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Christian VIII's Palace

 

Today parts of Christian 8’s Palace are used for representative purposes by The Crown Prince and Crown Princess. The Court of TRH The Crown Prince and Crown Princess is also located in this palace.

When The Crown Prince was younger he had his apartment in Christian 8’s Palace.

The Levetzau Palace (Christian 8’s Palace)

In 1794 the palace to the north west, also known as Christian VIII’s Palace, was taken by Prince Frederik, brother of Christian VII. It was sold by the entailed estate of Restrup, which had been established in 1756 by the late owner Count C.F. Levetzau. The family set one condition when they sold to the monarch, and that was that the Count’s coat of arms should never be removed from the building. It is for that reason that to this day the arms of Levetzau and his wife Sophie Rantzau can be seen beside that of the monarch’s. Today there is little remaining of the rococo interior. The first floor and the rest of the palace reflect changing taste and style of the residents down the ages – Prince Regent, King Christian VIII and King Christian X.

Read more about Christian 8's Palace here

Amalienborg was built in 1750’s from a complete design by the Master of Royal Buildings Nicolai Eigtved. The complex comprises four almost identical rococo palaces which, with the outbuildings, form a perfect octagon. Since 1794 Amalienborg has been the residence of the Royal Family. The interior of the palace reflects the differing styles from each period from the 18th Century until today. These interiors are decorated with the finest furniture from each era, and in its entirety, Amalienborg is one of Europe’s most well-composed architectural works from the 18th Century.

Eigtved’s Amalienborg

It is generally thought it was the Danish Ambassador Plenipotentiary in Paris, J.H.E. Bernstorff, whose idea it was to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Royal House of Oldenborg in 1748, by building a new suburb in the King’s name. In the same year in Paris, a major architectural competition had been held to build Louis XV’s Square - the octagonal square which, after the French Revolution was renamed Concord Square, or La Place de la Concorde. Frederik V, a keen patron of arts and culture, was immediately enthused by this idea. As an Absolute Monarch of his stature – no time was lost before thought became deed.

By September 1749 the King had approved the plan for Frederiksstaden. The King donated the old castle area along the inlet to the harbour to his citizens, as long as the time schedules and the precisely drawn-up rules for the palaces exteriors were strictly adhered to. The building site for each palace was donated free of charge to the chosen aristocratic noblemen to build upon, who in turn were exempted from taxes and duties. The only condition was that these palaces should all comply exactly to the specifications of the architects designing Frederiksstaden.

It was the Master of the Royal Buildings, Nicolai Eigtved who was appointed responsible for carrying out the practical plans to create the new suburb, much to the bitter regret of his competitor, Laurids de Thurah. Eigtved’s project, which began in September 1749, is very similar to the octagonal Place de la Concorde. The square is divided on its long axis (Amaliegade) between Toldbodgade and Sankt Annæ Plads and on the very much shorter cross-axis (Frederiksgade) between the harbour and the planned Frederik’s Church. Surrounding the square, four identical palaces were to be built and in the centre – on the exact intersection of the axes, an equestrian statue of King Frederik V, the Absolute Father of his nation, should be erected.

In 1750 building commenced on the palaces on the western side of the square. The four palaces were all built to be identical. When Eigtved died in 1754 the two western palaces were completed whilst the building of the other two was taken on by Laurids de Thurah, who was faithful to Eigtved’s designs. But Thurah too was unable to witness the completion of this major building complex in 1760. He died the year before in 1759.

Amalienborg becomes a Royal Palace

It was the great fire which destroyed Christiansborg Castle in 1794 which led to Amalienborg becoming a royal palace. Today we don’t think much about the fact that our finest palaces were built as four private residences – and this is due to the perfection of Eigtved’s masterly construction work, which in its majestic simplicity makes it one of Europe’s most beautiful royal palaces. Perhaps the cunning Frederik V had a hidden agenda when he donated his land to well-deserving nobles. When the King died in 1766 there was no chance that the properties could be returned to him.

When the Royal Family was homeless after the fire on 26 February 1794, it was very easy for their glance to fall upon the Amalienborg quarter. Apart from the Brockdorff palace with the Military Academy the three other palaces were empty for long periods throughout the year, because the descendants of the noblemen spent very little time in the city. It didn’t take the brave-hearted noblemen very long to agree to hand over their wonderful mansions to the Royal Family in return for promotion and money. The first purchase was completed in March 1794. It was the Moltke Palace and in December 1794 the Royal Family moved in. The King, the more or less mad Christian VII, was given the finest palace after the recent death of the Moltke family head. The neighbouring palace on the south east, the Schack Palace was taken by the Regent, Crown Prince Frederik (VI) and his Crown Princess Marie of Hessen-Kassel, whom he married in 1790. And finally the Kings’ half-brother Frederik moved into the Levetzau Palace. It was this palace which later became known as Christian VIII’s palace after Denmark’s last absolute monarch. Christian Frederik was the son of the King’s brother and grew up in the Levetzau Palace. After his father’s death in 1805 the palace was inherited by Christian Frederik who throughout his youth was rarely in Copenhagen.

Amalienborg’s perfect exterior was sufficiently grand for the Royal Family and in fact needed no additions for it to be recognised as the residence of the Monarch. They were also cleverly subtle and limited the alterations to a colonnade brilliantly designed by C.F. Hardorff, to connect the King’s palace with that of the Crown Prince. This dominant colonnade between the two southern wings was built in 1794-1795. The mighty ionic pillars of wood are covered by a thick layer of painted cemented plaster. Another less important alteration was the lifting of the four corner pavilions which flank the entrances to the square.

The four palaces, which in spite of the uniformity of building, represent four independent residences, have proven themselves to be extremely suitable for the continuing royal rotation principle. In 1839 Christian VIII succeeded Frederik VI on the throne. There had been a military academy based in the Brockdorff Palace but that was closed in 1827. In 1828 the palace was made over to Christian VIII’s son and heir, Frederik VII. Frederik ascended the throne in 1848 but even though he managed to win the hearts of his people, he never really felt at home in Copenhagen. He is the only monarch after 1794 who has not been very attached to Amalienborg. Later Christian IX moved into the Schack Palace (originally Frederik’s VI’s residence) and thus the rotation continued. Crown Prince Frederik (VIII), who reigned from 1906 – 1912 lived in the Brockdorff Palace. His son, Christian X resided in the Levetzau Palace. The Brockdorff Palace, which became the home of King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid, is today under restoration for the new heir to the throne, Crown Prince Frederik and his family.

(The History of Amalienborg and Christian VIII’s Palace is based on the book "Royal Residences for 1000 years" by the Director of Søllerød Museum, Niels Peter Stilling. The book is published by Politiken Books and was launched in August 2003)

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