The Kings’ Gate

This is the southern entrance to the Citadel from the city, and also the main gate. It was built by the great architect of the Citadel, Heinrich Ruse, and was finished in 1663, which year accordingly is found above the gate.

It got its name from the fact, than one finds a bust of king Frederik the 3rd, who ordered the construction, on the outside above the gate. The bust is thought to be made by the Italian sculptor Francisco Dieussart, who stayed in Copenhagen 1643-44. 

 
 

The gate was for many years, actually for more than a century, also called ”Sjællandsporten” (Gate of Zealand), since it towards “Sjællands Ravellin”, the Ravellin of Zealand, as appears on the old post card shown beneath, stamped 1907. But the far more beautiful name “Kongeporten”, Kings Gate was actually the original name, and has now once again become its official name. The gate is built almost directly across the medieval coastline, so it must have demanded a lot of backfilling. For this filling, and supposedly also for the construction of the gates, Ruse bought stones from King Christian the 4th’s never fulfilled round church Saint Anna Rotunda, which made him highly unpopular with the citizenship.

The length of the gate is 21,3 meters, its width 3,5 meter and its height  4,7 meters. On the inner side it is flanked by to watch buildings, or pavillons. Archaeological excavations in 1941showed that they originally was placed 3,5 meters further towards the rampart, i.e. was in line with the northern front of the gate, and consequently has been taken further into the citadel. This reconstruction probably explains, why one finds the cipher of King Frederik the 5th on the northern side of the gate. The very same excavation proved, that originally there had been sloping holes to the gateway, that could be used for rolling hand grenades into the gate in case of an attack – which would have to come from the City. This suggest that King Frederk 3rd. would want to be able to defend against a rebellion too.
 
 

For the first 200 years both gate were kept closed during night. This was taken so seriously, that it was suggested that a midwife should actually live in the Citadel, since the guard would deny any attempt to pass during night, in order to fetch such a lady, or even a doctor, after the gates had been closed.

The two towers above the gate has been used for many purposes. For example it is known, that the artillery had 120 pounds of gunpowder in the northern tower in 1839, and as “Kastellet” got town gas in 1882, as the very last part of the city, the great gas meter was placed here.

 
 

Originally there were three windows on the inner side, all closed by wooden shudders, but as the old Main Guard of Copenhagen were moved from Kongens Nytorv in 1874, the old clock of the old building was moved too, and put into the façade of the tower. This made the center window disappear so the clock and its bells could be placed here. While still placed in the old Main Guard, this clock was rather famous in Copenhagen. If one was to praise the accuracy of his watch, he would say “It has been set after the Main Guard” – then everybody would know, that it showed the exact time.