Looking at the amazing feats of human ingenuity, I wondered what inspired the men? Why did they risk their lives to cross the ocean? What motivated them to plan, finance, and build castles? And why construct lavish cathedrals? Were they driven by pride or envy? Was worship a driving force? As I tried to decipher motives, I also wondered what the lives of Scandinavian ancestors could teach me?
The Viking Ship Museum
The oldest historic ruins on the tour were five Viking ships. Between 800 and 1066 AD, Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians sailed all over Europe and the North Atlantic to plunder and trade.
The ships' remains hint at their owners' motivation. It seems that the Vikings risked their lives to gain goods and land. However, the ships' skeletons also revealed what was of ultimate importance to them. When their homeland was in danger, the sailors sank their source of livelihood to protect their homes and families.
|A replica of the Viking ships sits dockside for visitors to examine.|
The second sight my husband and I visited was the Roskilde Cathedral, resting place of 39 Danish monarchs.
"No," he replied.
Such skepticism contradicts the message of the cathedral which King Harald built as testament to his rejection of Nordic superstition and conversion to Christianity. The king who had his family memorial inscribed “that Harald who .... turned the Danes to Christianity”; he also had the family memorial stone illustrated with an imprint of the crucified Christ.
Putting the two opposing realities together, I wondered: Is the resurrection of King Harald's Christ as superstitious to Danes today, as Nordic deities were to the king? If there is no resurrection, where does that leave the monarchs? But, if what King Harald believed is true and there is a resurrection after death because of Christ's sacrifice, what difference would it make to the Danes? And, if there is a resurrection, how should I live?
|Photo: Thomas Rahbek|
|Elsinore is actually Kronborg Castle. Photo from Head in the Sand blog.|
Hm, why did we build the home we built?
As imposing as this edifice looks it would not be invincible today; I wonder what defenses we build today will seem futile in another century?
Not to be outdone by his father, Frederik II, Christian IV of Denmark set out to build a palace better suited for a King than the Kronborg Castle. Construction began for Frederiksborg Palace in 1599 and lasted for 22 years. Seeing the architecture and the interior treasures, it is amazing it could be completed in such a short time.
The exterior Renaissance architecture,
and sculpted bronze statuary contribute to an extravagant whole.
Yet, Christian IV was not content with an architectural masterpiece, he also commissioned extravagant gardens.As phenomenal as the landscape and palace are the most elaborate part of Frederiksborg Palace is the chapel. It is downright opulent.
Hopefully, this mini-tour of Denmark caused you to self-reflect. It sure made me think!
(My next post will be on the interiors of this castle and Frederiksborg Palace. They are inspiring!)