Helsingør or Elsinore, city (1992 pop. 43,302), Frederiksborg co., E Denmark, on the Øresund opposite Helsingborg, Sweden. It is an industrial center, fishing port, and summer resort. Manufactures include ships, rubber, machinery, beer, and textiles. Known since the 13th cent., Helsingør experienced its greatest prosperity from the 15th cent. to 1857, when it served as the port where the Danish kings collected tolls from ships passing through the Øresund. It is the site of Kronborg castle (1754-85; completely restored 1925-37), which, although the strongest fortress in Denmark at the time, was taken by the Swedes in 1660. The castle is now a maritime museum and is also used for performances of Shakespeare's Hamlet, which is set there. Also of note in Helsingør is the Church of St. Mary (15th cent.).
Elsinore redirects here. For other places and things named Elsinore, see Elsinore (disambiguation).

Helsingør (in Danish; in English also known by the name Elsinore) is a city in Helsingør municipality on the northeast coast of the island of Zealand (Sjælland) in eastern Denmark. It is known internationally as the setting of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, whence the spelling 'Elsinore' originated.

The name is derived from *Hals meaning "neck" and thus here also "narrow strait", i.e. the narrow strait (Øresund) between what is now Helsingør and Helsingborg. The Rerum Danicarum Historica (1631) claims that the history of Helsingør can be traced back to 70 BC, but this information is highly dubious. The people were mentioned, as Helsinger (which may mean "the people of the strait"), for the first time in King Valdemar the Victorious's Liber Census Daniæ from 1231 (but they should not be confused with the Helsings of Hälsingland in Sweden). These two placenames show that the Helsinger may have had their main fort at Helsingborg and a fortified landing place at Helsingør, to control the ferry route across the strait.

Before the Middle Ages Helsingør was just a marketplace where people sold goods. About 1200 AD the first church, Sct Olai Church, was built. A number of convents once surrounded the church, but now all that remains is the church building, today the cathedral of the Diocese of Helsingør.

Helsingør as we know it today was founded in the 1420s by the Danish king Eric of Pomerania. He established the Sound Dues in 1429 and built the castle 'Krogen', which was made bigger in the 1580s and named Kronborg. The oldest parts of the cathedral of Helsingør date back to the 1200s and tell us that the fishermen's village, as Helsingør was then, was a town of a certain importance. At least, there have always been some form of ferryboats crossing between Helsingør and Helsingborg.

Kronborg Castle is a main tourist attraction. Hamlet has been performed a number of times in its courtyard.

The Swedish city of Helsingborg lies a short distance across the Øresund from Elsinore. European route E55 traverses the two cities; ferries connect the two ends.


Helsingør has a large number of foreign-born inhabitants. The largest immigrant groups are Turks, Arabs, and Roma. Helsingør has the largest concentration of Roma in Denmark; most of them living in housing projects such as Vapnagård and Nøjsomhed, 3 km West from the city center.



  • North: Grønnehave (Green Gardens), Højstrup and Marienlyst
  • West: Sundparken, Grøningen, Nøjsomheden and Vapnagård
  • South: Skotterup and Snekkersten.

In fiction

  • William Shakespeare's play Hamlet takes place at Kronborg Castle in Helsingør, which Shakespeare spelled "Elsinore".
  • In the 1983 comedy Strange Brew, which is loosely based on Hamlet, the protagonists are given jobs at Elsinore Brewery.
  • In Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin series, Helsingør fires mortar shells at the heroes in book seven, The Surgeon's Mate, as they sail past on their way to a rendezvous in the Baltic.
  • In Philip Roth's second Chapter of his novel Our Gang ('71), Trick E. Dixon in a fictive speech tries to claim Helsingør as US-territory and tries to convince the audience to occupy the area
  • In Bret Easton Ellis's novel Lunar Park the street on which the character Bret Easton Ellis lives with his own father-son haunting issues is named Elsinore Lane.
  • Several stories written by the Danish author Karen Blixen (or Isak Dinesen) take place in "Elsinore," including "The Supper at Elsinore" in her first published volume of stories, Seven Gothic Tales.

See also

External links

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