Roskilde (pop. 53,000), in central Zealand, served as Denmark’s capital when King Harald Bluetooth built the country’s first Christian church here in AD 980. These days, Roskilde is famous for the liRoskilde Music Festival, the largest outdoor concert in Northern Europe, where performers such as Coldplay, REM, U2, Bob Dylan, and Bob Marley have taken the stage, (www.roskilde-festival.dk. July 14, 2004.) The ornate sarcophagi of the red-brick EiRoskilde Domkirke, in Domkirkepl. house the remains of generations of Danish royalty. (35 16 24. Open Apr.-Sept. M-F 9am-4:45pm, Sa 9am-noon, Su l-2pm; Oct.-Mar. Su 12:30-3:45pm, Tu-Sa 10am-3:45pm. 15kr, students lOkr. English tours mid-June to mid-Aug. M-F 11am and 2pm, Sa 11am, Su 2pm.) The Viking Ship Museum, Vindeboder 12, near Strandengen along the harbor, houses remnants of five ships sunk circa AD 1060 and salvaged in the late 1960s. From the tourist office, take the pleasant walk downhill through the park or take bus #607 (dir.: Boserup; free with train ticket). Book a ride on an authentic Viking ship, but be prepared to take an oar conquest is no spectator sport. (30 02 00; www.vikingeskibsmuseet.dk. Museum open daily 9am-5pm. In summer 60kr, off-season 45kr. Boat trip 90kr, 50kr with museum ticket.)
In AD 800, Vikings put the small town of Roskilde on the map by sailing to continental Europe and annihilating the feudal order. Over a millennium larter, the tiny town is taking Europe by storm with its annual Roskilde Music Festival, again challenging any semblance of law and order.
Headliners Coldplay, Metallica, REM, U2, Bob Dylan, and Bjork have all graced the enormous Orange Stage, but 70,000 international fans don’t trek to Roskilde for only the big-name acts. Northern Europe’s largest outdoor music festival is not just a concert; it’s a week-long, Woodstock-esque musical experience. Although the festival technically begins on Thursday, the gates open four days earlier, offering revelers less hygiene and more hijinks. With five stages showcasing local and international bands, rhythm and communal atmosphere flow nonstop all week.
Attendees wear wrist bands in lieu of tickets, and the most devoted fans sport their bracelets year-round like badges of honor-those boasting 5 years’ worth are offered free admission.
At the end of the seven days, unbathed, dehydrated, and sated music-lovers have new friends and 358 days to recover.
Roskilde reconvenes July 1-4, 2004. For ticket info, see www. roskilde-festival. dk.
Trains depart for Copenhagen (25-30min. every 15min. 52kr). The tourist office, Gullandsstr. 15, sells festival tickets and books rooms for a 25kr fee and a 10-15% deposit. From the train station, turn left on Jembaneg. right on Allehelgansg. and left again on Bredg.; the office is at the comer of Bredg. and Gullandsstr. ( 3165 65. Open mid-June to Aug. M-F 9am-6pm, Sa 10am-2pm; Apr. to mid-June M-F 9am-5pm, Sa 10am-lpm; Sept.-Mar. M-Th 9am-5pm, F 9am-4pm, Sa lOam-lpm.) The Youth Hostel (HI) , Vindeboder 7, is on the harbor next to the Viking Museum shipyard. Book far in advance during the festival. (35 21 84; www.danhostel.dkroskilde. Kitchen available. Breakfast 45kr. Sheets 40kr. Reception daily 8am-noon and 4-10pm. Dorms lOOkr. Nonmembers add 30kr.) Roskilde Camping O, Baunehojvej 7, is on the beach; take bus #603 (15kr) toward Veddelev to Ved-delev Byg. (75 79 96. Reception daily 8am-9pm. Open Apr. to mid-Sept. 64kr per person.)