Do you want to get lost with me in Copenhagen? Because I got REALLY lost, many times in Copenhagen. Biking is a major part of Copenhagen culture expansive routes can take you from one end of town to the other and beyond! When I rented a bike from Birgir at Cafe Parforce at the Klampenborg Station my intention was to peddle into town to find the little mermaid. Thankfully, he persuaded me to point my wheels in the other direction to to explore the expansive Jaegersbor Dyrenhave or Deer Park just up the road.
Each entrance to this 10 square kilometer UNESCO World Heritage Site is marked with a red gate and a charming thatched roof cottage where the forest Wardens live.
I’ve had a passion for thatched roofs for years, I love the simple rustic charm they bring. They have been around for centuries and the methodology for creating them has changed very little according master thatchers. What has changed however, is the clientele hiring these craftsmen. What began as a solution for peasants to provide shelter has now become a popular choice for creating charm for a much wealthier customer.
Carefully positioned bundles of long wheat straw or reeds are used to create these roofs which naturally provide water tight and resistant insulation and last for 40 – 50 years. After this time usually only the top layer of bundles needs to be removed and replaced. Base layer sections of roofs that date back 600 years have been found!
The most difficult part of the process is the ridge line which gets the most weather abuse. For the ridge line the bundles are place in opposite directions at the peak with ends extended out that are then folded over to the other side of the roof and secured. It looks like these roof ridges on these cottages have been reinforced by some material and weighted down with rocks or logs.
For the rest of the roof, the twigs in the bundles are packed down to make the butt of the bundle even, then tightly packed together all in the same direction. Each bundle is secured with a “spar”, created with wooden stick that is sharp at each end called “gads”. Usually made from hazel or willow wood, the Master Thatchers twists the middle of the gad to stretch and twist the fibers to create a “U” shaped peg that they push over the butt of the bundle to secure it into position.
Of course a weathered twig fence is the best choice for enclosing these charming abodes.
Formerly the hunting grounds for the Danish royal family, today it is an expansive, natural space for biking, walking, running and the the deer have no fear.
More than 2000 red and fallow deer roam free amongst large open plains, lush forests and lakes.
In the fall wild rutting stags fight for dominance. But life was not always so tranquil and natural for these creatures. Their ancestors were at risk of a brutal death for the entertainment of the king.
In 1670 King Christian V fenced the area to create a “par force” hunting ground called Eremitagesletten. The star shaped road configuration on the property allowed hunters on horseback to keep track of the dogs that relentlessly chased a poor deer to the point of exhaustion. When the beast could go no further the king would dismount his horse and kill the poor beast with his knife before going for a lavish lunch at the lodge. The killed deer would not be consumable because the adrenaline coursing through its veins makes the meat tough and gamey in flavor.
The Hermitage Palace was built at the height of the property to symbolize the absolute power of King Christian VI of Denmark. It was designed by Lauritz de Thurah and constructed between 1734 and 1736. All roads lead to this Baroque style lodge with a copper clad Mansard roof. The position of the windows allowed the meek king to track the comings and goings on his land.
It was designed for the king to host banquets during royal hunts in Dyrehaven and was furnished with a dining table that could be elevated from the basement through a trap door up to the dining room, fully set. This allowed the king and his guests to dine sans staff “en eremit” or “in the hermit style”.
Architectural elements reflect the setting of the lodge.
Two massive sphinx flank the front side of the lodge.
guarding the lodge and overlooking the land.
To see the elaborate interiors of the lodge there is a tour in the summer months. To explore some of the quirks and qualities click on Kings Hunting Lodge.
The forests surrounding Eremitagesletten have been practically untouched for the last 350 years. Dead trees are allowed to fall and rot and become the foundation for continued life in the woods.
By the way, I did eventually peddle to The Little Mermaid, and she is VERY little, I biked by her several times before I found her through the crowds.
I’m hoping you’ve enjoyed this tour. I’ve had some “issues” which have kept me from posting lately, but all is well now and I will be posting again soon! take care,