Roskilde Cathedral is the most important church in Scandinavia and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The oldest parts of the church date from the 1100’s and it is the only building in the world with that many kings and queens buried in it.
Roskilde as the Capital of Denmark
Roskilde was the capital of Denmark until 1443 AD. The first king to make it the capital was the viking king Harald Bluetooth after whom a famous mobile technology is now named. He choose it because of the fjord and its strategic location in the middle of Denmark (at the time).
Harald Bluetooth made Denmark Christian replacing the old Nordic Gods. He also built the first church on the spot where the cathedral is located today. That church was made of wood and did not stand for very long.
The construction of the church
The Bishop of Roskilde, Absalon, who was also the founder of the city of Copenhagen, began the construction of the current church in the 1170’s. The center of the church (that still stands) was constructed within the next one hundred years.
The basic layout of the church has changed little since then, but numerous side chapels have been added over the years to make room to bury most kings of Denmark throughout history.
Royal burial sites inside the church
In total, 39 kings and queens are buried in the cathedral. You will see their tombs everywhere.
Margrethe I who is buried prominently in the middle of the church was the most powerful person in Scandinavian history. She unified all Nordic countries under her and thus ruled an empire stretching from Russia to North America.
Christian IV who reigned for 60 years and built both Frederiksborg and Rosenborg Palace is also buried in the church in a large chapel. His father Frederik II, who built Kronborg Castle, rests in another magnificent chapel.
Our current Queen will also be buried in the church when she passes away hopefully many years from now. You can see her chapel to the left when you look towards the altar.
How to get there
Roskilde is 35 minutes away from Copenhagen Central Station by train. From the train station in Roskilde, it is a ten minute walk to the cathedral.