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HOME AT FIRST's

ADVENTURE

DENMARK

Viking Ship on the Roskilde Fjord — Photo © Roskilde VikingShipMuseum

Who’s heard of Roskilde, Denmark? You might ask your kids.
Europe’s largest rock concert gathering — modeled on Woodstock —
occurs there annually over four days at the end of June.

 

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN 2001 & WAS MOST RECENTLY UPDATED IN 2014.

 

 

Gothic Roskilde Cathedral has stood since the 13th century when it replaced a church built in Viking times. Photo © Home At First.
Gothic Roskilde Cathedral has stood since
the 13th century when it replaced
a Viking era church.

Photo © Home At First

But if that is more of a reason NOT to go to this pretty, upscale, historic town on Zealand’s Roskilde Fjord on the days just before July, then here are a few dozen reasons to add Roskilde to your Scandinavia tour itinerary.

R

OSKILDE traces its origin to the Viking Age around the 990’s. The area

was densely populated throughout

ancient times. Nearby Lejre was a central place of worship and a Zealand chieftain's seat. Viking King Harald Bluetooth is credited with the founding of Roskilde. He built the first wooden church — likely where the cathedral now stands — and is buried at the Cathedral.

 

 

          In ancient times, Roskilde was the capital of Denmark. Roskilde Cathedral has been the burial place of Danish kings and queens since the 15th century. Roskilde Cathedral is now on the World Heritage List.

The Viking Ship Museum is located on the waterfront of the beautiful Roskilde Fjord. Its existence results from the local discovery of five ancient Viking boats, now restored and on display in the museum. One great boat, the Viking warship Sea Stallion from Glendalough, has been built based on one relic Viking ship's design, and has sailed from Roskilde to Dublin, Ireland, and back. Watch boat builders working on the construction of new and replica boats of

Recreated Viking dragon boat constructed at the Viking Ship Museum sets sail in the Roskilde Fjord. Photo Mikkel Grabowski © VisitDenmark.
Recreated Viking dragon boat
constructed at the Viking Ship Museum
sets sail in the Roskilde Fjord.

Photo Mikkel Grabowski © VisitDenmark.

traditional designs and observe the archeolo-

 

 

gical conservation of more ships and ancient

The 16th century manor house built on the site of a 13th century priory became, at the end of the 17th century, the prestigious home for unmarried Danish noblewomen. Photo © Home At First.
The 16th century manor house built on the
site of a 13th century priory became, at the
end of the 17th century, the prestigious
home for unmarried Danish noblewomen.

Photo © Home At First

artifacts found near Roskilde. During the summer months hour-long sailing excursions in the museum’s Viking-style vessels are possible. The Museum Harbor is the home of a collection of Viking Ship replicas and other Nordic utility vessels visitors may explore.

Sailing on the Roskilde Fjord is possible by Viking ship, cruise boat, or by ferry. Rent a bike to take with you on the ferry and cycle back to Roskilde through the scenic Danish countryside.

Roskilde Cloister is an elegant 1560 manor house converted to a home for unmarried Danish noblewomen.

 

 

The Lejre Research Centre, "Land of Legends" — just 25 minutes away by train+bus, or 15 minutes by car from Roskilde — is a living open-air museum devoted to Iron Age (Viking) life which once flourished here. Visitors stroll through this theme park in a natural setting experiencing an Iron Age village, Stone Age encampment, a Viking market, and 19th century farm cottages, all staffed with costumed inhabitants and working artisans. The Land of Legends does serious archeology at the site, too, and invites visitors to observe and speak with the researchers at work.

Iron Age Village at the Land of Legends, the Lejre Research Center. Photo Egen fotograf @ VisitDenmark.
Iron Age Village at the Land of Legends,
the Lejre Research Center a short
drive or train ride from Roskilde.

Photo Egen fotograf @ VisitDenmark

 

18th century Ledreborg Palace was built by the noble Holstein-Ledreborg family. The family still resides at the palace, which they open to visitors for tours during summer months. Ledreborg Palace Photo.
18th century Ledreborg Palace was built by the
noble Holstein-Ledreborg family. The family
still resides at the palace, which they open
to visitors for tours during summer months.

Ledreborg Palace Photo

          Also near the town of Lejre is one of Denmark’s greatest manor houses, the 18th century Ledreborg Palace, called "the most romantic privately-owned palace in Denmark." The palace and its extensive gardens — still a residence of the family that built it 250+ years ago — may be visited during the summer months. Ledreborg Palace is a 10-minute drive or 20-minute train+bus ride from Roskilde.

          About a half-hour's drive further from Roskilde brings one to the Skjoldenæsholm Tram (Trolley) Museum, a refuge for relics of now defunct city tram systems in Copenhagen, Odense, Aarhus, and elsewhere. The

 

museum attracts railfans to be sure, but

also makes a fun family day out riding the

 

antique trolleys and bus and picnicking on the wooded rural site.

        A similar excursion is available Sundays from mid-May through mid-September by riding Denmark’s longest narrow-gauge railway (700mm, about 27in), the Hedeland Vintage Railway, a short trip by car, bus, or rail east from Roskilde. Trains may be steam or diesel powered for the 10km (6mi) round-trip journey from Hedehusene's Hedehusgård Veteran Railway Station.

Copenhagen: Roskilde is only 25 minutes away from the heart of Copenhagen by train or car. Denmark’s capital is easily explored by day-trip, while you stay snug in a small

Entrance to the Skjoldenæsholm Tram Museum includes unlimited rides on the historic trams and buses that operate on the attractive property. Photo Skjoldenæsholm Tram Museum.
Entrance to the Skjoldenæsholm Tram
Museum includes unlimited rides on the
historic trams & buses that operate
on the attractive property.

Photo Skjoldenæsholm Tram Museum

town seemingly far from the maddening crowd.

 

 

CULTURE IN ROSKILDE

The Roskilde Museum houses some 60,000 artifacts documenting well over 1,000 years of cultural history at Roskilde from pre-historic Viking times to the 1970’s. Open daily; admission charged.

Museet for Samtidskunst (Museum of Contemporary Art) "Word, Image, Sound" housed in the Palace in Roskilde, a beautiful building from the year 1736. Exhibitions, performance, film, dance, concerts.

St. Jørgensbjerg Church was a village church dating from 1040 — making it one of Denmark’s oldest buildings.

Gammel Vor Frue Kirke — another 1,000-year-old church originally a cloister for Benedictine nuns at the time the Vikings were converting to Christianity.


sarcophagus of queen margrethe I AT ROSKILDE CATHEDRAL
Photo Peter Søllner © VisitDenmark

 

You can include Roskilde, Denmark, as a stop on your
Scandinavian travel itinerary with
Home At First.

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