On the one hand, you see the latest outbreaks of technology and architecture, on the other hand, castles, museums, and centuries-old gardens once again reiterate the greatness of time and design. The most eye-popping example of timeless architecture is the Egeskov Castle.
This 450-year-old castle receives around 200,000 visitors annually, the majority of which are Danes, and only 30% are tourists from abroad.
Egeskov is one of the few castles in Europe that have preserved their extraordinary beauty and will continue to stand as a timeless memorial to human genius.
It has already become an unspoken rule that every castle has something, that is peculiar only to itself and no other building in the world. Egeskov Castle is not an exception in this regard.
Unlike other castles, Egeskov doesn’t stand on the firm and safe ground, soil. It rises high right in the center of a lake. One would think it’s floating directly on the lake with no visible base but transparent water.
The secret is that Egeskov Castle is built on a pile of oaks. Some even say it took an entire forest to build the foundation. So this is how the Egeskov story goes.
In the mid-16th century times were troubling for the rich and noble. This is why many estate owners started to make safety preparations and built secure castles for emergency situations.
After marrying Anne Tinhus and receiving an estate called Egeskov as a part of dowry, Frands Brockenhuus started the construction of the castle and completed it in 1554. According to the order of Brockenhuus, the castle was built on a lake, resting on a big oak piling.
In 1784 Henrik Bille became the new owner of the castle, where his predecessor, Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille currently lives with his wife and children.
In 1986, with the permission of the owners, an exact copy of the Egeskov Castle was built in Hokkaido, Japan. The second replica lacks the water around it, but instead hosts a huge water aquarium.
The castle mainly consists of two parts, which are separated by a thick wall, enclosing hidden stairs and a well for emergency water supply.
This layout was done for purposes of safety. If one part of the building was seized, the residents could move to the second one.
Moreover, the outer walls have openings from where stone or hot liquid could be dropped onto the attackers. Considering the modern self-protection traditions, these openings would also provide a good point for shooting.
It’s obvious that every single detail was calculated when designing the building. People could live in this castle for months without any contact with the outside world.
However, today the name Egeskov Castle includes not only the magnificent building but the vast gardens around it.
Each garden possesses a different style and was designed at one point of Egeskov history, thus bearing the tastes of its previous owners. Egeskov has turned from a secure shelter into a big and amazing farm. The gardens and some parts of the castle are open for visitors.
The Egeskov season starts in May and lasts till September. Although both the castle and the gardens open at 10 am, the working hours constantly change.
The park stays open in May until 5 pm. It is open the longest in July and the beginning of August, extending to 7 pm, and gradually goes back to 5 am in September.
There are two types of tickets you can buy. If you are not a passionate fan of castles, you can purchase admission to the gardens only.
The other ticket includes both the castle and the gardens. Unfortunately, there are no tickets that would admit you only to the castle.
The ticket prices change according to the season as well. Tickets for gardens generally range from 150 DKK (20 €) to 165 DKK (22 €) for adults, and from 80 DKK (11 €) to 90 DKK (12 €) for children 4-12 years old.
If you wish to see the castle as well, you will have to pay around 199 DKK (27 €) for adults and from 105 DKK (14 €) to 115 DKK (15 €) for children.
Children under 4 years old can get admitted free of charge. Remember if you buy a ticket only for the gardens, you can still see the museums, only not the castle on the water.
An experienced tourist knows that before visiting a travel destination you should always make sure there’s an eating place nearby. Hours of walking will not only tire you, but make you starve.
There are both a restaurant and a cafe, where it’s very convenient to have lunch in a group.
Meanwhile, you can bring your own lunch and organize a picnic in the wonderful Egeskov nature. Considering the amount of sites to visit and the time limits, it’s much better to have an open-air picnic, rather than sit in a room and lose the precious minutes.
Interestingly, there are 66 rooms in the castle. Although not all rooms are open for visitors, those which are available promise do leave you admired.
The Yellow Room – This is one of the most popular rooms with tourists. It received its name from the walls, which are all yellow. The contents of the room is Countess Jessy Bille’s dowry dating back to 1875.
The Hunting Room – This room used to be kind of a personal and work corner for Count Gregers Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille, who had a devoted love towards Africa. Hence, the contents of this room includes trophies brought from Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
The Banqueting Hall – Once this room served for banquets, and therefore has comparably more space than other rooms. Once you enter the room, the portrait of Christian IV strikes the eye. Its author is Karel van Mander’s.
The Victorian Room – Despite the name of the room, it bears not only Victorian, but also a number of other styles. The carpets, paintings, curtains, and the whole furniture in general belong to the 19th century.
The Music Room - Who knows what melodies and what masters this room knew? Today visitors can only make guesses and admire the aristocratic Chippendale furniture, and, of course, the piano.
The Admiral’s Room - The room illustrates one of the best examples of Dutch furnishing. The interior is a proof that living in a castle can be very comfortable.
The Tower Room – The Tower room opens a majestic view to the gardens and the surroundings of the castle. This could be the starting point for your excursion (to plan your exploration from above) and a good sum up if you prefer to visit the castle at the end (have one last glance on the beautiful nature of Egeskov).
The Rigborg Room – This room has been a witness to a very sad love story. Laurids Brockenhuus had a daughter, who dared to fall in love with Federik Rosenkrantz. Their love story, however, was not meant to have a happy end.
Brockenhuus found out about the affair and the son his daughter had delivered. Naturally, just like any other 16th century father, he locked her up in the Rigborg Room for five years.
Keep the story in mind while you visit this room, as it’s one of the most interesting places in the castle.
Another peculiarity that makes this room special is Titania’s Palace, which is the reflection of children’s pure imagination. Sir Nevile Wilkinson’s daughter Gwendolen had seen fairies in the gardens and was greatly upset about their living conditions; their houses were the holes in the ground.
Gwendolen made up her mind to provide the fairies with decent housing and asked her father to build a doll house for them.
Sir Nevile was apparently a very caring father, as he not only built a fantastic doll house, but also decorated its 3000 small components with the most precious and remarkable treasures in the world.
The house was finished in 15 years. This fatherly act is worth admiring, but it’s also interesting if Gwendolen still believed in fairies 15 years later. Moreover, did the poor fairies continue to live in ground holes while the house was being built?
Despite this, Titania’s Palace is probably the most famous dollhouse in the world. It is special with the amount of detail observable in any object inside the palace.
No matter how small the objects are, they necessarily bear an embellishment or some kind of decoration.
Veteran car Museum – Probably the most popular museum is the Veteran Car Museum, which was first opened in 1967. It displays vehicles, which are around 50 years old.
Although this time period is not very long, at least in comparison with the castle itself, the rapid development of car industry, including retro car trends, can be easily observed here. In general, the car exhibit possesses 50 vehicles.
The collection of this museum is not limited to cars only. There are also 8 aeroplanes and a helicopter for the visitors’ view.
Falck Museum – The Falck Museum illustrates the history of fire fighting in Denmark. There are not only old but also modern Falck cars. Every August they are put into action on Falck Day.
Grocer’s Museum – Despite the name, Grocer’s Museum, which was opened by the Grocers Association of Funen Museum Committee in co-operation with Egeskov, is a grocer’s shop with old-fashioned design and traditions. You can buy whatever you like as a souvenir.
Motorcycle Museum – This museum of the coolest vehicles ever made not only offers samples of many motorcycle models, but also allows you to hear the sound they make. While you are in the museum, make sure to find the Danish Kyhl marque motorcycle from 1905. It’s the only one in its kind left in the whole world, and it’s displayed in this museum.
Open Depository – The collection displayed at the Veteran Car Museum is not the only one in Egeskov. Open Depository contains cars and motorcycles, 60 and 15 in number respectively, yet to be restored.
The Doll’s House – This is a perfect museum to take children to. There are not only a number of dolls displayed around the museum, but you can also dress some of them up.
You can also see the classroom next door, sit at one of the desks and imagine yourself a student in Denmark about a century ago. Not to bore you with the class, there will be a puppet movie available for visitors.
The Gate House Exhibition – This is the fashion corner of the castle, where the exhibits are dresses once belonging to Baroness Camilla and Countess Jessie. This Exhibition allows the visitors to explore the feminine secrets of the mentioned women. Fashion magazines, dresses from Gagalin, Sonaird, and Worth (famous French fashion houses), shoes from J.A. Petit and so on.
The most remarkable piece is Marie-Antoinette’s dress, more specifically a part of the dress, which was on display in Louvre in 1927.
Old Smithy – The Old Smithy hasn’t changed a bit in centuries. Check the event schedule before your visit.
The Egeskov Gardens are extraordinary not only in their variety of styles, but the history as well.
Although the park layout was created by Niels Krag the Younger in the 18th century, inspired by gardens of Versailles, Fredensborg and Frederiksborg, separate gardens were designed one at a time and each of them bears the print of a specific time period and castle owner.
The gardens look like rooms, the walls of which are the hedges. For example, after walking in a garden with roses, you can step into a hedge room and come across a completely different view.
Some hedges in the gardens are 270 years old and 8 meters high. There are four mazes, some of which are open for visitors, others are closed for the sake of preservation.
Overall there are 17 gardens in Egeskov. They are the following:
Aviaries – You can see birds and squirrels in the Aviaries, which is in the Baroness’s Garden. There are no interesting plants here, the garden is rather simple.
Fuchsia Garden – Egeskov has one of the biggest collections of fuchsias in Europe, more than 1500 varieties. The majority grows in the Fuchsia garden, where some plants are as old as 80-90 years.
These fuchsias are in soil only in the season. Starting mid-September they are taken to green houses, where they await the park opening next year.
Piet Hein’s Sundial – This 11-meter high sundial was introduced to Egeskov by Piet Hein. The instrument used to serve as a clock that works with sunlight and shadow.
Piet Hein’s Maze – This maze, as the name suggests, was designed by Piet Hein. It was opened in 1990 and still welcomes visitors. If you are quick enough, you will get to the center of the maze in 15 minutes.
Piet Hein’s Super-egg – This sparkling egg is another creation of Piet Hein. The egg is in the form of a super ellipse, which was widely used in Scandinavian architecture.
The Deerpark – The Deer park is a wide territory, home to a number of deer. It’s right next to the English Garden.
The English Garden – If you plan a picnic at Egeskov, this garden is the ideal place. It’s situated on the river bank and contains fresh-green lawns and huge trees.
The Herbaceous and Grey Garden – The garden stays colorful throughout the season, a special area in the garden, where the plant leaves are grey.
The Kitchen Garden – This garden dates back to 1972. It was designed on the request of Countess Nonni Ahlefeldt. The main plants of the Kitchen Garden are vegetables and different herbs that are then used in household. You can also see a small mountain with lots of holes. This is a home to cute little rabbits that run through the holes all day.
The Larch Maze – This is the newest Egeskov maze. There is an entrance fee for this one, only 5 DKK (less then a euro).
The Old Maze – The Old Maze dates back to the 19th century, but is, unfortunately, closed for visitors.
The Renaissance Garden – The designer of this garden was Ferdinand Duprat. It is fully in classic style, featuring topiaries in forms of squirrels, peacocks and so on.
The Rose Garden - This garden is the creation of the head gardener of Egeskov Peter Bonde Poulsen. It is comparably newer than the other gardens, and includes over 100 types of roses.
The Scent Garden – Visitors can touch the aromatic herbs and medicine plants to give freedom to all senses. The Scent garden can be considered modern too, it was designed by Peter Bonde Poulsen.
The Water Garden – This garden is a hidden treasure, it’s surrounded by trees and a water passage. The bridge is a perfect romantic spot for lovers.
The White Garden – It’s not difficult to guess that you will find exclusively white plants in this garden. It was designed in 1999 and is very close to the Renaissance style.
The Yew Maze – This circular maze contains Piet Hein’s sundial. The hedges are not very high, so it will seem like a full-scale maze only to children.
The Egeskov Gardens surely take a lot of time and work to look after, but if you fell in love with a particular plant, you can purchase it at the Plant Shop. It is located near the entrance. Keep in mind that the offers of the shop change throughout the year in accordance with the seasons. They sell the flowers that grow in the garden in that period.
One of the most unforgettable experiences will be to stay overnight at Egeskov. Unfortunately, you won’t be allowed to feel yourself comfortable in the castle, but there is a special camping area not too far away from the parking lot.
And the best part of this offer is that it’s completely free. You will have to pay only for the lavatory, which costs 20 DKK (around 3 €) overnight.
There are only a couple of conditions. First, you have to bring your own tent. Second, camping vans and other kinds of vehicles are not allowed.
If you make up your mind to camp, you will most definitely have a night full of stars and a magnificent fairy-tale castle for the view. Sounds quite romantic.
- You can bring your pet along, but only on the leash and only outside the castle.
- Unfortunately, there are no accessibility facilities inside the castle. The management claims to be working towards it. Before that happens, gardens and the museums are fully accessible.
- Wheelchair assistants are admitted free of charge.
Egeskov Castle – built in the 16th century (completed in 1554)
Foundation – oak piling
First owner of the castle – Frands Brockenhuus
Current owner – Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille
Similar buildings – an exact copy of the castle in Hokkaido, Japan
Tourist Season – from May to September
Tickets for gardens only – 150 – 165 DKK (20 – 22 €) for adults, 80 – 90 DKK (11 -12 €) for children
Tickets for gardens and the castle – 199 DKK (27 €) for adults, 105 – 115 DKK (14 -15 €) for children
Free admission – children 4 years of age, wheelchair assistants
Eating places – a restaurant and a cafe available
Castle rooms – Yellow room, Hunting room, Banqueting room, Victorian room, Music room, Admiral’s room, Tower room, Rigborg room
Museums – Veteran car museum, Falck museum, Grocer’s museum, Motorcycle musum, Open Depository, Doll’s House, Gate House Exhibition, Old Smithy
Gardens – Aviaries, Fuchsia garden, Piet Hein’s Sundial, Piet Hein’s maze, Piet Hein’s Super-egg, Deerpark, English garden, Herbaceous and Grey garden, Kitchen garden, Larch maze, Old maze, Renaissance Garden, Rose garden, Scent garden, Water garden, White garden, Yew maze