Rather than being one palace, Amalienborg is four palaces originally built as mansions for four of the noblest families in Denmark. They were built with four matching rococo facades around an octagonal paved area, around the middle of the seventeenth century on the site of two former royal palaces. They were part of a complete district that was built in 1749 to mark the tercentenary of the coronation of Christian I, and the beginning of the Oldenburg dynasty. The district was called Frederiksstaden, after the King at the time Frederik V, who is also commemorated in a statue astride a horse in the centre of the Octagonal paved area.
The man who led the project was the Lord High Steward Adam Gottlob Moltke; he was also one of the four nobles who originally lived in the houses. However, less than 50 years after the four mansions were finished, disaster struck the Danish Royal Family when their residence, the nearby Christiansborg Palace was destroyed by fire in 1794. As at the time some of the mansions were not occupied, the nobles were happy to sell them to the Royal Family, and soon all four became royal palaces.
Christian VII’s Palace
Built in the south-western corner, this was the most expensive of the four mansions as it was built for Adam Moltke who oversaw the whole project. However, he had died some two years before, and none of his relatives had moved in, so they were happy to sell the mansion. Christian VII lived in the palace until his death in 1808; since then it has had more of a ceremonial use and has occasionally seen use by either members of the Royal Household or by members of the Royal Family whilst their palaces were being repaired. The palace itself was renovated in the 1990’s to mark Copenhagen being the European City of Culture in 1996. In 1999, Europa Nostra, an international preservation organisation, acknowledged the restoration with by presenting a medal. If you happen to be on holiday in Denmark, this palace is sometimes opened to the general public.
Christian VIII’s Palace
This is in the north-western corner and was originally built for one of the Privy Counsellors, Count Christian Frederik Levetzau. When the Royal Family bought the house, the King’s half-brother, Frederik bought the palace. However, it was sold with the condition that the old coat of arms was not removed – in can still be seen if you visit the palace today! The palace was given the name Christian VIII, as he grew up in the palace and lived there during his reign. It was until 2004 the home of Crown Prince Frederik, until his marriage to Crown Princess Mary. It is still the home of the Museum of the Royal House of Glucksburg and contains examples of many of the Royal Apartments with the original fixtures and fittings.
Frederick VIII’s Palace
This was originally built for Count Joachim Brockdorff, but when he died it was acquired by Moltke and subsequently sold to Frederik V. For a time, it was used as a training establishment for the military. However, it was renovated in the French Empire style in the early 19th-century and has housed various member of the Royal Family ever since. It is currently one of the homes of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary.
Christian IX’s Palace
Originally intended for Severin Løvenskjold, it was taken over by Countess Schack and her step-grandson Hans Schack, who just happened to fall in love with the daughter of a certain Adam Moltke who helped with the project! In 1794 the palace was taken over by the regent, but it was about a century later when Christian IX lived there and gave his name to the palace. The palace remained untouched between his death and just after the end of World War II; it was finally restored in 1967. Ever since then, it has been the home of the then heir to the throne Crown Princess Margrethe (now Queen Margrethe) and Prince Henrik.
Although many of the British Royal Family live close with say, Kensington and Buckingham Palace, this arrangement of four palaces in a square is far closer.