Amalienborg (Danish pronunciation: [æˈmɛˀljn̩ˌpɒˀ]) is the official residence for the Danish royal family, and is located in Copenhagen, Denmark. Queen Margrethe ll resides in the palace during winter and autumn. It consists of four identical classical palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard (Danish: Amalienborg Slotsplads); in the centre of the square is a monumental equestrian statue of Amalienborg's founder, King Frederick V.

Amalienborg was originally built for four noble families; however, when Christiansborg Palace burned on 26 February 1794, the royal family bought the palaces and moved in. Over the years various monarchs and their families have resided in the four different palaces.

The first palaces on the site
Sophie Amalienborg, gouache by Johan Jacob Bruun (1740)

The Frederiksstaden district was built on the former grounds of two other palaces. The first palace was called Sophie Amalienborg. It was built by Queen Sophie Amalie, consort to Frederick III, on part of the land which her father-in-law Christian IV had acquired outside of Copenhagen's old walled city, now known as the Indre By district, in the early 17th century when he had been king. Other parts of the land were used for Rosenborg Castle, Nyboder, and the new Eastern fortified wall around the old city.

It included a garden, a replacement for the "Queen’s Garden" which had been located beyond the city's western gate Vesterport, an area today known as Vesterbro, and which had been destroyed under siege from Sweden in 1659.

Work on the garden began in 1664, and the castle was built from 1669 to 1673. The King died in 1670, and the Queen Dowager lived there until her death on February 20, 1685.

Four years later on April 15, 1689, Sophie Amalie's son King Christian V celebrated his forty-fourth birthday at the palace with the presentation of a German opera, perhaps the first opera presentation in Denmark, in a specially-built temporary theatre. The presentation was a great success, and it was repeated a few days later on April 19. However, immediately after the start of the second performance a stage decoration caught fire, causing the theatre and the palace to burn to the ground, and about 180 people died.

The King planned to rebuild the palace, whose church, Royal Household and garden buildings were still intact. Ole Rømer headed the preparatory work for the rebuilding of Amalienborg in the early 1690s. In 1694, the King negotiated a deal with the Swedish building master Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, who spent some time in Copenhagen that summer reviewing the property. His drawing and model were completed in 1697. The King, however, found the plans too ambitious and instead began tearing down the existing buildings that same year, with the reclaimed building materials used to build a new Garrison Church.

The second Amalienborg was built by Frederick IV at the beginning of his reign. The second Amalienborg consisted of a summerhouse, a central pavilion with orangeries, and arcades on both side of the pavilion. On one side of the buildings was a French-style garden, and on the other side were military drill grounds. The pavilion had a dining room on the groundfloor. On the upper floor was a salon with a view out to the harbour, the garden and the drill grounds.

Development of Frederiksstaden by Frederick V

Amalienborg is the centrepiece of Frederiksstaden, a district that was launched by King Frederick V to commemorate in 1748 the tercentenary of the Oldenburg family's ascent to the throne of Denmark, and in 1749 the tercentenary of the coronation of Christian I of Denmark. This development is generally thought to have been the brainchild of Danish Ambassador Plenipotentiary in Paris, Johann Hartwig Ernst Bernstorff. Heading the project was Lord High Steward Adam Gottlob Moltke, one of the most powerful and influential men in the country, with Nicolai Eigtved as royal architect and supervisor.[1]

The project consisted of four identical mansions (see below), built to house four distinguished families of nobility from the royal circles, placed around an octagonal square. These mansions (now called Palaces) form the modern palace of Amalienborg, albeit much modified over the years.

Moltke's Palace in 1756
As a royal residence

When the Royal Family found themselves homeless after the Christiansborg Palace fire of 1794, the palaces were empty for long periods throughout the year, with the exception of the Brockdorff Palace, which housed the Naval Academy. The noblemen who owned them were willing to part with their mansions for promotion and money, and the Moltke and Schack Palaces were acquired in the course of a few days.[1] Since that date successive royal family members have lived at Amalienborg as a royal residence and kings have lent their names to the four palaces; Christian VII's Palace, Christian VIII's Palace, Frederick VIII's Palace and Christian IX's Palace.

A colonnade, designed by royal architect Caspar Frederik Harsdorff, was added in 1794–1795 to connect the recently occupied King's palace, Moltke Palace, with that of the Crown Prince, Schack's Palace.

^ a b The Danish Monarchy & Amalienborg Archived 2012-02-06 at the Wayback Machine - In and Around Copenhagen and Denmark - Retrieved 16 February 2012.
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