Denmark is what I call home. And of course I also visit my own country’s heritage. In 2023, Denmark just got another site and now Denmark has 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – 6 cultural and 2 natural.
Denmark is not a large country. If you have a car, you can easily tick off 3 sites in one day.
THE PAR FORCE HUNTING LANDSCAPE
THE CLIFFS OF STEVNS
JELLING MOUNDS & STONES
I really like this place. Okay, so I’m a little biased, since I work here, but still… I’ve heard many people hate their jobs. I really like mine. And I try to give the visitors a great experience.
Roskilde Cathedral is one of the earliest examples in Northern Europe of a huge Gothic building in bricks as well as 800 years of architectural history in one building. It’s also the royal burial church of the Danish monarchy hence you find 40 regents buried in elaborate sarcophagi in dark vaults and extravagant chapels.
- Remember to look for the clock with St. George and the dragon. The dragon gives out a squealing sound, when the mounted knight strikes the beast.
- On the gallery you find a brick stone with a paw print – a dog stepped on the wet stone before it dried
- Also find “Helhesten” – Hel (as you might know from “Thor: Ragnarock”) is the old Viking word for Hell. (Yes, English has adopted many a Viking word…)
- Bluetooth is named after the Viking king Harald Bluetooth, who build the first wooden church here and is allegedly buried here. The symbol is his name in Viking letters: runes. (We’ll get back to him)
I have also been fortunate enough to work with Kronborg Castle. This is actually both a castle and a fortress. Pointing its canons at Sweden it seems threatening, but actually that part of Sweden used to be Danish – and that’s how we controlled the toll being strategically located by the Sund.
The castle is of immense value since it played a key role in the history of northern Europe in the 16th-18th centuries. It’s an outstanding Renaissance castle from 1574 and has remained intact until today. Oh yeah, this is also where Hamlet takes place (although he was actually from another part of Denmark, but the parties at the castle were so loud Shakespeare heard about them).
- Remember to go up on the square tower for a great view of the sound.
- If you are visiting during summer, see a Hamlet play at the castle
- Sweden is just 20 minutes away by ferry
PAR FORCE HUNTING LANDSCAPE
This World Heritage Site is a bit difficult to understand, but that doesn’t matter, because its so beautiful and Dyrehaven is one of my favourite places in Denmark. Especially on a summer day or in the fall when the deer are in heat.
So what makes this area unique? This designed landscape is where Danish kings and the court practiced par force hunting. Par force hunting is not used anymore as it was cruel to the animal, but it was all the rave in the 1600 and 1700s. A landscape of power with hunting lanes in a star system, stone posts and a hunting lodge. The landscape is a fine example of the Baroque landscaping ideas in a forested area.
- On a sunny day, buy some lunch before hand, pack a blanket and some cold drinks. Hike some way into the area and find a place where the grass is tall and no one can see you and have a romantic picnic.
- If it’s cold, wear some good walking shoes and a warm sweater and walk around the area. In fall, deers will be out everywhere roaring easily to see, but keep your distance not to disturb their mating.
THE CLIFFS OF STEVNS
But they also have cliffs at Dover? Ah yes, but Stevns and the 15 km long cliff is the best place in the world to see the traces of the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs! A dark layer in the cliff show the remains of a mass extinction 66 mio. years ago – with the disappearance of over 50% of all life on Earth.
- A new visitor centre, The Stevns Klint Experience, has just been built. Its beautiful and you must see the movie projected on to a piece of the cliff. The main point is: that humans are lucky to be here!
- The church almost falling into the sea by the cliffs
JELLING MOUNDS, RUNIC STONES & CHURCH
Jelling is called the birthplace of Denmark. It’s pretty crucial for Danish history and this is the first place the name Danes are mentioned. The two burial mounds and one of the runic stones are from the pagan Viking Age, while the other stone and the church shows the Christianization of the Danish people towards the middle of the 900s. This stone was set by aforementioned Harold Bluetooth.
When I first saw the stones in school they were free, but now they are protected behind glass. There’s a free visitor centre which is very good and I’m not just saying that because I work with them.
- If you look inside a Dane’s beetroot coloured passport, you find an image of Christ from the stones in Jelling.
- Seen from above the entire tomb made up a ship. As you might have seen in “Vikings” buried in a ship was a great honour
- Viking helmets normamly didn’t have horns. Only a few ceremonial helmts with horns have been found
- The Viking Age is not a historically correct term. It’s actually the late Iron age. Vikings are mainly the warriors but this period most people were farmers, slaves or traders.
The Wadden Sea is so large a site it covers 3 countries: Denmark, Germany and Netherlands. It is in fact the largest system of intertidal sand and mud flats – in the world! It’s full of birds if you’re into that sort of thing.
- The nature phenomenon Black Sun. When 100000 of starlings gather in huge flocks blocking the sun out. Unfortunately, it was raining when I visited and my camera just didn’t want to do as I want.
“Let’s built the perfect city!” That’s what the members of the Moravian church said and then tried to do it. In 1773. The town was planned to represent the Protestant urban idea constructed around a central Church square. Not surprisingly, is the church the focal point of the entire city.
VIKING-AGE RING FORTRESSES
In 2023, a new site was added to the list. In fact 5 new sites. The 5 Viking fortresses built by Viking King Harold Bluetooth (Yes, him again now part of 3 different UNESCO sites in Denmark). The fortresses are all constructed as as a circular rampart. Only used for a short time, they were built as part of the defences for a military fortification or refuge in the 900s.
- There’s not much left of the fortresses. But head for Fyrkat – part of North Jutland Museums. They have activities and a reconstruction of one of the longhouses.