Hamlet Live photo: Tobias Fonsmark Kronborg Castle

Hamlet at Kronborg

Hamlet’s tragic fate is played out at the castle

400 years ago, William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet. The play became the most performed drama in the world. Hamlet is the story of the Danish prince Hamlet and his tragic fate. The playwright's inspiration for the tragedy was the Danish legendary hero Amled and the magnificent castle of Kronborg. 

Shakespeare gets wind of Kronborg and its reputation for the high life

Shakespeare did not visit the castle himself, but he doubtless heard stories about the famous castle. Some of his actors very probably performed at Kronborg while they were touring Europe. They were able to tell tales about the castle's decadent court life. Kronborg was a topic of gossip at court life. The playwright was therefore able to intercept the latest rumours from the castle - perhaps from two members of the Danish nobility - Frederick Rosenkrantz and Knud Gyldenstierne. They visited London in the 1590s and met the playwright. In 1601, the drama was performed for the first time at the Globe Theatre in London. Kronborg's halls, corridors and wind-swept bastions are now part of the history of world theatre. 

From Amled in Jutland to Hamlet at Kronborg Castle

In his Danish chronicles, which date from the end of the 12th century, the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus wrote about the Jutlandic chieftain son, Amled. This man bears a number of similarities to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The story was the inspiration behind Shakespeare's work, but the playwright chose to move Hamlet from Jutland to Kronborg Castle in Elsinore. The town was a cultural hub with court life centred on the magnificent castle which was enriched by the lucrative Sound Dues.

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Kronborg Castle