This moated Renaissance island castle is the best preserved of its type in Europe. Plan to spend at least a morning or an afternoon viewing the castle and its historical gardens. Constructed in 1554, it is still privately owned and still inhabited by the descendants of Henrik Bille, who purchased the castle in 1784. The location of Denmark's most splendid fortified manor is outside of the town of Kværndrup, lying 29km (18 miles) south of Odense.

The castle was built on oak pillars in the middle of a small lake, for which thousands of oak trees in the neighboring forests were cut down.

The most dramatic story in the castle's history is about an unfortunate maiden, Rigborg, who was seduced by a young nobleman and bore him a child out of wedlock. Banished to the castle, she was imprisoned by her father in a tower from 1599 to 1604.

Because of private living quarters, only some of the castle is open to view, including the restored Great Hall, which is now a venue for chamber music concerts on 10 summer Sundays beginning in late June and starting at 5pm. The inhabitants of this castle were great hunters, and you can visit a hunting room with some of their most prized trophies, including elephant tusks and the heads of tigers. You can also view precious antiques and classical paintings.

For us the spectacular gardens in the 12-hectare (30-acre) park are even more beautiful than the interior. Laid out in the 1730s, the gardens are among the most dramatic in Denmark. The Fuchsia Garden contains the largest collection of fuchsias in Europe, about 75 different species. The English Garden with its tree-studded green lawns sweeps down to the streams and the castle lake. In summer, the rose beds are a delight to behold, the prize flower being the pink "Egeskov Rose." At a kiosk on-site you can purchase rose jelly. There is also a maze made of cut beech hedges several centuries old, and it's the world's largest maze.

Also on the grounds is a museum of antique cars, old airplanes, and even horse-drawn carriages.