Five Magical Shakespeare Settings

As we wish you all a Happy Bard Day and celebrate William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, we’ve got some fantastic news for those who’ve always dreaded Shakespeare at secondary school. If the last time you picked a Shakespeare play was when you were 16 and being forced to study the set texts and feel a little left out of today’s celebrations, fear not. As they say,  “One who travels a lot knows better than one who reads a lot” so why not experience Shakespeare through travel? We are taking you to five places today where you can experience The Bard’s universe without ever turning a page.  From Venice to Verona, let’s set sail to the Shakespearean climes.


“In fair Verona where we lay our scene”

shakespeare verona

The city straddling the Adige river in Veneto, northern Italy, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the setting of three Shakespearean plays: Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew. While it is not sure if Shakespeare’s unforgettable young lovers Romeo and Juliet ever lived, there are many elements of the story that have references to real places and historical facts of Verona. So why not get lost in the streets of Verona and experience this magical city with guided tours of Juliet's house (with Capulets family crest), Romeo's house, the 13th century gate through which Romeo left Verona in exile, Juliet's tomb, in the only existing monastery outside city walls at that time.

Palazzo Victoria Verona

Stay at: Why not stay at the Palazzo Victoria right in the historic heart of the city which blends Roman ruins, Ionic pillars and 14th-century frescoes with white-leather sofas, projector screens and walls clad in concrete and acid-green lichen for Modern-meets-Medieval mash-up in grand style?


“Venetia, Venetia: Chi non ti vede, non ti pretia’: ‘Who sees not Venice cannot esteem it”

With a third of his 37 plays set in Italy, it is no surprise the second city on our list is yet another Italian city. Seen as the capital of culture and pleasure in equal measiurein the Elizabethan psyche, Venice has played host to Shakespeare’s Venetian plays Othello and The Merchant of Venice.

Campo dei Mori

While the real Othello may have been a southern Italian called Francesco da Sessa known as 'Il Moro' or 'Capitano Moro', possibly because of his dark skin, if you’re keen to see a figure resembling of “The Moor of Venice” you have captured in your mind’s eye, statues of mori, including a famous turbaned man with a broken nose, at the Campo dei Mori should offer you a range of likenesses. There's the Palazzo Contarini-Fasan, known as "Desdemona's House", on the Grand Canal, and the tomb of Doge Cristoforo Moro, sometimes dubbed "the true Othello", another contender to the tragic hero, which you can find at the altar in the nearby church of San Giobbe.

Palazzo Contarini-Fasan

Let’s not forget the old Jewish ghetto in northern Venice where Shylock’s fellow Jews would have lived under state scrutiny. While the Jewish population is much reduced now, you will still find five of the original nine synagogues (two of them still operational), several good kosher bakeries, restaurants and bars.

Stay at: Exquisitely styled to reflect the inimitable allure of the incredible Italian city of Venice, the intimate 5-star Palazzina G (formerly the Palazzina Grassi) is home to 22 rooms, suites and suite apartments, some with a spectacular view of the Grand Canal,


“Honey, you shall be well desired in Cyprus”

Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello turns a whole lot darker after Act 1 when the action moves from the sophisticated and ‘civilised’ city of Venice to the wilderness that is Cyprus, incidentally the furthermost military outpost of the Venetian Empire in the Mediterranean and under threat from the ‘barbarian’ Turks. the location of the setting is thought to be Famagusta, Northern Cyprus, where the medieval citadel is referred to as 'Othello's Castle.'

Shakespeare never visited Cyprus, but he may have heard the story of Sir Cristoforo Moro, a governor of Cyprus in the early 1500s, whose young wife died on the sea journey back from Cyprus. Sir Cristofor was not a Moor, but his surname may have suggested the change of race to Shakespeare for his lead character, that gives his play such inner tension.

Arkin Palm Beach Hotel

Stay at: Located on s stunning golden sandy beach, the Arkin Palm Beach Hotel is guaranteed to offer you a five-star stay following its multi-million pound refurbishment.


Located on a beautiful golden sandy beach
Located on a beautiful golden sandy beach

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

Elsinore, Helsingør in Danish, is a city of just under 50.000 residents, in the north eastern corner of the island Zealand in Denmark. It is home to the impressive Kronborg castle, one of the most famous Shakespeare’s locales perhaps as the setting of Hamlet.

Immortalised by Wiliam Shakespeare, Kronborg Castle was built by King Frederik II of Denmark in 1590 at the seaward approach to The Sound Øresund. One of northern Europe's most important Renaissance castles, today it is a popular Danish tourist attraction visited each year by about 200,000 tourists. In 2000, it was added to the World Heritage List year by UNESCO.

Not just an elegant Renaissance castle, Kronborg is also a monumental military fortress surrounded by major fortifications with bastions and ravelins. Some of the historical rooms house collections of Renaissance and Baroque interiors, and among the most important attractions are the 62-metre long ballroom, the wonderfully preserved chapel and the statue of Holger the Dane, an important national symbol for all Danes. The legend has it that Holger the Dane will wake and defend his country should Denmark ever be in danger.

It is unknown whether Shakespeare actually ever visited Elsinore. However, a number of English and Scots players from his retinue performed as visiting actors at Kronborg and in the town of Elsinore and they could have been the source of stories about the castle that reached Shakespeare and which inspired him to set the play here.

Comwell Borupgaard

Stay at: Set in a North Zealand manor house within a 10-minute drive of Helsingør, Comwell Borupgaard offers a large spa, gourmet cuisine and spacious rooms with a flat-screen TV.


“All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis!

All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!

In Shakespeare’s eponymous tragedy set in Scotland, Lord and Lady Macbeth are a power-hungry 11th-century Scottish couple with ambitions geared towards kingdom by any means necessary. In reality, Macbeth became the High King of Scotland after avenging his wife Grouch, grand-daughter of King Kenneth III, whose brother and first husband died at the hands of Malcolm's followers headed by another grandson and his successor, King Duncan. Macbeth brought Duncan's rule to an abrupt end. On 14 August 1040 Duncan was mortally wounded at Pitgaveny, and died at Elgin Castle in Moray.

Although there are no sites in Scotland directly linking to real-life Macbeth, there are mentions of Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor pointing to Glamis and Cawdor castles. One of Scotland’s most impressive castles and the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Glamis Castle is famed for its gardens which are Scotland’s finest. Cawdor Castle, on the other hand, was not built until the late 14th century, three centuries after the real-life story of Macbeth is set.

Cawdor Castle Scotland

Stay at: The luxurious rooms at Kinnettles Castle consist of contemporary-styled suites in the main castle and the Gate Lodge. This hotel is only a 5-minute drive away from Glamis.