Denmark’s Museet for Søfart, the Maritime Museum of Denmark, sits in the shadow of historic Kronborg Castle—the home of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, in Shakespeare’s brilliant tragedy—and is a must-see attraction for visitors to the country. Between the mid-15th and 19th centuries, Kronborg’s guns commanded the Øresund, the narrow shipping channel between Denmark and Sweden that connects the Baltic and North seas. The tolls collected for unmolested passages through the Sund explain the small kingdom’s wealth and enduring role as a great maritime power. That role continues to this day: Danish-flagged ships currently carry one-tenth of all oceangoing commerce, and a quarter of all trade with China is carried in Danish vessels.
Located in Helsingør, a distant suburb of Copenhagen, the century-old museum was rehoused in 2013 entirely below ground, around the margins of a handsomely repurposed and rebuilt ship-shaped dry dock just outside of the walls of this great Renaissance castle. The museum’s architects, Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels Group, have been widely praised for their bold design.