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This article is about the town in Denmark. For the music festival, see Roskilde Festival.
Coordinates: 55°39′N 12°05′E / 55.650°N 12.083°E / 55.650; 12.083
Udsigt over roskilde.jpg
Country Denmark
Region Zealand (Sjælland)
Municipality Roskilde
Coordinates 55°39′N 12°05′E / 55.650°N 12.083°E / 55.650; 12.083
Population 48,721 (2014)
Timezone CET (UTC+1)
 - summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal codes 4000

Roskilde (Danish pronunciation: [ˈʁʌskilə]) is the main city in Roskilde Municipality. It lies on the island of Zealand, Denmark.

The city is ancient, dating from the Viking Age and is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.[1]

Roskilde train station is a major stop between Copenhagen and the regions of Denmark located to its west. With a population of 48,721 (1 January 2014),[2] the city is an economic centre for the region. Roskilde is the 10th largest city in Denmark.

Roskilde has a pedestrian street running down the centre of the city, with many shops, restaurants, and cafes. Several tourist attractions draw visitors from around Denmark and the world. The local university has an education program that invites international students to attend for a year.


According to Adam of Bremen and Saxo Grammaticus, in the 980s, Harald Bluetooth built a church and a royal estate in Roskilde. Saxo Grammaticus associates the name Roskilde with the legendary King Roar who possibly lived there in the 6th century. Harald was buried at the church which is on the same site as today's Roskilde Cathedral.

In 1020, Roskilde became a bishopric, making it the church's most important town in Denmark. Absalon, the Danish bishop, had a brick church built there in 1170 which later became the cathedral. In the following years, under Absalon's influence, many other churches were built in the town.

The former city hall of Roskilde, completed in 1884

Roskilde was given the status of a market town in 1268. It was probably the largest and most important town in Denmark at the time. With the support of the Roman Catholic Church, it continued to thrive until 1443. But as a result of the Reformation and the closure of the Roman Catholic Church in Denmark it lost its earlier status. Roskilde Cathedral did, however, continue to be the place where the kings and queens of Denmark were buried.

The town suffered from plague, wars with the Swedes and a number of devastating fires in the 17th century but began to recover in the 18th century with the opening of the railway from Copenhagen in 1847. More recently, with the establishment of the Viking Ship Museum in 1969, Roskilde has been recognised as a cultural and educational centre in Denmark with the first Roskilde Festival in 1971 and the university which opened 1972.

Tourist attractions[edit]

West facade of the Roskilde Cathedral in Roskilde, Denmark. (2004)

Roskilde Cathedral[edit]

Main article: Roskilde Cathedral

The city's early importance is evident from the fact that the Roskilde Cathedral was the only cathedral in Zealand until the 20th century. Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, it was the first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick and its construction encouraged the spread of this style throughout northern Europe. The cathedral is the burial site for Danish monarchs and is a major tourist attraction with more than 125,000 visitors annually. Since 1995, the cathedral has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A working church, it also hosts concerts throughout the year.

Connected to the church is Roskilde Palace, built during 1733-36. Built on the former location of another palace (that of a former bishop of Roskilde), today it is a museum and the residence of the current bishop of Roskilde.[3] The Cathedral is one of the biggest in Denmark and stands on the top of a hill, with a great view over the fjords. Next to the Cathedral is Roskilde Gymnasium one of Roskildes three Gymnasiums. The Gymnasium is the old Church school, with buildings from 1400 to a new building from 2012.

Viking ships[edit]

Navigable reconstruction of an original Viking ship

Another attraction in the city is the Viking Ship Museum (Vikingeskibsmuseet) located alongside Roskilde Fjord. The centrepieces of its collection are the well-preserved remains of five Viking ships, excavated from nearby Roskilde Fjord in the late 1960s. The ships were scuttled there in the 11th century to block a navigation channel, thus protecting the city, then the Danish capital, from seaborne assault. The museum also undertakes research in experimental archaeology centered on Viking shipbuilding and seaworthiness. These five ships represents several distinct classes of Viking Ships, such as the Longship, and Warship, and smaller fishing and ferry boats. The ships on display range from 10 feet (3 m) to 50 feet (15 m).[4]

Roskilde Festival[edit]

Roskilde festival (2003)
Main article: Roskilde Festival

Since 1971, the Roskilde Festival, a rock music festival, has been held annually on the fairgrounds near Roskilde. It has grown to become one of the biggest music festivals in Europe, with a diverse selection of music, including rock, metal, hip-hop, electronica, dance, and world music. All profits from this festival are donated to charities. The fairgrounds are also the site of regionally popular agricultural and animal exhibitions, and large flea markets.[5]

Other Attractions[edit]


Roskilde railway station from the Horse Market (Hestetorvet) 1849
The station as it looks today

Railway station[edit]

Roskilde has a four-platform railway station. Its seven tracks serve as a central hub connecting western and southern Zealand, the islands of Falster and Lolland, and Jutland to Copenhagen. Also within the municipality is the Trekroner station, serving Roskilde University and the developing residential areas to the east of Roskilde.

It is the oldest railway station in Denmark still operating and the first built of stone. The first train arrived from Copenhagen on 26 June 1847.


Opened on 1 April 1973,[6] Roskilde's small airport, serves light aircraft for training, taxi, and flight instruction.[7] There are existing plans to expand the airport for use by larger aircraft,[6] possibly including discount international flights.[8] The plans were approved, but lack of commitment from any carriers has postponed any development until further. The airport currently handles up to 100,000 operations (flights) per year, most of which are light aircraft operations associated with school flights.

The airport is also home to a small Royal Danish Air Force detachment, maintaining a helicopter based Search-and-Rescue readiness covering Zealand and the Baltic Sea. Military passenger services occasionally utilizes the airport for VIP flights and rotating personnel on international deployments.


MGA Entertainment's Denmark division has its headquarters in Roskilde.[9]

Of public enterprises, the Accident Investigation Board Denmark has its headquarters in Roskilde.[10]

Several food industries have the headquarters and/or production facilities in Roskilde, including:


Roskilde University[edit]

Roskilde University (Danish: Roskilde Universitet, RUC) was founded in 1972. The university is in the eastern side of Roskilde, in the neighbourhood Trekroner (named after a signalman's cabin on the Roskilde-Copenhagen line). RUC hosts students from around the world. Roskilde University has on-campus dormitory style housing and apartments but many students commute from Copenhagen to attend RUC.

Other educational institutions[edit]

There are eleven public primary schools in the municipality split up between eleven school districts. Six gymnasiums offer Upper Secondary School Exit Examinations, Higher Preparatory Examinations, Higher Commercial Examination Programme and Higher Technical Examination Programme. There are many adult education, technical and trade schools in addition to the gymnasiums.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ MAETN (1999). "diktyo". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  2. ^ "BEF44: Population 1st January, by urban areas" database from Statistics Denmark
  3. ^ "Slots- og Ejendomsstyelsen - Roskilde Palace - History". Archived from the original on 2006-09-08. Retrieved 2006-02-19. 
  4. ^ J.S. Illsley (1999). "History and Archeology of the ship - lecture notes". Retrieved 2006-02-19. 
  5. ^ "Roskilde Festival". Archived from the original on 2006-02-07. Retrieved 2006-02-19. 
  6. ^ a b "Roskilde Airport". 
  7. ^ "Roskilde Airport". Copenhagen Airports. 
  8. ^ "Copenhagen". 
  9. ^ "Contact." MGA Entertainment. Retrieved on December 26, 2009.
  10. ^ "Havarikommissionen." Accident Investigation Board Denmark. Retrieved on 16 December 2013.
  11. ^ "DanÆg, EggSite"
  12. ^ "Stryhn's company website"

External links[edit]