11km (6 3/4 miles) NW of Vejle; 144km (89 miles) W of Copenhagen
It seems almost impossible to wander this sleepy little village today and realize that it was the site of riotous pagan festivals and celebrations. At the peak of the Viking era, a thousand years ago, Jelling was the Danish Royal Seat, the birthplace of the Danish monarchy. Although the site of Gorm the Old's castle has never been discovered, he was the first in a millennium-long string of Danish kings that continues today in an unbroken line to Queen Margrethe herself.
Gorm the Old and his son, the amusingly named "Harald Bluetooth," left behind two large burial mounds and two runic stones from their reigns. In 1994, these Viking monuments were declared a World Heritage Site. Bluetooth is a towering figure in Danish history, having driven the Swedes from his lands and having begun the conversion of his people from pagan rituals to Christianity.
Most visitors come for the meager glimpse into the secrets of the Viking era, but some remain to wander around the village of Jelling itself, which enjoys idyllic surroundings set against a backdrop of forests and lakes.