The Prison Tower of the Northern Gate

 

The gate is erected by the architect of the citadel, Heinrich Ruse, and was finished in 1664, even though it did not get embellished by a year number. On the other hand we’ll find King Frederik the 5th name on it, probably due to a major repair during his reign. The two pavilions flanking the gate were housing the first main guard, which was logical since it was also one of the city’s gates. The one to the west housed the Officer’s Guard, with the officer commanding the guard, and today “Kastellets Venner & Historisk Samling” has its historic exhibition here, showing the history of the citadel. The eastern pavilion housed the soldiers of the guard, and today it houses the memorial room for “1. Regiment, Danske Livregiment Soldaterforening “, the regiment most connected to “Kastellet”. The German occupation force blew up the gate on 9th April 1940, since it was closed – and it is still the only gate being actually closed during night. Above both gates there are two small towers.

 
 

These also hold their share of History. The two above the northern gate (called “Norway Gate” (Norgesport) because the ravelin outside was called “Norges Ravelin”) were used as prisons at least since 1750, but there is no knowledge about their use before this year. From 1830 the southern tower was used as prison for sub commissioned officers, the northernmost for privates.

The southern tower, facing inward, was the more pleasant of the two as the sunlight fell through the windows (they were smaller then). The use as a prison stopped 1887. Instead it was made into a small flat for a married sub commissioned officer. It was, however considered too small for a family, so in 1914 it became a flat for an un-married officer, and was used in this way until the German occupation. After the war 2 corporals of the Quartermaster Corps were living here. Since the room are very cold, the use as quarters were terminated in present time, and today it is used for library by “Kastellets Venner”.

A few amusing stories are connected to these two towers: 1: The drunken Corporal.

In the guards report from 14th august 1883 we find a report by sergeant J.Daniel as the sub com. Officer of the guard, where he reports about a corporal J.C.F. Kjær that was delivered by the police in a most drunken condition, and very aggressive. Thus he was put into the northern tower to cool off. Soon after a civilian reported, that he had seen a soldier climbing out of the chimney of the tower, and crawled down to the rampart. It was quickly found out that corporal Kjær had broken the padlock, locking the iron doors of the chimney and had then escaped through the chimney. A corporal and 2 soldiers immediately went after the fugitive, who tried to hide between the bushes, but as they came for him, he jumped into the mound to avoid being arrested, but being too drunk for swimming they soon got him on dry land again and bring him back to the guard.

Expenses for the damage done was 4 Kroner and 40 Øre, but since he was degraded to private, and had already spent all his salary, and even would be dismissed on 3rd October, and already deep in debt, this amount could not be paid, and had to be written off. It would seem quite clear, what he had spent his money for.  

 

The Russian Sailor.

A Russian ”Man o’ War” had suffered damage at sea, and while repaired in Copenhagen it’s crew was temporarily housed in the “Kastellet” as of 29th November 1858. The Russians could not resist the cheap Danish Snaps, and one of them was brought home in a most drunken condition. At first he was placed in a coal room to sleep it out, and the next day he was formally arrested and put into the northern tower.

The young boys of the citadel had gotten well acquainted with the Russians, and as they learned about the arrest of one of their beloved Russian friends, they shouted encouraging remarks to him. As he noted friends around, a cap was seen to be lowered in a string from the small window. In the cap a coin of 1 Mark was found, and as a voice shouted for “Vodka”, the boys quickly changed the money into a bottle of “snaps”, that quickly disappeared the same way as the cap had come. Later that day the Russian officers did not understand why it took him so long to get sober. 

 
 Everyday Life in 1870