Traditionally the abode of kings, and nowadays the site of the area’s museum, Sonderborg Castle also hosts a number of musical events throughout the year. This might be an unlikely music venue, however, having served as a location for royal entertainment for centuries, it has the locations to satisfy modern expectations as well.
Queen Dorothea’s Chapel
During the summer, the chapel plays host to a number of concerts, mainly revolving around the chapel’s organ. The organ, which was reconstructed in 1996 in accordance with 16th century traditions, was built in 1570 by the organ builder Hermann Raphaelis. The programme of organ concerts in the chapel can be found on the castle’s website under arrangementer.
The Great Hall (Riddersal)
The great hall used to be the reception room for guests to the castle, and the scene for many parties and dances. Nowadays, it is used for both one-off concerts as well as for concerts of the Sonderborg music union. From here you also have the added bonus of a marvelous view of the harbour.
Our first experience of music events at the castle was during our visit to Sonderborg in September last year before we moved here. This was a vocal and organ concert in the chapel, and was excellent proof that we can find good quality music in the area should we move here.
Recently we then attended an excellent brass concert following the annual Danish-German Brass Academy in Gråsten. The quality of the performances and the enthusiasm of the performers belied the fact that they had only been working on these pieces for a week! Ending the concert with Brahms lullaby as the castle’s clock was chiming the time was a fitting coincidence to this excellent concert.
At the moment we have visitors from China at work. On Sunday my manager was taking them to Graasten castle and I joined in for the visit.
Gråsten Castle has been the summer palace of the royals of Denmark since 1935. They usually reside in it for some time around July each year, during which time the palace and the gardens are closed to the public. However, there is free access throughout the rest of the year to the gardens and in summer the palace’s chapel is open for restricted hours.
When you arrive at the castle you enter a quite small road, and it is only when you turn the corner that you see the white splendour of the castle. Similar to Sonderborg Castle the castle is built on 4 sides of a big courtyard. Entry to the gardens is on your right and the chapel at the far right hand side corner.
Although the chapel is normally closed in winter, on the day we visited there was a baptism planned. We were allowed a sneak peek inside. The chapel is quite lavishly decorated, with a plaster ceiling painted in blues and golds and high bays around the church decorated in gold leaf. This is not the norm in most Church of Denmark places of worship.
The gardens are well-known for their flowers, particularly the roses. Since this was winter the flowers were mainly missing in action. However they still offer the possibility of a pleasant walk around green meadows and small lakes.
The gardens are also linked to the forest surrounding the castle through a gate. The forest covers around 700 hectares. If like most Danes you like a long walk in the countryside this offers you a good possibility on a Sunday afternoon!
Of course, visiting Grasten gardens in the winter time meant that I missed out on a lot of what the gardens are famous for. We will definitely be back in the spring/summer to cover this item on our 99 things to do in Sondeborg list properly!