Roskilde Cathedral

Roskilde Cathedral

Roskilde Cathedral is made of red brick in the Gothic style, and dates from about 1280.

Since then each century has added its own extensions in various styles. The interior of the cathedral has been changed in the course of time too. Before 1536 the cathedral was Catholic. After the Reformation the side altars were removed and new furniture was installed for the new Protestant service.

Roskilde Cathedral was admitted to the World Heritage List in 1995. As reasons for inclusion its role in the use of brick for religious buildings, the succesive architectural styles and the mausoleum of the Danish Royal Family were named.

Map of Roskilde Cathedral

Load map

Visit October 2005

Of the about 100 Christian sites (churches, cathedrals, monasteries) on the List, only a few are related to Protestantism. The Luther memorials in Germany are the most prominent example of these. Roskilde Cathedral is another one: not so obvious maybe (it started out as a Catholic church), but the Reformation had a profound influence here. The interior was profoundly changed after the transition to Protestantism. In a way, its brick walls (already devised in the 1170's) add to the purity and austerity of the Reformation too.

October 2005

Usually I don't get too excited about visiting another Gothic cathedral, but I must admit that this one has something 'extra' that a spot in the Top 1000 of world monuments seems to be deserved.

This 'extra' can be contributed to it being Protestant (as explained above), but also to all add-ons that were attached over the ages.

October 2005

Each chapel has its own look, both inside and outside, and is an example of the fashionable architectural style during the period of its construction. One of the most beautoful of these, the Chapel of the Magi (1463), unfortunately was closed for restoration when I visited. However you can peek inside and admire its delicate mural paintings.

October 2005

Community Reviews

Write a review

Kyle Magnuson

California - United States of America - 10-Jul-17 -

Roskilde Cathedral by Kyle Magnuson

Roskilde, as a former capital is well-worth the excursion from Copenhagen. The dizzying cathedral is a towering structure that should be admired by a full 360 degree exploration of the surrounding grounds. I photographed every corner of the interior, and viewed the cathedral from several different vantage points. During my visit the Summer weather was excellent, so it made the visit that much more pleasant.

The amount of royal tombs/caskets located inside the cathedral itself is surprising. Certain areas within the cathedral are quite different because of the internment of a particular monarch. More prominent personas and the century they died all create a varied interior that is quite different from the monotonous interior of many other cathedrals.

Roskilde Cathedral (6)

I spent half-a-day here visiting the cathedral and the Viking Ship museum, which is also worth exploring via the forested road directly across from Roskilde Cathedral. I should mention, the Copenhagen card is quite useful for a multi-day visit to Denmark. Trains outside Copenhagen are included, as well as admission to Roskilde Cathedral, and several other important sites in North Zealand.

Read more from Kyle Magnuson here.


Malta - 11-Aug-16 -

Roskilde Cathedral by Clyde

I visited this WHS in July 2016. I've visited Copenhagen four times without visiting this very close WHS but I finally made it. I was lucky that another 3 WHS were added in the area so time was ripe for a visit. I spent a whole day in Roskilde. Before checking-in in my hotel at night time, I stopped by a parking lot close to the Vikings Museum to be able to see the panoramic view of the lateral side of the cathedral and the remains of the two viking ships lit at night. Very early the next morning I woke up at around 06:30 and made the most of the perfect blue skies and morning light for photography. The facade is best viewed in the afternoon but the steeples and rear part of the cathedral with all the statues and buildings were magnificent when the first sun rays gave the brick cathedral an even more reddish look. The UNESCO plaque is just next to the cathedral entrance. Having visited Wismar and Lubeck in Germany last year, I could appreciate the similarities between these 3 WHS. Unfortunately, like other brick churches in Germany, Roskilde suffered a huge fire in 1968 and original remains such as tiles and decorations from the Margretspiret together with vivid photos can be seen when visiting the top floor of the cathedral interior. Other brick buildings such as the town hall are worth viewing. Later on, after breakfast and lunch, I visited the cathedral interior and was given a very informative booklet/guide which was mine to keep. The cathedral interior is worth visiting. It has much more to offer than the similar brick churches in Germany. Every hour the St George and the Dragon clock comes to life as the dragon roars while being slayed by a sword. The highlight of my visit were the tombs behind the gilded altarpiece, especially the dismembered knight's tomb, and the Chapel of the Magi with the central pillar containing markings indicating the heights of royal visitors. Although there are several cathedrals inscribed as WHS this one is quite unique and I felt it deserves its inscription even though it may not be a top WHS to visit.

Tom Livesey

United Kingdom - 12-Jun-16 -

We flew to Copenhagen on the first day of January 2016 to visit Roskilde and Kronborg. The temperature was a frosty -2°C, with a wind chill factor taking it down to -12°C. This was seriously cold as far as we were concerned! It was in Roskilde that I discovered the delights of a Scandinavian cinnamon roll...delicious.

Roskilde is an imposing cathedral, but thankfully its brickwork makes it very well insulated. Its draw comes largely from the royal mausoleum. I particularly liked the Baroque chapel of Christian IV and the tomb of Christian IX & Louise. The latter is decorated with statues known as ‘the Mermaid’s sisters’ because they resemble (and are by the same sculptor as) the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen Harbour.

Read more from Tom Livesey here.

Klaus Freisinger

Austria - 03-Aug-12 -

Roskilde is quite a pleasant town to the west of Copenhagen, but doesn't have the same importance today as it used to have when it was the capital of Denmark and one of its religious centres. The cathedral is not only very large, but is also the necropolis of the Danish royal family, resulting in a large number of graves and tombstones from many centuries. For a Protestant church, it is rather lavishly decorated, and is unique for its brick architecture. Don't miss the other major highlight of Roskilde, though - the great Viking Ship Museum, only 10-minute walk away. It shows several original ships from the Viking era, and you can also set sail in a rebuilt Viking ship, which is really a unique experience.

Ian Cade

UK - 26-Jan-12 -

Roskilde Cathedral by Ian Cade

Having seen a lot of cathedrals in the process of visiting World Heritage Sites, it takes something a little different to linger in my memory. Roskilde certainly does that. As Els points out it is a Protestant cathedral, and this means that it has a slightly austere brick and whitewash interior. This was actually very impressive and helped to focus attention on the other artistic details, and I guess for parishioners there it helps them focus on their worship. I really enjoyed studying the intense detail of the carved altar piece and choir stalls, which were elegantly lit and open to allow close inspection.

The main thing that impressed me though was the side chapels with the tombs of Danish royalty. This was a big surprise to me as this type of monument normally leaves me indifferent. They were very elegant, and the use of space within the chapels was very restrained. At no stage was I overwhelmed by what I was seeing, this allowed my focus to remain on the works of art. This may not be the most impressive looking cathedral interior on the list, but actually that is its main advantage.

I almost missed seeing the interior, but I am very glad that I made time for the short hop out from Copenhagen to get inside. The exterior of the cathedral is nice but not particularly remarkable, but the real highlight is the restrained yet outstanding interior.

Roskilde is a little different to the other European Cathedrals on the list and well worth a trip to see.

[Site 7: Experience 7]

christine BALLE

NEW ZEALAND - 09-Sep-10 -

i am also from new zealand and have visited Roskilda Cathedral and have sat beneath the portrait of my great great cousin Dr Nikolaj Edingar BALLE, the whole experiance for me was very humbling. My name is christine daphne kiritiana BALLE, i have visited Danmark several times and had intended to go back again this christmas to hear the music composed by my great grandfather Carl Christian Nicolaj BALLE ( my father was Emanuel BALLE oldest son of Charles and Angilena BALLE) but at the moment i am in Australia but will be going back in the spring of next year 2011. On previous visits to Danmark i have been to the church cemetary at Nebsager where my great grand father is buried, i would like on future visits to make contact with family relatives, if any one can be of help to me my email address is christinewilliamsnz@gmail, i also have some history on my family and photos and would love to share these

Gerry Devine

Ireland - 26-Jul-05 -

My name is Gerry Devine from a small fishing village called Rush 17 miles north of Dublin City.I named my house "Roskilda" after I heard a local story.The story goes that when the vikings left Ireland for the last time in the 11th century,the last boat sailed out from Rush and the boat was called Roskilda.In the Irish language Rush is called "Ros" which may have got its name from this boat or visa versa as Rush at the time was an important port fot the Vikings.I am not sure how true the story is but is part of the folklore in my home village


Latvia -

If frankly - I was not especially impressed by this monument. I appreciate the tremendous historical importance of this church for Denmark - but visually, especially from outside - not a world-class monument.

delor lauchang

us of a -

it is a travel back in time. the magnificence of its architecture, and everything around and inside the place is a work of art and inspiration.

the column that inscribes the height of each prince and princess as they visit each time, immortalizes the history of the monarchy.

the tomb also will give you in detail the love and care, that they have for each other. it is truly a place to see.

Site Info

Full Name
Roskilde Cathedral
Unesco ID
2 4
Religious structure - Christian

Site History

1995 Inscribed

1994 Deferred

Bureau - until a comparative study on religious brick Gothic architecture is completed.


The site has 1 locations

Roskilde Cathedral: Roskilde Cathedral Island of Sjaelland, Denmark


Community Members have visited.

A. Mehmet Haksever A.thum AC AYB Adam Hancock Adrian Lakomy Airpunk Alessandro Votta Alexander Barabanov Alexander Lehmann Alexfangel Alfons and Riki Verstraeten Ali Zingstra Allanmc Alliosoncita La unica Peruchita Anders Burholm Andreas Thum AndreasThum Andres Gomez Casanova Andrew Wembridge Anna Wludarska Argo Ask Gudmundsen Aslak Eide B Aspasia Astraftis Atila Ege Aurelien Drilant-Abenascad Aurora Petan Bauchat Bborders Ben Buckley Berteig Bill Bin Birgitte Sørensen Bob pateman Bodil Ankerly Boroka Szamosi Bosswench Bram de Bruin Brendan Carroll Brigitte Huber Butterflybird Carl-Gustaf Samuelsson Carstenhansen Caspar Dechmann Cezar Grozavu Chenqtao Christer Sundberg Christian Wagner Christoph Claire Bradshaw ClaireSpeedie Clem C Clyde Colossus Comensal Craig Harder Criterion Ctravel DL Dachangjin3 Dagmara Dan Pettigrew Daniel C-Hazard Danniella David Berlanda David Marton Davied Deambulante Ded Vseved Dennis Nicklaus Dgjohansson Dhhtravel Dibro Diggy Dimitar Krastev Dimitrios Polychronopoulos Dirk-pieter Donald M Parrish Jr Duesi73 Dwight Zehuan Xiao Eddypc07 Elaine McArdle Elida Ellen Nielsen Els Slots Enrique Clemente Eric PK Erik Jelinek Eva Kisgyorgy FS Fan Yibo Farinelli Feldhase Felicite Fairer-Wessels Femke Roos Ferrocastor Feudikbenson Filip Dostal Filip Murlak Finn-Gunnar Frostad Fool79 Frank Frankwsolak Frederik Dawson George Evangelou George Gdanski Gernot Gijs Glendaviste Grendel Gongan Gretell Scott Gwythyr Hadrianus Haining Guan Hammeel HannahJoergensen Harald T. Heidisaacson Hft Hubert Hurrvinek I&W Rohde Iain Jackson Ian Cade Ilya Burlak Ingemar Eriksson Ivan Rucek J Mitchell Jacob Choi Jakob Frenzel Jan-Willem Jana Frenzel JanetB Jani Hyppanen Jarek Pokrzywnicki Jason and Corrinna Jens JoStof JobStopar Joebobs Joel Baldwin JohanneB John Smaranda John booth Jonas Hagung Jonas Kremer Jonas Martinsson Jordi Martinez Jos Schmitz Jose Antonio Collar Joyce van Soest Judith Tanner JudyWalsh Juha Sjoeblom Julianna Lees Jun Juropa Karl Grossner Kasia M. Kasper Kbecq Kbtwhs Kelly Henry Kevin Verboven Kevin247 Klaus Freisinger Kyle Magnuson Lara Adler Lars Gunnar Gardo Lars Jensen Lennart Johansson Lidiane Lisa Ross Lisu Marian Loic Pedras Lois Dekker Lorenzo Mejino Lubos Lucio Gorla Luigi Tura Luis Filipe Gaspar Luisfreire Lut & Theo MH MMM MaYumin Maarten Hoek Mal Turner MalBee Malcolm Turner Maria Marie Morlon Markus Martin Richardson Martina Ruckova Marton Kemeny Marty Matejicek Mdnichol MiIm Mibive Michael Andersson Michael Novins Michael Rohde Michael Wasserman Michal Marciniak Michiel Dekker Miguel Gallego Mikael Bjork Mikal Ahmet Mike Harper Mikko Milan Jirasek Mitsidis72 MoPython Monika and Rini Monxton Naim Y Nan Nevin Salman Nicole P Nihal Ege Nomad99 Olli-Pekka Turunen Orphanos PabloNorte Paczeterson Pascal Cauliez Patphilly Patrik Patty Verhoeven Paul Schofield Peter Alleblas Peter Lööv Petteri Philipp Philipp Peterer Pierre T Pigi9389 Polyommatus_icarus Rachel Perkins Ralf Regele Randi Thomsen Reza Rickard Alfredsson Robin Frank Rodinia Roger Enarsson Roger Ourset Roland Rom Roman Koeln Roman Raab Ronaldo Michels Rosen Rswood Rwestervelt3 S.camel SHIHE HUANG Sabrina Liebehentschel Sachin Salla Samy Saru Secilie Kui Sergio Arjona Shandos Cleaver SirLoydd Slava Sncjob Solivagant Stanimir Stanislaw Warwas SteO153 Stefan A. Michelfeit Stefan Loov Stefan and Mia Steve Newcomer Steve Preddy Sue hayton Super-Sophie Svein Elias Szucs Tamas Tamara Ratz Tarquinio_Superbo Tatiana Nikulnikova Theyeattheworld Thibault Magnien Thijs van den Berg Thomas Buechler Thomas Kunz Thomas van der Walt Thorben Tkinou Tom Flaten Tom Livesey Tony H. Topaas Torkjell Djupedal Tsunami Vicente B. Avanzado Jr. Voyager WILLIAM RICH Wait About WalGra Walter Walter H. Watkinstravel Werner Huber Wojciech Fedoruk Wolfgang Hlousa WolfgangHl Xangadib Xiquinho Silva YaroMir Yuri Samozvanov Zen Zeng Zlatko Zlatko Rihter Zoë Sheng