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West from Copenhagen, pretty Roskilde sits atop a hill overlooking Roskilde Fjord, once a crucial sea route for the Vikings. Though you’d be hard pressed to find many signs of it now, until the late fifteenth century, Roskilde was the capital of Denmark – the religious and royal seat of power with a settlement history dating back to the Vikings and beyond. Bishop Absalon set up a church here in the 12th century and an ensuing proliferation of churches, monasteries and convents established the city as a religious center, until their demise during the Reformation and the rise of the new capital, Copenhagen, signaled an end to Roskilde’s fame ...

West from Copenhagen, pretty Roskilde sits atop a hill overlooking Roskilde Fjord, once a crucial sea route for the Vikings. Though you’d be hard pressed to find many signs of it now, until the late fifteenth century, Roskilde was the capital of Denmark – the religious and royal seat of power with a settlement history dating back to the Vikings and beyond. Bishop Absalon set up a church here in the 12th century and an ensuing proliferation of churches, monasteries and convents established the city as a religious center, until their demise during the Reformation and the rise of the new capital, Copenhagen, signaled an end to Roskilde’s fame and fortune. Demoted to ordinary market town ever since, the town still retains two historic sites that attest to its former glory – the huge, Gothic Domkirke, a UNESCO heritage site and burial place of no less than 21 Danish Kings and 18 Queens, and the Viking Ship Museum, beautifully located on the edge of the fjord next to the town’s small but lively harbor and home to the enthralling remains of several Viking vessels discovered in the fjord in 1958. The quaint maze of streets around the Domkirke is worth a stroll through and the town, always busy in summer with day-trippers, is well equipped with shops and restaurants. Roskilde’s modern claim to fame – the Glastonbury-style Roskilde Festival – takes place every June/July, pulling in thousands to the small town, so be sure to book ahead at this time.

Caroline Osborne
About the Expert

Caroline Osborne is coauthor of the Rough Guides to Copenhagen and Denmark.

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Caroline Osborne for Triporati

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