The oldest known fortified building of Helsingør is Flynderborg, an early medieval fortress situated on a hill just south of the medieval city. Around 1200, the first church, Saint Olaf’s Church, was built. A number of convents once surrounded the church, but now all that remains is the church building, today the cathedral of the Diocese of Helsingør. The oldest parts of the cathedral of Helsingør date back to the 13th century and tell us that the fishermen’s village, as Helsingør was then, had grown to a town of importance.
Helsingør as it is known today was founded in the 1420s by the Danish king Eric of Pomerania. He established the Sound Dues in 1429, meaning all foreign ships passing through the strait had to pay a toll, which constituted up to two-thirds of Denmark’s state income. With this income Eric of Pomerania built the castle Krogen. The castle was expanded in the 1580s and renamed Kronborg. All ships had to stop in Helsingør to get their cargo taxed and pay a toll to the Danish Crown, but it also generated a significant trade for the town. In 1672 Helsingør had grown into the third biggest town in Denmark.
While most of the Hamlet hungry crowds head straight for the castle, the old city centre north-west of the station surrounding the church, is well worth a visit in itself. The enormous wealth that flowed through the city in the old days, is highly visible with many grand, often colorful, old houses flanking the narrow streets, a few them has preserved the old cobblestone pavement. The lively harbour can also be worth a look if you need to kill some time.
According to legend, Holger or Ogier the Dane, son of King Godfred (king of the Danes 804-810), is a great warrior who served Charlemagne and led his troops to victory against the Arabs, he was then taken to Avalon by the sorceress Morgan le Fay, from where he returns after two hundred years to save France. After the battle he walked away, and sat down at his current location in the dungeons below Kronborg to rest, his petrified body only to wake and come into flesh and blood if Denmark is in mortal danger. On that day he will gather all the remaining men of the land, young and old, and fight until blood reaches their knees, victory only assured when there are no more Danes than can be seated around a table, but then peace will last many a year.