Slagelse makes a good base for exploring one of Scandinavia's major Viking reconstructions, Trelleborg, as well as a center for exploring Antvorskov, the ruins of a former royal palace and monastery. While still based at Slagelse, you can view both of these attractions in 1 busy day.
Although it's merely a mock representation, you can experience Viking life as lived 1,000 years ago at Trelleborg Allé (tel. 58-54-95-06), the reconstructed fortress of Trelleborg. Trelleborg is the best preserved of the quartet of Viking ring fortresses in Denmark. Expect an agenda-loaded schedule once you arrive: You can feel replicas of Viking tools, see household items used by Mrs. Viking, view the inevitable weapons of the day, soak up the atmosphere in a re-created Viking house, and, best of all, enjoy the beautiful Danish countryside surrounding Trelleborg. You can also take part in various events staged throughout the summer, including longbow archery, Viking cooking, sailing, martial arts, games, a Viking pageant, and a Viking market.
A reconstructed Viking house at the entrance was built in the Viking stave style, with rough oak timbers rising above mud floors. Warriors and their families used the earthen benches inside for both sitting and sleeping. The central hearth, as in this house, usually had an opening in the roof for venting smoke. This house and other reconstructions were based on finds excavated from an actual settlement on this site, dating from 1000 to 1050.
The ring fortress consisted of a circular rampart with wooden stakes inserted in the earth, and it could be entered through four different gates. From these entrances, four lanes led to the heart of the fortress. This divided the ring into four quadrants, with about 16 houses laid out in each quadrant. A moat protected the eastern side of the fortress, whereas two small rivers and a marshland secured the other three sides.
The Trelleborg Museum contains a shop selling reproduction Viking jewelry, books on the era, a film room, Viking exhibitions, ship models, ancient artifacts, and a cafe. The 20-minute video shown here will help you understand Trelleborg better before you actually explore it.
It is open Saturday to Thursday 10am to 5pm, and you can allow at least an hour for a visit, perhaps more if you find the site intriguing. Admission is DKK55 ($9.40/£5.50) adults or free for ages 18 and under.
By Car -- Trelleborg is 6km (3 3/4 miles) west of Slagelse. Follow Strandvejen until its end at the village of Hejininge, where you'll see signs for Trelleborg, which is less than a kilometer (1/2 mile) away.
By Bus -- You can take bus no. 312 from Slagelse right to the gate. There are several buses daily.
By Bicycle -- You can cycle your way to Trelleborg on a rented bike from Slagelse. The tourist office will give you a brochure outlining points of interest along the cycle trail.
Today only the ruins of this former monastery and royal palace can be viewed, but much of Danish history happened on this spot, 2km (1 1/4 miles) south of the center of Slagelse near the road to Næstved. In 1164, King Valdemar I founded a monastery here, dedicated to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. In time it became the major seat of the Order of St. John throughout the Nordic countries.
The monastery's chief legend centers on Hans Tausen (1494-1561), who preached a sermon in Antvorskov that paved the way for the Reformation in Denmark. This renegade monk, who trained at Antvorskov, then one of the richest monasteries in the country, became a disciple of Martin Luther, whom he had heard preach in Wittenberg. Tausen became so inflamed at the abuses of the Catholic Church that he delivered a fiery speech upon his return to Antvorskov.
When the Reformation did come, the king confiscated Antvorskov, and it eventually was turned into a hunting manor. In time, it fell into disrepair, its buildings sold or carted off. When it was deemed unsafe, the monastery church was torn down. The E20 motorway from Copenhagen buried about half of the former grounds of the monastery, but you can still see some of the brick foundations.
Don't expect a formalized museum if you opt to visit this site, as it's little more than a ruin, with no guardian, no fence or barricades, no telephone contact point, no formal hours, and no admission fee.
By Bicycle -- To reach the site from Slagelse, follow Slotsalleén from the heart of town, turning right when you reach the end of this road, and then follow the signposts into Antvorskov.
This is a large, privately owned park set in one of the most beautiful parts of Southwest Zealand, 23km (14 miles) north of Slagelse. The grounds contain a stunning Japanese garden designed by the Danish landscape architect H. C. Skovgård, and also a young oak forest with a woodland lake. There are plenty of benches throughout the park, and packed lunches may be eaten in the courtyard garden. Here you can also see cows being milked, horses grazing, and goats, rabbits, and calves that come right up to you. There are also a playground for children, a cafe offering refreshments, and a kiosk selling ceramics, porcelain, and jewelry. Birkegårdens Haver lies at Tågerupvej 4, at Tågerup, near Kongsted (tel. 58-26-00-42). It's open from April 10 to September 12 daily 10am to 6pm (July-Aug to 9pm). Admission is DKK80 ($14/£8) for adults, DKK70 ($12/£7) for seniors, DKK20 ($3.40/£2) for children 2 to 14, free for children 1 and under.
By Car -- To reach the gardens from Slagelse, drive north for 27km (17 miles) from the town center, following the signs that point to Kalundborg.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.