July 7, 2016
If you are just tuning in, read this Great Scandinavian Adventure from the beginning here.
On the third day of my trip to Denmark, cousin Annelise suggested that we head out to the countryside to really get another perspective on Danish culture and history. We decided on two castles, a cathedral and the Viking Ship Museum, so it would be a full day of exploring. Søren, Annelise’s husband, would serve as resident historian and chaperone for the day. Having majored in History at Københavns Universitet (Copenhagen University), he was indeed an exemplary guide on this incredible day trip.
Our first stop was to Roskilde, one of Denmark’s oldest cities, and the location of the 12th century Gothic-style Roskilde Cathedral (to hear how to correctly pronounce in Danish click here). King Harold Bluetooth (read about him here) named Roskilde capitol of Denmark around year 960. I was so excited to see this UNESCO World Heritage site, which served as the Danish Royal Family mausoleum from the 16th century until 2000 and is the burial place of 39 Danish kings and queens, including Christian IV and Margrethe I, who died in 1412. The town of Roskilde is very quaint and quiet, it is almost unimaginable that its’ people live with this magnificent cathedral in their back yard!
(Visit our Scandinavian Travel Pinterest page for many more pictures of Roskilde Cathedral)
From the cathedral courtyard, Roskilde fjord is visible; the calmness of her waters concealing the history and saga of this land. Our next stop would reveal these secrets, but for now the Gothic architecture and Søren’s narration of the grounds had me transfixed. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to enter on account of the cathedral being closed to visitors for Pentecost Monday, a little detail we happened to overlook. We were disappointed, but on to stop number two.
In the 1970s Led Zeppelin sang, “We come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs flow. Hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new land, to fight the hordes, and sing and cry. Valhalla, I am coming.” One thousand years before this song about Norse mythology was penned, the Roskilde Fjord was the actual setting of such Norse legends. Vikingeskibs Museet (The Viking Ship Museum) in Roskilde was our second stop of the day. The permanent exhibition consist of five Skuldelev ships, which were sunk in the fjord around the end of The Viking Age, and tells the history of these ships as well as the history of Nordic maritime adventure during the Viking Age. Since Roskilde was a hub of the Viking land and sea trade routes, creating a barrier ensured an effective defense system.
The museum was small, but full of immensely interesting pictures and artifacts. There are boat guilds, sailing trips and hands-on boat tours, as well as, special exhibitions and demonstrations of maritime crafts, including boat-building, weaving, rope-making and maritime technology. It was all so fascinating!
Tune in next week as I continue my day trip to the Danish countryside. There is just so much more to tell you about on the final two stops to Frederiksborg Castle, King Christian IV’s elaborate ‘pleasure castle’ and the formidable Kronborg Castle, setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Since I could not go into great detail about the first half of my day-trip to the Danish countryside, below are some more links that you can follow to learn more about these amazing destinations. Also, be sure to check out this Scandinavian Adventure Pinterest board to see all of the photos!
Read more about Norse Mythology: http://norse-mythology.org/cosmology/valhalla/
Read more about Thor: http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/the-aesir-gods-and-goddesses/thor/
Read more about the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde: http://www.vikingeskibsmuseet.dk/en/
More Viking News: “Viking ‘Death House’ found in Southwest Denmark” (June 30, 2016)