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When the present Christiansborg Palace was constructed, the National Museum took care to excavate and protect the ruins of the Palace's oldest predecessors, Bishop Absalon's Castle of 1167 and Copenhagen Castle that replaced it.
Christiansborg is outstanding in the respect that here you find, under the same roof, Denmark's political centre of today and the remains of the country's principal castle of the Middle Ages.
When casting the foundations of the present Christiansborg Castle, workers struck upon the ruins of older buildings and the remnants of a curtain wall. Experts were called in from the National Museum, and a close inspection revealed that the ruins dated back as far as 1167.
What they had come upon was Bishop Absalon's Castle, once situated on a tiny island off the Merchants' Harbour (which is what København/Copenhagen means). Walking around this underground site, you will get an idea of how the castle was continually renewed and developed.
The Copenhagen Castle, built on the same site, was surrounded by a moat and had a large tower as an entrance gate. The castle was rebuilt several times. King Christian IV added a spire to the tower, the infamous Blue Tower, where only prominent prisoners of state were kept.
In the 1720s, King Frederik IV entirely rebuilt the castle, but as a result of this total reconstruction, the walls had become so heavy they started to give way and to crack. King Christian VI, Frederik IV's successor, soon realized the necessity of demolishing the old castle and erecting a new one on the site. This new castle was to be the first Christiansborg Palace.
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