Denmark's royal necropolis: Roskilde Domkirke

in #travelfeed2 years ago (edited)

Altarpiece in Roskilde Domkirke

Well, I'm still going through pictures from our trip to Denmark. Allan (@hanedane) took me to see his family and his homeland back in August and it was my first trip to Europe! We saw so many things and took so many pictures, that it has taken me months and I still haven't posted all that we saw and did.

One amazing place we visited was the Roskilde Domkirke, the cathedral in which many members of the Danish royal family are buried. Unfortunately, when we arrived the church was about to close down to host a concert. We had exactly nine minutes to run through this jaw-dropping place, snapping photos and containing awe. Our plan was to return another day, but when we did, they were again closed to the public for a service. And so, below are pictures from our nine-minute marathon through Roskilde Cathedral.

The cathedral is located in Roskilde which is where the Viking Museum I posted on earlier is also located. Roskilde sits at the southern end of Roskilde Fjord smack dab in the center of Zealand, less than an hour west of Copenhagen. It was named the capital of Denmark in 960 by King Bluetooth who needed a more easterly seat of power after uniting Denmark and Norway.

The cathedral is one of the earliest in Scandinavia constructed of brick in the Gothic style. It was built sometime in the late 1100s around an existing travertine cathedral built on the royal estate of Harald Bluetooth. Church services were reinstated in the updated cathedral in 1225, though building continued. Work on the towers was completed in 1405. Its guilded altarpiece, pictured at the top of this post, was commissioned for a church in Danzig, Germany. However, the altarpiece was confiscated as payment for the sound dues from a ship sailing through Øresund, the waterway controlled by Kronborg Castle.

The photo at left shows a small window on the back of the church; you can see the sun shining through the three gothic windows on the front side of the church.

The window is encroached upon by a "newer" addition: the Arch of Absalon, named after Bishop Absalon of Roskilde (1128-1201). It was built in the 13th century with some of the original travertine stones from the earlier church on this site. Its walkway connects the cathedral to the Bishop's Mansion.



Cathedral apse with grave markers on the floor

Queen Margrethe I was the first monarch to be buried in Roskilde Domkirke in about 1413, a situation that caused quite a stir. She had been originally interred at Sorø Klosterkirke but her body was moved to Roskilde a year later. The monks of Sorø were furious because having a queen interred in your church was lucrative; fees were paid for each requiem mass, and those for a dead queen were requested regularly. Below is the 600-year-old sarcophagus of Queen Margrethe I:

Margrethe I.jpg

Some of the royal sarcophagi are housed in separate chapels off the main sanctuary. Other graves are right in the floors of the apse and its flanks. Touring the cathedral we walked its northern flank first, which contained these three grave markers:





christian iv chapel.jpg
Entrance to Christian IV Chapel


christian iv ceiling.jpg

King Christian IV

King Christian IV was the son of Frederick II and Sophie (the first royal couple to live in Kronborg Slot). He was also the uncle of England's King Charles I. His chapel is decorated with intricate latticework and beautiful frescoes on the ceiling (above).

Five sarcophagi stand in the Christian IV Chapel. In the photograph below, the sarcophagus in the foreground is that of Christian Prince-Elect (d. 1647) and behind that is the sarcophagus of his father, King Christian IV (d. 1648).

In the photo below that one are the two golden sarcophagi of Sophie Amalie (d. 1685) in the foreground and King Frederik III (d. 1670), Christian IV's other son.

christian prince elect.jpg
Christian, Prince-Elect and Christian IV

gold sarcs.jpg
Sophie Amalie and Frederik III


Below is the entry gate to the chapel of King Christian IX who died in 1906. His wife, Queen Louise, died in 1898. They had six children who each married into royal dynasty in various countries, including Greece, Wales, Russia, and Norway. As a result, most of Europe's royal families and current European monarchs are descended from Christian IX including Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, King Philippe of Belgium, King Harald V of Norway, King Felipe VI of Spain, and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg.

Christian IX

Dronning Louise

christian ix gateway.jpg

christian ix 2.jpg

christian ix.jpg


Below is an area just past the Christian IV Chapel, toward the back of the cathedral. More graves lie behind the two short and elaborately hinged doors in the whitewashed wall; I think the window at the far back is the same window shown above next to the Archway of Absalon. I peeked through the barred window in one of the small hinged doors to see more sarcophagi in a lower chamber (see second photograph, below).




Can you believe we saw all that in just nine minutes?!

The next time we visit Roskilde, we'll definitely spend more time exploring the fascinating history housed here in Domkirke. There are several more chapels to explore and I would love to get a photograph of the final resting place of Frederick II and Sophie.


Thank you for reading and joining us on our travels! We're Allan and Stephanie... making our way through middle age.

All photos are originals, taken by @hanedane or @geke. (Dividing bars courtesy of

Please leave us a comment to let us know you stopped by! We'd love to hear from you. 😃


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