Tourists flock to Denmark’s Viking sites

Step back in time at Denmark's Viking strongholds Image: Wikipedia/ Thue C. Leibrandt

TOURISTS are flocking to Denmark to visit its newly UNESCO-listed Viking fortresses. Last year, five Viking fortresses across Denmark—Aggersborg, Fyrkat, Nonnebakken, Trelleborg, and Borgring—were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Constructed between 970 and 980 CE, these monumental ring-shaped fortresses share a uniform geometric design, reflecting the strategic military planning of the Viking Age.

Exploring Denmark’s Viking Fortresses

Denmark served as a central hub for Viking expeditions, which were characterised by sea travel, trade, exploration, and conflict. The Viking Age brought significant change to Scandinavia, including new settlements and established trading routes. With these developments came the need for improved defences, leading to the construction of these impressive fortresses under King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ Gormsson.

Historical Significance of Denmark’s Viking Sites

The fortresses were strategically positioned near important land and sea routes, using the natural topography for defensive purposes. Despite their scale and sophisticated design, the fortresses were short-lived, potentially serving as defensive structures for only about ten years. They were intended to protect the local population and support the army, enabling Harald Bluetooth to deter attackers and respond to threats effectively.

Features of Viking Ring Fortresses

Denmark’s latest UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the well-preserved Trelleborg fortress, which is a popular tourist attraction with its adjacent museum and reconstructed Viking village. Aggersborg, the largest fortress, features extensive timber streets and numerous houses. Fyrkat, located in Jutland, includes a reconstructed longhouse and evidence of a diverse population. Nonnebakken, hidden beneath modern Odense, is named after a 12th-century nunnery. Borgring, near Copenhagen, remains a focal point for ongoing archaeological research.

Tourism Boost Expected from UNESCO Listing

The UNESCO designation is expected to boost tourism and support further research into these historical sites. Rane Willerslev, museum director of The National Museum of Denmark, emphasised that this recognition will enhance future research and attract more visitors. The fortresses, built to defend against internal conflicts and assert the power of the Jelling Dynasty, stand as significant reminders of the Viking Age’s legacy.

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!