Now that we have visited the Kronborg Castle, where Hamlet lived, spoke to ghosts, and died, I think it is only natural to pay the surrounding town a visit, Helsingør (Elsinore, as Shakespeare called it). Helsingør is situated on the northeastern tip of the island of Zealand, Denmark, at the narrowest point (4 kilometers) of the sound, (Øresund) between Denmark and Sweden.
The area has been inhabited for a long time, and around 1200 the first church, Saint Olaf’s Church, was built. Helsingør as it is known today was founded in the 1420s by king Eric of Pomerania. In 1429 he established the Sound Dues, meaning all foreign ships passing through the strait had to pay a toll, which constituted up to two-thirds of Denmark’s state income. At the time, the Swedish side of the sound was Danish, therefore Denmark could control all activity in the sound. With this income, Eric of Pomerania built the castle Krogen that was later expanded and renamed Kronborg. (This is the castle we visited yesterday – Hamlet’s Elsinore.) All ships had to stop in Helsingør to get their cargo taxed and pay a toll to the Danish Crown, and of course this meant increased trade for the town, as the ships had to anchor here anyways. In 1672 Helsingør had grown into the third biggest town in Denmark. The Sound Dues were abolished in 1857.
A lil’ bit of trivia: The car ferry line crossing the sound, between Helsingør and Helsingborg, Sweden is the busiest in the world with more than 70 departures in each direction every day.