The first time I ever heard the name “Roskilde” was while I was on exchange in Sweden, after I downloaded Spotify for the first time and started hearing ads for the Roskilde Festival.
The annual Roskilde Festival may be what it is most known for, with major artists like Rihanna and David Bowie headlining a week-long party in the town of just over 50,000 people, but Roskilde has other notable sights as well. For one, it’s home to the Roskilde Cathedral, a place I decided I needed to see after having it pop up on almost every list of “things to do in Denmark” that I came across.
Roskilde Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Usually I don’t go out of my way to visit churches, since there are so many famous cathedrals in Europe that at some point they all start to look the same if you don’t travel far enough. But Roskilde Cathedral has also been the burial place of Danish kings and queens for over 500 years, which was intriguing enough to convince me to take the train out to Roskilde the morning before I headed back to Germany.
A modern town has sprung up around the cathedral, which makes it seem so much less significant than it actually is. The walk from the train station takes you through an average Danish shopping street lined with the same Vero Moda and Matas shops you can see anywhere in the country, and even the cathedral is so closely surrounded that you can’t get a proper photo of its full height. It’s just…there.
But that is one of the quirks of different towns in Europe that I really enjoy: here is this centuries-old church in the middle of the city, and it’s underwhelming to anyone who isn’t a tourist. It just keeps being used like any regular old church.
There was an admission cost (albeit only 40 DKK) to get in and tour the cathedral, so I tried to really take my time and appreciate all the history I was soaking in and all the details that went into building such a massive structure.
You can even go up a winding staircase, through old stone rooms that probably had some significance back in the day, up to the second floor where there is a small museum.
It’s a bit sad that centuries ago, architects and artists put so much detail into these buildings (and rich people paid a lot for that too), and nowadays we so often just glance over these details and only view the structure or piece as a whole.
After leaving the cathedral I followed another sign for the Viking Ship Museum pointing down to the water. While you can see some of the boats outside, it is still a paid attraction, and at that point I didn’t feel like dropping an entry fee on yet another museum. At least it still provided me with a nice autumn stroll down to the waterfront and some views of the crystal-clear Roskilde Fjord.
Alas, after only half a day I could hear my unpacked suitcase calling me home. One last parting shot: