Under its high vaulted ceilings and in its deep, dark crypts, Roskilde Cathedral holds innumerable secrets from than 1,000 years of Danish history. The cathedral’s stunning architecture and interior that must be seen to be believed make it an absolute must-see for tourists and led to its addition to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995. Enjoy free admission to the cathedral with Copenhagen City Pass.
To this very day, the two spires of the cathedral dominates the skyline of Roskilde, a small town some 30 kilometers west of the Danish capital Copenhagen. Constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries, the cathedral was the first one to be built entirely of brick. With its distinct architectural style that blends the Gothic and Romanesque elements prominent throughout Europe at the time, the cathedral gives an entirely unique impression of simultaneous grace and heft guaranteed to make a deep impression on anyone laying eyes on it.
The same certainly holds true for the cathedral’s interior. An enormous altarpiece shimmering gold, marble sarcophagi holding the mortal remains of Danish kings and queens throughout almost an entire millennium, lofty, vaulted ceilings adorned with religious imagery, enormous stained-glass windows depicting saints and Biblical scenes, exquisite portraits covering the walls, and infinitely more – the inside of the Roskilde Cathedral is an almost overwhelming display of religious opulence and splendor simply impossible to forget.
And as visitors are beginning to take it all in, there are a great number of secrets that are worth turning to in detail; some of them grandiose, some of them charmingly humble. As the cathedral served as the burial ground for Danish royalty for several centuries, sepulchral monuments can be found everyone, particularly in the various chapels. Displays of immaculate craftsmanship using only the finest materials, standing in front of them still leaves visitors awe-struck to this day. From here, visitors can make their way to such sights as the cathedral’s organ, the mechanical display of St. Jørgen slaying the dragon, or the green devil Tutivillus, keeping track of the parishioners’ sins, and infinitely more.
But not everything here is on the grandest scale: up in the choir’s gallery, one of the bricks clearly shows a dog’s paw. Presumably, after the bricks had been formed and were lying out to dry at the end of the 11th century, a dog sauntered over them, leaving an imprint that has endured for almost a millennium now. And this is merely a small taste of what to expect. Words simply cannot do Roskilde Cathedral justice and a visit here should absolutely be included in every list of what to do in Denmark.