UNESCO sites in Danmark

7 amazing destinations

Parforcejagtlandskabet i stora Dyrehaven
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October 17th, 2018

Denmark is famous for being the happiest nation in the world. The history behind is long and among one of the world’s most interesting stories. More and more people around the world is realizing this, which is why Denmark is increasingly being visited by international tourists, who want to experience the distinctive attractions we have to offer. Meanwhile, more Danes travel their home country to dive down into their own national culture. Denmark consists of the peninsula Jutland and 443 islands that total the small sum of 42,931 sqm. In comparison to large countries, we sure have gotten our money’s worth in cultural heritage. The small size of Denmark is full of cozy attractions, wonderful nature and exciting cultural experiences.

What is UNESCO?

UNESCO is the United Nations’ organization for education, science and culture. The purpose of the organization is to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritages. The heritages that are enlisted by UNESCO are valuable to the entire world and are considered to belong to everyone, no matter where these world heritages may physically reside. It is therefor a huge honor when monuments, attractions and areas are enlisted.

UNESCO describes the list in this way: “Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration”.

Vadehavet nationalpark © Lars GejlSkallingen at the Wadden Sea | © Lars Gejl

World heritage in Denmark

In Denmark, we count a total of seven attractions on UNESCO’s world heritage list. If you want to experience impressive nature, learn more about the Danish history, or just be sure that your destination is a magnificent cultural experience, then this list is a great start. You will surely love your trip to these places as they have been sanctioned as worthy of preservation and as unique cultural monuments by UNESCO. Read more about the following attractions in Denmark that have been enlisted on the world heritage site below.


In 1773, Christiansfeld was established by German Moravian Brethren from Herrnhut on the orders of King Christian VII. The entire city was built in just 20 years, and it was the first city in Denmark that was completely planned out before it was systematically built. The strict planning has ensured that the city’s architecture is consistent throughout all the buildings. They consist of one or two floors, they are built with yellow bricks and the roof bricks are all red.

Christiansfeld Christiansfeld

Christiansfeld is an evangelical-lutheran congregation in which the citizens were to live completely physically in line with Christian religion. This is why the men lived in one side of the city and the women in the other. With a city plan based on the Christian faith, it is quite naturally a church that separates the two ends of the city. The idea behind Christiansfeld was not just to create a Christian city, but to build a true community in which the citizens were to do everything together, both spiritually and practically. This means that equality and democracy was far ahead of the conditions in Denmark back then, e.g. women had a seat in the managing council.

Why is Christiansfeld a world cultural heritage?

Christiansfeld was picked as a World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO because of two criteria:

  • Christiansfeld is a unique witness to a cultural tradition. The fact that several buildings continue to be used for their original purpose creates a certain authenticity to the destination. Furthermore, Christiansfeld is the best kept of its kind in Europe, and you are thus offered a unique historical experience when visiting this cultural heritage.
  • The architectural expressions are excellent examples of a planned idealistic Protestant colony. It is a memorable piece of heritage for the world because it offers a unique insight into a group of peoples’ interpretation of the future’s modern society. The city is carefully renovated so that a trip through Christiansfeld continues to be like traveling back in time to an exciting piece of the world history.

Hotel near Christiansfeld

Zleep Hotel Kolding is located just 20 km from Christiansfeld. Are you traveling with the purpose of experiencing historical cultural sights? Then Kolding is your destination. Kolding has a lot to offer, so you can easily combine a trip to Christiansfeld with many more experiences.

Jelling Mounds

In 965, Denmark’s conversion from Asa faith to Christianity began. It was the Viking king, Harald Bluetooth (Blåtand), who parted with the Nordic gods and began one of the largest turnarounds in Danish history. This event was of huge significance, and our most valuable heritage from this time is located in Jelling. Harald Bluetooth inscribed the following on a rune stone: “Harold the King bade do these sepulchral monuments after Gorm his father and after Thyra his mother, the Harold who won the whole of Denmark and all of Norway, and made the Danes Christian.” The shape of Christ is engraved in the stone and is the oldest representation of Christ in Scandinavia. Today, the Jelling stone is thus considered Denmark’s birth certificate, and the shape of Christ as it is represented on the stone is found in all Danish passports.

Jelling MonumentenJelling Mounds | © Visit Vejle

It is not just the Jelling stone, which is on UNESCO’s world heritage list. Also the church and the burial mounds are considered heritage sites that make up a valuable memory from the past. What is spectacular about the site is the presence of both the burial mounds and the church side by side. The burial mounds is a classic example of Scandinavia’s previous pagan culture, whilst the church and the rune stone illustrate the Christianization of Denmark. The two burial mounds are 10 meters high and 70 meters wide and offer a great view over the monument area. At least three more churches have stood where the current church now stands in whitewashed stone. The Jelling Monuments are among Europe’s most beautiful and most memorable heritages from the Viking age, and it is thus obvious that it is part of UNESCO’s world cultural heritage list.

Hotel near Jelling

The closest hotel we have is Zleep Hotel Billund, which is located just 24 km from the Jelling Monuments. Billund is a great place to choose to stay as it is also home to some of Denmark’s biggest attractions.

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle has always had large symbolic value to Denmark. Its strategic location ensured control over Oresund and was a military defense that symbolized power and wealth. Today, it is among Denmark’s biggest cultural and historical landmarks. UNESCO enlisted Kronborg Castle as a world heritage because it is a well-preserved memory of the Renaissance. Its history actually goes all the way back to 1420, but the renaissance castle as we know it today was built between 1574 and 1585 and has since been renovated. You will quickly understand why the castle has been admired for its architectural beauty and feared for its strength as a fortress.

Kronborg Slott © Thomas RahbekKronborg Castle | © Thomas Rahbek

Kronborg Castle is perhaps most famously known as home to the popular Shakespeare play, Hamlet. Whether Shakespeare ever visited Kronborg Castle is unknown, but the Castle’s reputation was definitely known by the writer. Every summer, both theater and festivals are hosted in the name of Shakespeare to vitalize the history about Hamlet at the original location of the tale. In Denmark, there is also a legend about Holger Danske, who was a warrior and knight in Charles the Great’s (Charlemagne) army. Legend says that Holger Danske is sleeping in Kronborg’s basement but will wake and save the country if Denmark ever should be exposed to danger. A statue of Holger Danske was erected in the basement in 1907.

Hotel in Copenhagen

If you stay at a hotel in central Copenhagen you will only be a 40 minutes train ride away from Elsinore (Helsingør) and Kronborg. A single train will take you all the way from the Copenhagen Central Station, making it easy to visit North Zealand when staying in Copenhagen.

Par force hunting landscape in North Zealand

North Zealand has the honor of being home to two attractions that have made it to UNESCO’s world cultural heritage list. Kronborg Castle is one, the par force hunting landscape is the other. The landscape consists of Gribskov, Store Dyrehave, Jægersborg Hegn, and Dyrehaven. These four green areas make up a total of 4,543 hectare. Among other things, you will find Fredensborg Castle and the Hermitage Castle within the landscapes. The hunting grounds were transformed to a par force hunting system in the 1680s by King Christian V.

Parforcejagtlandskabet i stora Dyrehaven med Ermitageslottet i bakgrundenThe Eremitage Castle in the par force hunting landscapes | © Ib Welling

The par force hunting landscape is a cultural sight because of the type of hunting conducted. It was very popular during the high point of the royal monarchy in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was a kind of staging where the king was able to prove his power, even over nature itself. Par force hunting is a hunting method in which animals are hunted on horseback and with dogs. The landscape was designed with straight roads in star patterns and squares, making sure there is easy access to all parts of the forest. Par force hunting was abolished in 1777 in Denmark. The par force hunting landscape in North Zealand is now a world cultural heritage according to UNESCO. They reason that it is an extraordinary example of how Baroque values influenced the European landscape designs of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Hotel near North Zealand

Zleep Hotel Ballerup is located just half an hour drive from the par force hunting landscape in North Zealand. At the hotel, there is free parking, making it easy to get to and from the hotel, whether you are visiting the cultural heritage or going into Copenhagen.

Roskilde Cathedral

In the middle of Zealand is Denmark’s first capital, Roskilde. The city got the title as the capital of the country due to its harbor, which ensured easy access to Kattegat. For more than 1,000 years, churches have existed on the location where Roskilde Cathedral stands today. The first of those churches, the Trinity Church, was built by Harald Bluetooth (Blåtand), but it was not until a couple hundred years later, in the 1170s, that the construction of the church that stands today began. While the church is Scandinavia’s first gothic cathedral, verandas and side chapels have been added up until the 19th century. The cathedral showcases the religious architectural development in Europe, which is one of the reasons it is considered a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO. The huge building is a significant landmark and an iconic world heritage that watches over Roskilde bay from its high location.

Roskilde Domkyrka © Jan FriisRoskilde Cathedral | © Jan Friis

Since the 15th century, Roskilde Cathedral has been Denmark’s royal burial site. The cathedral’s vaults and dark crypts are home to a total of 39 Danish kings and queens, making it the largest royal burial site in the world. Both Harald Bluetooth and Sweyn Forkbeard (Svend Tveskæg) were buried on the grounds when it was the Trinity Church that stood on the location in the 10th and 11th centuries. Roskilde Cathedral is located in central Roskilde, so if you are visiting Roskilde for cultural and historical experiences, you are on the right path. Especially the Viking ship museum attracts many visitors as it is one of the most exciting sights in the city.

Hotel in Roskilde

In the city center of Roskilde and a short five-minute walk from Roskilde Cathedral is Zleep Hotel Prindsen Roskilde. If you want cultural experiences, Denmark’s first capital is your ideal destination.

Stevns Klint

41 meters above the ocean on a 17 km long stretch, with the wind rushing through your hair, and the fresh scent of ocean lies Stevns Klint. A cliff at which you will feel incredibly alive even though you are at a place where the Earth’s largest mass extermination took place 65 million years ago. This can be seen in the 5-20 cm thick layer of fish clay, which depicts two different geological eras, the Cretaceous and the Paleogene Periods. The fish clay marks the time at which a meteor hit Chicxulub in Mexico, which is assumed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Drone footage of Stevns Klint

The extraordinary nature at Stevns Klint bears huge importance to science as it is the best source in the world to research specific phenomena. However, the beautiful surroundings do not just explain why the dinosaurs are extinct. The place also contains fossils and traces from the Cold War. In Stevns, four museums are definitely worth a visit if you are going to see the UNESCO-enlisted world heritage: Stevns Museum, the Cold War Museum, Geomuseum Faxe and Haslev Museum. We particularly recommend the Cold War Museum where you can experience an underground fort, which was located at the battlefront in case war had started between the East and the West. Read more about Stevns Klint and all the exciting attractions in the Limestone Landscape on kalklandet.dk/english.

Stay in Greater Copenhagen

Zleep Hotel Ishøj is located an hour’s drive from Stevns Klint. In Ishøj, you are also close to Arken and central Copenhagen, so there are plenty of opportunities to experience the wonders of Denmark.

Wadden Sea

The world’s largest continuous and unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats stretches from Den Helder on the Western side of the Netherlands all the way up north of Esbjerg in Denmark. The Wadden Sea is inscripted on UNESCO’s world heritage list, and the Danish part of the sea is Denmark’s largest national park. It is one of the world’s absolutely last, big tidal water ecosystems where the course of nature continues undisturbed. The Wadden Sea pulls back and pushes forward twice a day. It is quite a spectacular phenomenon of nature as many kilometers of the bare mud flat seabed is flooded by roaring waves.

Starling magic by the Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is a unique ecosystem in which plant and animal life thrive. The seabed is full of animals and was previously a free buffet of fish and shellfish for many hundreds of years for both humans and birds. Today, the Wadden Sea is perhaps best known for its enormous amount of birds that pass the coast. There is room for up to 6.1 million birds at once, and it is especially spectacular to watch when winter is approaching and the birds are either migrating south or filling their fat deposits to weather the cold. 10-12 million birds pass the Wadden Sea annually. It is thus an essential lay-by for birds flying south. According to UNESCO, the Wadden Sea is a world heritage because it represents an important part of Earth’s geographic development, and because it represents the continuous biological development of ecosystems. At the Wadden Sea Center in Ribe, you can experience the Wadden Sea through a bird’s eyes, and it is the ideal place to begin when visiting the national park.

Inspired to experience Denmark?

Explore the most spectacular world cultural heritages in Denmark with Zleep Hotels. We ensure a nice place to stay at a great rate so that you can get more out of your cultural experiences. You can find our hotels throughout Denmark, so when you have picked a destination, we are ready to welcome you to amazing experiences near the hotels.

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