We ventured out to Roskilde during this trip to see the Viking Museum and the Cathedral (which was the first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick in Scandinavia and a UNESCO World Heritage site). The town itself, is just charming. It was a Viking stronghold and became the capitol and center of Danish life during the Middle Ages.
We strolled from the train station down through town. There were lots of stops for window shopping and I just had to go in to one store in particular. It was a gorgeous place with a tea and cake shop on one side and beautiful gifts and antiques on the other. I was very good and just looked, but I could have bought out half the shop!
We walked down to the Viking Museum first. As we neared a field just past the church, we could hear the sound of splashing water. We both looked around and discovered a spring. Not just any spring, but the Skt. Hans Kilde ( St. John’s Spring). This was one of three sacred springs within Roskilde. It was a popular pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages, because many of the sick, thought they would be healed by drinking the water.
As we approached the museum, the smell of the sea filled our nostrils. The front of the museum acts as a storage shipyard. Boats were covered for the winter and lined up along the path with descriptions written next to them. I fell in love with one boat from 1944, Brudpiga. It was a church boat that carried people from scattered villages and farms along the Siljan lake in Sweden to church on Sundays. It could hold up to 60 people. It had 20 oars and a crew of 22 men. My imagination was running wild after reading that sign. I am sure I was romanticising it within my head, but I had cozy visions of traveling in that boat by candlelight along the shores, gathering people and meeting friends, who you might not see again until the following week.
The architecture of the building housing the five ships was thoughtfully devised. You felt as if the boats and the sea blended into one. The outside and the inside working together in harmony. The Viking Museum was truly fascinating! It’s incredible that this discovery was even made and then the time it took to excavate and preserve it, is even more astounding. I can’t wait to go back in the Summer to watch them working on boats in the shipyard and if we’re really lucky to ride on one of the ships they take out into the fjord.
We stopped for a snack in the cafe. I had hot chocolate and we split a piece of apple cake. The cafe’s menu is inspired by the Vikings. They use the same ingredients that were available during the Viking Age as well as those that were brought home from the Viking’s voyages. They strive to bring to life the five Skuldelev ships through food. I liked that. Food is important on so many different levels and to intertwine the past and the present was a lovely way of bringing the Vikings to life.
Next stop was the Cathedral. We only had a short time in the Cathedral and we definitely needed longer. The sun was setting and the shadows that were created were both breathtaking and also eerie. The history within the church, it’s connection to the monarchy and to the artists who worked there piqued my interest.
In the Christian IX chapel the three female figures that flank the double tomb of Christian IX and Queen Louise were designed by Edvard Eriksen. He was the creator of the famous Little Mermaid statue that sits in the harbour in Copenhagen. His wife was the model for these statues and you can particularly see that in the posing of the Little Mermaid and the central female figure at the tombs. We stayed until the bells chimed to signal the doors were closing for the night.
We walked back through town in the dark. The twinkle of Christmas lights glowing all around us. I couldn’t resist peeking through the gates of the convent to see their lights, a welcoming beacon on a frosty night. This city is on our list to keep exploring, there was just too much to see in a day! But, I’m not going to complain about that, it’s a good excuse to go back!