Kastellet in Copenhagen
Kastellet, located in Copenhagen, Denmark is one of the best preserved fortifications in Northern Europe. It is constructed in the form of a pentagram with bastions at its corners. Kastellet was continuous with the ring of bastioned ramparts which used to encircle Copenhagen but of which only the ramparts themselves Christianshavn remain today.
A number of buildings are located within the grounds of Kastellet, including a church, as well as a windmill. The area houses various military activities but its mainly serves as a public park and a historic site.
Kastellet’s construction was started by King Christian IV of Denmark as far back as 1626 with the building of an entrenchment in the northern part of the defence wall of Copenhagen. The King had grand construction plans and originally a castle would have been situated on the site so that the king himself could seek haven there, but the plan was dropped on account of economic constraints. Construction continued with his successor King Frederick III of Denmark. After the Swedish siege on Copenhagen (1658–1660) the Dutch engineer Henrik Rüse was called in to help rebuild and extend the construction. The fortification was named Citadellet Frederikshavn ("The Frederikshavn Citadel"), but it is better known as Kastellet ("the citadel").
Kastellet was part of the defense of Copenhagen against England in the Battle of Copenhagen (1807).
Christen Købke (1810–1848), Danish painter associated with the Golden Age of Danish Painting, grew up in Kastellet and made many paintings of the area.
During the German invasion of Denmark on April 9, 1940, German troops landing at the nearby harbor captured The Citadel with very little resistance, thereby forcing the Danish government to surrender.
Kastellet was renovated 1989–1999 with funds from the A.P. Møller and Wife Chastine McKinney Møllers General Fund.
Kastellet is today a peaceful, protected area, serving as a public park, a cultural-historical monument and, still owned by the Danish Defence Ministry, as an active military area. Military activity in the area includes use by the chief of Staff, the Danish Home Guard (Hjemmeværnet), the Defence Intelligence (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste), the Defence Judge Advocate Corps (Forsvarets Auditørkorps) and the Royal Garrison’s Library.
It is located close to Langelinie, The Little Mermaid, the Gefion Fountain. It is a popular place to go for a walk on a sunny day, and is very popular with children on account of the many animals and birds in the grounds.
Kastellet's main entrance is Kongeporten (English: King's Gate). Built in a Dutch baroque style, it was constructed in 1634. The gate is decorated with a bust of Frederik III. In front of the gate stand two projected buildings, so-called caponiers, from where it was possible to keep assaulting troops under fire. Just inside the gate stands a guard building.
Norgesporten (English: Norway Gate) used to face countryside, and has therefore been built to a more simple design. The caponiers of this gate was demolished in the late 19th century, while the guard building has been preserved.
The five bastions are named as follows: The King’s Bastion (Kongens Bastion), The Queen’s Bastion (Dronningens Bastion), The Count’s Bastion (Grevens Bastion), the Princess’s Bastion (Prinsessens Bastion) and the Prince’s Bastion (Prinsens Bastion).
Smedelinien (English: The Blacksmith's Line) is a system of outworks, separating the inner and the outer moat, located to the south and southwest towards the city. It consisted of four ravelins and three counter guard interconnected by long, low earthworks. On Fyn's Ravelin, one of the namesake forges has been preserved and is now used by the park authorities. Another forge was built on Falster's Counter Guard in 1709. Rebuilt in 1888, it now serves as residence of military employees. When the Free Port of Copenhagen was constructed, the northern portion of Smedelinien was dug away, but the remaining part was put at the disposal of the City of Copenhagen in 1918 and now serves as parkland.<ref name="Kastellet"/>
The Commander's House (Danish:Kommandantboligen) served as the residence of the commander of Kastellet. It was built in 1725 in the Baroque style in 1725 by architect and master builder Elias Häuser who also designed the first Christiansborg Palace. It is now the official residence of the Danish Chief of Defence.
Church & prison
The Church at the Citadel was built in 1704 in heavy Baroque style during the reign of King Frederik IV. It was extended with a prison complex at the back of the building in 1725. Between the walls of the prison and church there were holes to the prisoner’s cells so the inmates could follow the church services.
Struensee awaited his execution in Kastellet’s prison. The English explorer and pirate John Norcross was the person to be imprisoned at Kastellet for the most extensive period. He spent 32 years in the prison at Kastellet, 16 of the years in a wooden cage.<ref name="Kastellet"/>
On the King's Bastion, in the southwestern corner of Kastellet, stands a windmill. Built in 1847, it replaced another mill from 1718 which was destroyed by a storm the year before. The original mill was a post mill while the current mill is of the Dutch type.
Since a fortified city needed secure supplies, including supplies of flour and rolled groats, in the event of siege, numerous windmills were constructed on the bastions. In 1800, a total of 16 windmills were found on the ramparts of Copenhagen. The mill at Kastellet is the last which is still working, while another one, Lille Mølle at the Christianshavn Rampart, was transformed into a private home in 1915 and now survives as a historic house museum.
Russian Empress Concort Maria Feodorovna, daughter of Christian IX of Denmark, got her rye flour from the mill at Kastellet. The Army's Bread Factory would send it to the Imperial Court in Saint Petersburg where she was served øllebrød every morning in the Anichkov Palace.
Ballet at Kastellet
Since 2000 the Royal Danish Ballet has given a free annual open-air performance at Kastellet. The event has originally taken place in August but will as of 2009 take place in early June. The performance, marking the end of the season, displays highlights from both the finishing season's programme and the upcoming season, including both classical and modern dance. It attracts up to 8000 people, sitting on the lawns and on the slopes of the ramparts.