Over the centuries Christiansborg Castle has led a rough life ever since the founding father of Copenhagen, Bishop Absalon, completed the first castle here in 1167. That one burned down -- and so did the next two palaces.

Christiansborg Slot was a royal residence beginning in 1416, when Erik of Pomerania moved in. The royals lived here until fleeing to more comfortable quarters at Amalienborg Slott in 1794. Christian VI ordered that the entire castle be torn down in 1732: He didn't like Frederik IV's aesthetic tastes, finding Christiansborg "an eyesore." But his new place burned down on the night of February 26, 1794.

What is left standing today is a granite-and-copper palace from 1928. It stands on Slotsholmen, a small island in the center of Copenhagen that has been the seat of political power in Denmark for 800 years. Today it houses the Danish parliament, the Supreme Court, this prime minister's offices, and the Royal Reception Rooms. A guide will lead you through richly decorated rooms, including the Throne Room, Banqueting Hall, and the Queen's Library. Before entering, you'll be asked to put on soft overshoes to protect the floors.

Under the palace, visit the well-preserved ruins of the 1167 castle of Bishop Absalon.

You can also see Kongelige Stalde & Kareter, Christiansborg Ridebane 12 (tel. 33-40-10-10), the royal stables and coaches. Elegantly clad in riding breeches and jackets, riders exercise the royal horses. Vehicles include regal coaches and "fairy tale" carriages, along with a display of harnesses in use by the royal family since 1778. The site can be visited May to October Saturday to Sunday 21:30 to 4pm daily (closed Mondays from October through April).