Every July, thousands of fans of the four-day Roskilde music festival fill the city literally to the point of a herring in a can. Which is not surprising: this event competes with the British Glastonbury for the title of the largest rock festival in Europe. Back in the day, they rocked out to Nirvana, rocked their hair to Metallica, and did eccentric dances to Arctic Monkeys. If you are not a fan of such music and similar festivals, you should treat with sympathy for their visitors, as well as warm beer, queues for the toilet and, in general, an atmosphere of having fun youngsters. And, accordingly, do not come to Roskilde this summer month. But the rest of the time the ancient city pleases with the excellent Viking Ship Museum and the magnificent cathedral, the burial place of the Danish royal family.
In addition, this is practically the only hilly place in Denmark, so the views of Roskilde harbor from the city center are simply amazing.
According to CachedHealth, Roskilde is a popular destination for day trips from Copenhagen, with only 30 km separating the city from the country’s capital.
Roskilde (or Roskilde) is named after its legendary founder, King Ro and the sacred springs (from Danish kilde), some of which have been preserved in the surrounding area. This city is the former residence of the Danish kings (c. 1020-1416) and the government, the capital of the country until 1443, and until about 1060 it was also a diocese and the most important religious center until the time of the Reformation. In addition, it was here that the legendary Roskilde Chronicle, the oldest work of Danish historiography, was written in the 12th century.
If you delve into the history of Roskilde (and it’s worth it), you can find out that the city gained fame in the Viking Age, being the capital of Denmark. For example, the year 980 is considered an important milestone, when the king of Norway and Denmark, Harold the Blue Tooth, ordered the construction of the first wooden church here. Later, in 1026, it was replaced by a stone building, already on behalf of a lady named Estrid, whose husband was killed in a wooden church after a hot chess match (yes, this is only possible in Scandinavia!). The foundation of the 11th century temple is still alive and is located strictly under the cathedral.
Medieval Roskilde was a thriving trading center and the center of Danish Catholicism. The decline of the city began with the transfer of the capital to Copenhagen at the beginning of the 15th century, the population decreased significantly after the Reformation, in 1536.
In a word, there are enough reasons to visit this truly “historical place”.
How to get there
Trains from Copenhagen to Roskilde depart very often, the journey takes only 25 minutes, the fare is 35.23 DKK. In addition, it can be reached by train from Køge (24 DKK, 25 minutes) and Naestved (40 DKK, 42 minutes).
For those traveling by car: Rte 21 leads from the capital to Roskilde. To get to the center, look for exit Rte 156. Parking is located south of the Strandberg supermarket and next to the Viking Ship Museum. Renting a bike in Roskilde is a great idea. You can do this at Jupiter (Gullandsstræde 3; 9:00-17:30 Mon-Fri, 9-13 Sat) and at the Danhostel for 75 DKK per day.
Attractions and attractions in Roskilde
The main attractions of Roskilde, as mentioned above, are the Viking Ship Museum and the Cathedral. It is with the latter, perhaps, that it is worth starting. Many people call this temple the most majestic and beautiful in all of Denmark, but UNESCO simply took Roskilde Cathedral (Domkirke) under its protection with the mark “property of mankind”. The cathedral has been rebuilt and completed so many times that today it can serve as a living history of Danish architecture over the past 800 years.
The royal tomb contains the tombs of as many as 37 Danish kings and queens. The opportunity to admire the remains of many once influential historical figures sounds unattractive, but it’s worth it.
Address: Domkirkepladsen, entrance 60 DKK, children free, opening hours: 9:00-17:00 Mon-Sat, 12:30-17:00 Sun.
Viking fans will squeal with delight at the amazing Viking Ship Museum, where you can see five of the most real ships raised from the bottom of the Roskilde fjord. The museum consists of two halls – Viking Ship Hall, where boats are located, and Museumsø, where archaeological excavations are still being carried out. Free guided tours in English take place every day at 12:00 and 15:00 in July and August, and at noon on weekends in May, June and September.
The most interesting thing is that today, thanks to the Museum of Viking Ships, exact copies of those ships are being built at a nearby shipyard. At the same time, not only the details of the ship’s set and materials are scrupulously reproduced, but also the construction technology using medieval tools. The results of the work are so successful that five built ships are used for tourist trips to different distances, including to Ireland.
Museum address: Vindeboder 12, entry May-October 150 DKK, children free; October-December 110 DKK. Opening hours: 10:00-17:00 end of June-August, until 16:00 all other months. Boating is available from May to September.
Another noteworthy museum is the City Museum (Roskilde Museum). Here you can get acquainted with the history of Roskilde from the Stone Age, through the times of Harold Blue Tooth, to the present day with his famous festival Roskilde.
Address: Sankt Olsgade 18, entrance 25 DKK, children free. Opening hours: 11:00-16:00.
Finally, the 18th century Royal Palace of Roskilde (Palæet) and its modern art museum (Samtidskunst) are worth a visit. We will not talk about the museum’s collection, it is surprisingly worthy and pretty, let’s say a few words about the palace. Built by the royal architect Lauritz de Tura in 1733-1736, the palace was used by King Christian VI during his stay in the city, and in 1835-1848 it was the meeting place of representatives of the estates, which served as a preparation for the democratic reforms of 1849. In a word, the place is historical and at least curious.
Address: Stændertorvet 3D, admission 50 DKK, children free, opening hours: 12:00-17:00 Tue, Thu, Fri, 12:00-20:00 Wed, 11:00-16:00 Sat-Sun.