The fortress was built between 1886 and 1892. It is the largest of the fortresses around Copenhagen, the only one with an infantry barrack, and the only one solely built through private donations.
This happened because of the disastrous defeat in 1864. The people grew tired of waiting for the government to decide how the country should be defended. These private citizens created a number of foundations, among others: “Den frivillige Selvbeskatning til Forsvarets Fremme” to finance the fortifications of Copenhagen. The foundation gathered 1,5 million Danish kroner in the years 1885-1893. For that money, the Garderhøj Fortress and part of Lyngby Fortress were built.
When the Garderhøj fortress was finished it was handed over to the Ministry of Defense. However, the fortress was only loaned out to the government, who had an obligation to maintain it.
The fortress was constructed after methods used in Belgium and France. The ruins of the fortresses in Liege, Belgium and Verdun, France can give an idea of the outcome for Garderhøj Fortress, had Denmark been part of WW1, as France and Belgium were.
Though Denmark stayed neutral during WW1, 50.000 soldiers guarded the fortifications around Copenhagen in case of a German attack.
When the fortifications were disbanded in 1920, the Foundation stepped up and allowed the army to store ammunition there. After the 2. World War the Garderhøjfort was used as a tactical exercise area for medics and other departments of the army. In the 1990s the Garderhøjfort became protected as a military and historic landmark.
The partnership of Realdania, Kulturarvsstyrelsen og Naturstyrelsen took initiative to revitalize the fortifications around Copenhagen in 2007. 175 million DKK. went into the project to repair the fortifications and open them up to the public. In addition to this, the partnership established activities for schools, families, education and gathering of historic knowledge.
On the Garderhøj fortress we have interactive exhibitions where you can experience the life of the Danish soldiers during WW1. You can man the play-turret, workout in the old gym, use the telegraph to send morse messages and write postcards with pen and ink. Furthermore, the Fortress gives you a unique opportunity to experience a fully functional twin turret from “Grusonwerk” with two 15 cm cannons. You can even try to push the tower into position if you’re strong enough!
The cannons are Finspong model 1887 from Sweden and we are allowed to fire 1 lb. of blanks from each cannon. This happens the last Sunday of every month at 12.00. The event is free, but a visit to the inside of the fortress comes with an entrance fee.