides often wear Renaissance clothing to further strengthen the historical atmosphere.
Riga Castle stands on the ashes of a castle built by the Order of the Sword Brothers around 1209. Originally named Wittenstein Castle (“made of white stone”), the castle was destroyed by townsfolk in the civil war. A second castle, rebuilt on the site, was destroyed. Reconstruction on the third and current castle was completed in 1515.
Klaipeda’s Castle Museum opened in 2002 in renovated underground corridors of an old castle. The museum features authentic 16th and 17th century exhibits.
Visby’s only castle was demolished in 1679. Not even the ruins remain. But 13th century church ruins do remain. Many are used for open-air concerts and cafes during the summer.
Speaking of churches, Rostock’s Kulturhistorische Museum, located in a Cistercian convent founded 1270 by Denmark’s Queen Margarete, features a remarkably complete ornamentation at convent church.