Narwhal tusk or unicorn horn: The ceremonial throne of Denmark.

The Ceremonial Throne of Denmark Passes Off Narwhal Tusks as Unicorn Horns

The Ceremonial Throne of Denmark Passes Off Narwhal Tusks as Unicorn Horns

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
June 23 2015 11:46 AM

Unicorn Horns and the Throne of Denmark

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With its exposed “unicorn” horn and life-size silver lions, the Throne of Denmark is a serious contender for the title of most ostentatious throne. 

Constructed in the late 1600s—long after unicorns supposedly missed the Ark—the physical seat of Denmark’s power is a grand throne straight out of a fantasy novel. The regal white throne was originally built as a large wooden chair with arches and an intricate canopy. Extravagant flourishes came in the form of spiraling legs and spokes, which were fabled to be made of actual unicorn horn.


In reality, no mythical beasts were harmed in the making of the furniture. The horns were narwhal tusks, passed off as the product of a magical horse. Gilded figures who perch on the arm and backrest of the throne were eventually put in place, adding an extra level of luxury to the seat, but much of its notoriety still stems from the seemingly magical building material.  

The throne was inspired by the biblical Throne of Solomon, which was fabled to be guarded by 12 lions, and to reflect that aspect, the throne is always accompanied by three massive silver lions. The life-size sculptures are arrayed around the throne in resting positions and feature solid gold eyes, manes, and rumps. 

The Throne of Denmark was mainly used for coronation ceremonies before they were largely omitted from the country's royal practices. Now the magical seat is simply a wondrous decoration piece in the Castle of Rosenborg, even though it still acts as the representative seat of the monarchy.

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Eric Grundhauser is a head writer and editor at Atlas Obscura. He lives in Brooklyn with his comic book collection. Follow him on Twitter.