Elsinore Castle in Shakespeare's Hamlet: History & Overview

Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

One of William Shakespeare's most popular plays is Hamlet. Hamlet tells the story of a young prince in Denmark and takes place at a castle in the town of Elsinore. Learn more about the history of Elsinore Castle and test your knowledge with a quiz.


The setting of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet is the town of Elsinore, which is also the name of the castle referenced in Hamlet. The actual name of the castle referenced in the play is Kronborg Castle, a real castle located on an area of land between Sweden and Denmark in Helsingor, which is the Danish name for Elsinore. Although it is never stated by Shakespeare, it is assumed that the Elsinore Castle referenced in Hamlet is Kronborg Castle in Denmark because of its location. As a result of the success of the play, the castle referenced in Hamlet became very popular.


In 1412, Erik of Pomerania took the throne in Denmark. He planned to continue uniting the country and providing financial stabilization for the people of Denmark. King Erik created a fee for ships entering the Sound Duty port in Denmark. Kronborg Castle was built in 1574, after a fire destroyed the original castle. It was built as a Renaissance castle with military architecture to withstand destruction. In the 1600s, the town of Elsinore became a very popular city and international shipping center because of the toll established by King Erik and the newly built castle known as Kronborg.

Kronborg Castle
elsinore castle

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