Behind Christiansborg Palace lies the impressive Riding Ground Complex, complete with riding grounds, surrounding stables and a riding school. The Riding Ground Complex was built from 1738 to 1745 by the architects Elias David Häusser and Nicolai Eigtved in late-Baroque style and is the only remnant from the first Christiansborg Palace. For more than 250 years royal horses have been stabled and trained here.
Immediately after his accession to the throne in 1730, Christian VI demolished the overextended and antiquated Copenhagen Castle. In 1733, work started on a magnificent new Baroque palace under the supervision of the architect Elias David Häusser.
By 1738, work on the main castle had progressed so far that it was possible to start on the other buildings included in the total project.
The Show Grounds are now all that remain of the first Christiansborg Palace. They consist of two symmetrical wings with a straight, low and narrow stable building followed by a high broad building and narrow, curved stables, after which a one-storey narrow end building closes off the wings at the Frederiksholm Canal end.
In 1742, the north wing became the first one to be finished. Building work on the south wing started in June 1740 but ground to a halt by the autumn due to difficulties in obtaining supplies. Work did not recommence until January 1744, now under the supervision of the young architect Nicolai Eigtved. Eigtved's superior artistic insight meant it turned out more beautiful than the north wing. In 1746, 87 hunting horses and 165 carriage horses moved into the new stables, the largest number ever.
In 1766-67, the architect N.H. Jardin built a court theatre on the floor above the big stables. It now houses the Theatre Museum.
The Marble Bridge and the Pavilions
In Häusser's original project the two wings were linked by a gatehouse at the Frederiksholm Canal end and a drawbridge lead over the canal. The Palace Building Commission was not completely satisfied with the proposal and asked two young architects working for the royal building authority, Nicolai Eigtved and Lauritz de Thurah, to come up with an alternative suggestion.
Their proposal included a permanent bridge over Frederiksholm Canal forming the main entrance to the castle and two portal pavilions flanking an open drive and closing the complex off between the two wings. Both bridge and pavilions were in the new rococo style.
Responsibility was transferred to Eigtved, who was the prime mover behind the project.
The bridge was extremely elegant - sandstone covered with medallion decorations by the sculptor Louis-Augustin Le Clerc. The pavements were paved with Norwegian marble - hence the name the Marble Bridge - and the roadway paved with cobblestones.
The pavilions were every bit as magnificent as the bridge. They were covered with sandstone from Sachsen, and the sculptor J.C. Petzold richly decorated the concave roofs with the royal couple's back-to-back monograms and four figures on each roof symbolising the royal couple's positive traits. The interior decoration was by the court's master stonemason Jacob Fortling. The bridge and pavilions were finished in 1744.
In 1996, when Copenhagen was European city of Culture, the Palaces and Properties Agency finished a restoration of the Show Grounds that had taken many years. The Marble Bridge and Pavilions were restored between 1978 and 1996 by architect Erik Hansen and the Show Grounds from 1985-1996 by Royal Inspector of Listed State Buildings Gehrdt Bornebusch.
Christiansborg Show Grounds is owned by the Danish state, run by the Palaces and Properties Agency and placed at the disposal of the Court and the Parliament. The Supreme Court and Theatre Museum also have premises there. Last updated:: Tuesday, April 09, 2013