Christiansborg palace is located in central Copenhagen on the island of Slotsholmen. It is home to the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister’s office, The Supreme Court and the office of Queen Margarethe II, including the Royal Reception Room. Christiansborg is thus the most important building in Denmark, being home to the executive power, the legislative power, and the judicial power. It is the only building in the world to house all of the state’s branches of government.
The site of Christiansborg is very rich in history, as it was used throughout history as the home of the time’s monarch or regent.
In 1167 the Bishop Absalon of Roskilde, the founder of Copenhagen, had his castle built there. It was composed of a large wall that enclosed an inner courtyard, the Bishop’s palace, a chapel and several smaller buildings.
After the death of Bishop Absalon in 1201, the castle and the city of Copenhagen became property of the Bishops of Roskilde, but a few decades later relations between the bishops and royalty became brittle and the ownership of the castle and city were constantly contested. Furthermore, the city was constantly being attacked by pirates and between 1249 and 1259 the castle was occupied and plundered.
After King Valdemar IV was defeated in 1370 by the Hanseatic League, Absalon’s castle was dismantled and only ruins stood on the island of Slotsholmen.
In the late 14th century a new castle was built and named Copenhagen Castle. It was similar in structure to Absalon’s castle, but it had a curtain wall that was surrounded by a moat and a large solid tower at the entrance.
In 1417, King Eric VII usurped the rights to the castle and from then on it was occupied only by the king. As the years passed, it became clear that the plethora of changes that each King brought to the castle hadn’t done it well, and in 1731 Copenhagen Castle was demolished to make room for the first iteration of Christiansborg. The ruins of Absalon’s castle and Copenhagen castle were excavated and can be seen today in the subterranean passages of the present Christiansborg.
The first Christiansborg palace was built between 1733 and 1745 by the architect Elias David Hausser. It was an impressive complex which included a magnificent baroque palace, show grounds and a chapel as well as multiple smaller buildings and it was the largest palace in northern Europe at the time.
In 1794 the palace and chapel burned down, but the showgrounds were saved.
The second Christiansborg started being built in 1803 and finished in 1828. In that time, the Royal family was living in temporary accommodations at Amalienborg palace, but by the time the Christiansborg palace was finished, King Frederick VI had decided that he did not want to live there, so the only king to have lived there was King Frederick VII, between 1852 and 1863.
The second Christiansborg burned down in 1884 and the showgrounds were saved again along with Hansen’s chapel.
The third Christiansborg and the current one was built between 1907 and 1928 in neo-baroque style with reinforced concrete and granite-covered facades. The original roof was tiled but later replaced with copper in 1938.
A weather vane with two crowns was later added to the tower, and at 106 meters became the tallest tower in the city.