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69km (43 miles) SW of Copenhagen; 24km (15 miles) W of Køge; 16km (10 miles) E of Søro; 28km (17 miles) N of Næstved

"Our glory was of another day," the curator of a local museum told us. "But life must go on." He was referring to both the days of those "raping, pillaging Vikings" who made Ringsted a major settlement and also an era during the Middle Ages when Ringsted was a powerful ecclesiastical center.

A sleepy provincial town today, this modern center of 30,000 people makes an ideal base for touring South Zealand, offering excellent rail and road conditions. Route 14 from Næstved to Roskilde intersects the east-west highway (E20) from Køge to Korsør, where you can take the bridge over the Great Belt into Funen.

As late as the 4th century, Ringsted was the site of "the thing," or Landsting, as the regional governing body was called, where justice was dispensed. In Torvet, the market square, you can still see a trio of three stones, the Tingstener, or "thing stones," recalling the days when Ringsted was a center of power in Denmark. Also on the square is a 1930s statue of Valdemar I, sculpted by Johannes Bjerg.

In times gone by, Ringsted was where Valdemar kings and many of their successors were laid to rest, in Skt. Bendts Kirke (St. Benedict's Church), dating from the 12th century.

After a long period of slumber following the loss of its royal patronage, Ringsted revived again in the 19th century with the coming of the railway.

You could base in Ringsted for 2 nights if you want to use it as a center for exploring Næstved and Slagelse , two neighboring towns within easy reach, both of which are of historic interest.