Marienlyst Castle, Danish Marienlyst Slot, is a palacial residence located in Helsingør, Denmark. It was named after King Frederik V of Denmark's second wife, Juliana Maria the queen consort of Denmark and Norway. The building formerly served as a royal pavilion of Kronborg Castle and was mostly used as a venue for pleasure and hunting. It was also used by the director-general of the Øresund Customs House, Colonel Adam Gottlob von Krogh and his wife Magdalene, between 1796 and 1847.
Hans van Steenwinckel, the royal architect, designed and built the original pavilion and parterre garden in 1587, for King Frederick II of Denmark. The royal estate was then purchased in 1758 by Count Adam Gottlob Moltke, who completely changed the original pavilion and garden with the help of French architect Nicolas-Henri Jardin between 1759 and 1763. The additions led to its present day architectural structure and façade. Jardin also redesigned the original parterre gardens, changing them to a larger, more modern garden à la française design, with symmetrical hedges, avenues, fountains and mirror ponds. Within the castle wall boundaries, these elegant garden grounds remain to a large extent intact, but outside, much of the garden has been lost, including the most renowned romantic landscape garden in Denmark, designed by Johan Ludvig Mansa in the 1790’s. This was mostly due to the sale of much of the original property by the Helsingør municipality which had purchased the entire Marienlyst estate at auction in 1851. One of the lot purchasers was J.S. Nathanson, who in 1859 built Hotel Marienlyst, the first luxury hotel in Helsingør, named after the castle.
Between 1919 and 1921, local Helsingør gardener Gudmund Nyeland Brandt, removed the last remnants of the romantic gardens, replacing them with an 18th century garden design to match the castle's classical architecture. For the most part it is these gardens visitors will see today. They have been part of Helsingør Municipality Museums since 1930.
In medieval times there was a chapel dedicated to Saint Anne in the area, which probably belonged to the St. Anna Guild in Helsingør. In 1438 the chapel was given to a community of Franciscan friars which had been founded in 1419, who then converted the chapel into a monastery dedicated to Saint Anne. Nothing remains of the monastery except the street name, Sankt Anna Gade in Helsingør. The monastery was confiscated by the crown during the Reformation of 1536. The former monastery was probably part of the royal property on the grounds, called Lundegaard, where an old stone house is known to have existed in 1576.
During the 1420s, King Eric of Pomerania created Kronborg Castle, the castle immortalized in Shakespeare's play, Hamlet. It was built like a strong fortress for guarding Øresund and ensuring payment of sound dues which were enforced by the immediate firing of all cannons on any ship that refused to pay. It was very effective and collected two thirds of crown revenues. By the late Renaissance, tastes had changed and Kronborg's high walls and bastions made it impossible to have a grand renaissance garden. An old monastery north of the yard was therefore chosen as the new location and named Lundhave after the royal estate.
In 1587, Hans van Steenwinckel the royal architect built a parterre garden and a pavilion for King Frederick II of Denmark. It was a three story building, in the northern Italian renaissance style. The first floor had an armory, that also stored equipment for equestrian competitions, one of the so-called noble disciplines, which also included fencing and dance. This was taught to all nobles at the time through the knight academies. The second floor was where the queen consort, Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, had her rooms and the top floor was for the king. Sadly, he would only have a short time to enjoy his newly built pavilion and garden, as he died in 1588, barely a year after construction was completed. His son, King Christian IV of Denmark, would however get to use it throughout his reign, coming there often and spending large sums of money improving the garden and planting rare trees. He would also keep many pheasants and other game birds on the estate, for hunting.
King Frederik III of Denmark took over the royal estate in 1648 after the death of his father and seems not to have been very interested in the pavilion but did have the new gardener simplify and restructure the grounds by planting a fruit and vegetable garden. Ten years later, the 1658 war with Sweden took its toll on the pavilion, but fortunately the garden did not suffer too much damage. It remained mostly unused until the end of Frederik III's reign in 1670. A depiction of the pavilion and gardens can be seen in Peder Resen's Atlas Danicus dated 1660 and published in 1677. In the drawings he calls the pavilion and garden, Kongenshafve (The King's Garden).
It was King Christian V of Denmark who once again brought life back to the pavilion, often coming to hunt and relax in the gardens. He was also the first to give it a complete renovation. This was done between 1680 and 1681 by Hans van Steenwinckel Jr. to repair the damage that had been caused by general aging over the last century and the recent war with Sweden. Steenwinckel Jr. kept to his father's original drawings, making only a few minor cosmetic changes, like the addition of Christian V's monogram and the year 1681.
From 1699 till 1723, the pavilion was owned by Frederick IV of Denmark who renovated it between 1716 and 1717. The king would not return after his marriage to Anne Sophie Reventlow on April 4, 1721. Frederick V of Denmark decided in 1747 to lease Lundhave for four years to Lieutenant Burghof and then, in 1751, sold the property to Johannes G. Putscher, a citizen of Helsingør.
Lord Chamberlain, Count Adam Gottlob Moltke purchased Lundhave in 1758. It is believed he acted on Frederik V's behalf as the deed was issued to the king in 1760 and kept secret until his death in 1766. During these years, Count Moltke completely changed Frederik II's pavilion with the help of French architect Nicolas-Henri Jardin, whose additions led to its present day architectural structure and façade.
Jardin's initial instructions were to preserve the original pavilion, but he decided to build extensions on either side of the original building, thus creating a palace. They would be of the same height and depth but pulled back a little so as to allow the original pavilion to stand out in relation to the additions. The original lines were preserved and the entire building was brought together visually by a strong rotating main cornice, crowned by a balustrade around the flat roof. The building's exterior also had horizontal bands of polished stone, medallions, festive additions over the windows and arcades on the second floor, emphasizing the classical architecture that Jardin had introduced to Denmark. The interior decoration had a number of prestigious Louis XVI interiors created by artists such as painter Carl Gustaf Pilo, decorators Joseph Christian Lillie, Johan Edvard Mandelberg and sculptor Simon Carl Stanley. The parterre gardens were changed to a larger garden à la française design, with symmetrical hedging, avenues, boxwood hedges, fountains and mirror ponds.
King Frederik V only had a few years to enjoy their work as he died in 1766 after which Queen Juliana Maria took possession of the castle. It was renamed Marienlyst (Mary's Delight) in her honor and in the 1790s she had a romantic garden laid out with winding paths, folleys, including tumuli, hermit cottages and a medieval style Gothic tower. She would use the castle often until her death in 1796.
During the transition period after her death, there was talk of Crown Prince Frederik taking up residence there but it was not to be. Instead, between 1796 and 1847, it became the residence of the director-general of Øresund Customs House, Colonel Adam Gottlob von Krogh and his wife Magdalene. He built a small thatched half-timbered house, and Krogh's garden in a little grove on the property in 1800. The building is no longer visible but parts of the small stone fence around the garden can still be seen. Close to the garden is Magdalene’s Hill where von Krogh set up a monument in the 1830’s honoring his wife. He died in 1839, but his widow remained in residence until her death in 1847.
In his 1824 book Denmark Delineated, Andreas Andersen Feldborg referred to the romantic gardens: Hamlet's garden is the favorite promenade of the inhabitants of Elsinore (Helsingør). It is generally filled with groups of elegant females and lovely children, whose manners and appearance bear pleasing testimony to the state of society in this part of his Danish Majesty's dominions. Just two years later, a young Hans Christian Andersen also writes about Marienlyst, during a class outing whilst at grammar school in Helsingør. It is worth noting that his youthful excitement shows that he had yet to travel abroad very much: Yesterday I was with Meisling in Marienlyst; oh, it's one of the finest I've seen! Where sea and the whole countryside is lovely. Meisling says that the whole coast here is similar to that of Naples; the glorious hills are there in the garden, everything seems like Switzerland, and I felt so unspeakably happy, oh, one must become a poet or artist to see the beautiful nature. O Benefactor, Thanks! Thank you! for every happy moment! Life is Wonderful!
The entire property was offered for sale at public auction by King Frederick VII of Denmark in 1851. The Helsingør municipality purchased it for 32,000 Rigsbankdaler, parceling out most of the land, then renting out the castle to J.S. Nathanson with his nearby Marienlyst Health Spa and Bathing House (Marienlyst Kur og Søbad). He renovated the castle, making it part of his resort. The connection to the health spa closed in 1896 and, in 1904, the castle was rented out as accommodation for three families.
The park was converted to its present appearance between 1919 and 1921 under the leadership of local gardener Gudmund Nyeland Brandt. It would not be a reconstruction of the Jardin gardens but instead a reinterpretation of 17th century neoclassical style, appropriate to castle's classical design.
In 1930, the Town Museum moved into the basement and, in 1940, the whole building was taken over by the museum. After thorough restoration in 1953 by architect Volmars Drosted, Marienlyst was used as offices for Helsingør City Council.
Marienlyst Castle is operated today as a branch of the Helsingør Municipality Museums. The castle has a permanent exhibition of paintings and Helsingør silver from the 18th and 19th centuries. They have over the years also organized temporary exhibitions, mainly dealing with the history of art. The painting exhibitions include William Petersen's a forgotten golden age of painting and marine painter Carl Frederick Sørensen. Within the Danish handicraft exhibitions have been shown The Danish Brooch, The Ceramic Jug and Beast of Law.