Roskilde Cathedral: Visiting a World Heritage Site

Roskilde Cathedral One of our more delightful days in Denmark was spent traveling by train to the city of Roskilde. We had told Andrew we wanted to see a bit of the countryside outside of Copenhagen during our visit, and he suggested we take a short 30-minute train ride and see this World Heritage Site.  It was a great suggestion.

We exited the train station and were immediately drawn into the historic core of this Viking-era city, which features a wonderful plaza and historic cemetery just steps away from the commuter train. We headed down the commercial center of the city towards the cathedral.  In the U.S., this would be considered a classic Main Street community – one in which the Main Street was doing very well.  Andrew and Claire headed off to explore stores, as Candice and I took a more leisurely stroll.

After a walk of several blocks, we came to the Cathedral square.  (Blog interruption:  I’m proud to say that once we exited the taxi at Dulles Airport to begin our trip, we never set foot in another car until we came home.  We traveled by subway, trains, bicycle, and foot throughout the 10 days.  More on this in a later post.)  Roskilde Cathedral was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List because it was Scandinavia’s first Gothic cathedral built of brick.  The cathedral, and the surrounding square, are a wonderful collection of architecture from the medieval period through the 1800s.

Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, this was Scandinavia’s first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick and it encouraged the spread of this style throughout northern Europe. It has been the mausoleum of the Danish royal family since the 15th century. Porches and side chapels were added up to the end of the 19th century. Thus it provides a clear overview of the development of European religious architecture.

Roskilde Cathedral Main Door

Roskilde Cathedral Nave

The brick construction makes Roskilde such a different experience from the typical stone Gothic cathedral.  In the course of our tour, we ran into a very knowledgeable guide who pointed out the areas where the brick was painted and frescoes added (some were being restored).  The cathedral has also served as the burial-place for Danish royalty. These various chapels – added on to the cathedral over time – were very much of their periods and gave the building a layered texture.

Roskilde Cathedral, Burial place of Denmark royalty

Roskilde Cathedral

There were so many wonderful architectural details, that a few pictures cannot do justice to all that we saw.  Ironwork, plaster work, painting, brickwork, woodwork, and so many other features captured our eyes throughout our visit.

Roskilde Cathedral Ironwork

Roskilde Cathedral Detail

Christian IV's box, Roskilde Cathedral

Roskilde Cathedral Clock

Roskilde Cathedral Interior Door

Historic places that date from the 1100s give one such a sense of the continuum in which we exist. Roskilde is such a wonderful example of a place that is of its time(s), yet transcends time. It was such a privilege to spend a couple of hours in this holy and timeless place.

More to come…





Our Scandinavian Adventure (Part 1): Copenhagen

Nyhaus Street in CopenhagenAhhh…the semester abroad.  While Candice and I didn’t have that opportunity when we were students (back in the day), we had heard wonderful stories through the years from friends who visited their college-age children as they were studying abroad.  When Andrew was accepted into the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) for this semester, we immediately began planning a trip to Copenhagen. Scandinavia had been on our bucket list for years. When Claire was able to join us during her spring break for the first week, the 10 days in Scandinavia promised to be a wonderful family adventure.

Now that we’re back home and I’ve downloaded my 350+ photographs, I’ll put together several posts over the coming days to capture our time in Copenhagen and Stockholm.

For the first week, we stayed at a wonderful apartment on Nyhavn street in Copenhagen (shown at the top of the post). With Andrew continuing his urban studies concentration while abroad, we couldn’t have had a better city guide.

The first couple of days we focused on getting acclimated.  Wonderful markets, the active pedestrian street through the heart of the city, beautiful architecture, visits to the Marble Church, and the great view from the top of the historic Round Tower helped us get our bearings.

Pedestrian Street in Copenhage

Copenhagen Square by  Claire

Copenhagen guards

The Marble Church Copenhagen

Copenhagen from the Round Tower

It was great to share time together as a family and explore this beautiful city.

Andrew and Candice explore Copenhagen

Claire and Andrew do the Danish look

Candice and Claire with the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

St. Albans in Copenhagen

Over the course of the seven days we went to several terrific museums.  The Danish Design Museum was a real treat, given our family’s interest in design, planning, and preservation.  But I laughed out loud when I read the following in Patrick Kingsley’s interesting book How to Be Danish:

The fixation with chairs reaches almost comical levels here. As if in a furniture mausoleum, visitors to the museum process past a serpentine line of chairs that never seems to end. Chair after chair after chair; it is like an eery, empty, hyper-extended doctor’s waiting room.

Here’s an example of what Kingsley is talking about.

Copenhagen Design Museum Chairs

Andrew Studies the exhibits at the  Copenhagen Design Museum

All of us made time, while we were in Copenhagen, to visit Rosenborg Castle, home to the royal family. (We caught a glimpse of the Queen while out for dinner one evening.)

Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg Castle by Claire

Rosenborg Castle Great Hall

Finally, our last evening in Copenhagen coincided with our 32nd wedding anniversary.  Claire had left for London, but Andrew joined us for a celebratory meal at Amadeus.  As you would expect of the Browns, we ate very well in Copenhagen.  No, we didn’t make it to the world’s best restaurant (Noma), but we did get to a great Michelin-rated eatery for lunch (Orangeriet) among several other excellent spots.

Candice and David 32nd Anniversary in Copenhagen

Over the next week, I hope to add new posts about the World Heritage Site at the Roskilde Cathedral, thoughts on urban design in both Copenhagen and Stockholm, organs of Scandinavia, views of Stockholm, and whatever else strikes my fancy.  So keep looking.

More to come…



Bare to the Bone

Carrie NewcomerFolksinger Carrie Newcomer played to a packed house at a “rare Monday night Institute of Musical Traditions concert on Saturday night” last evening in Rockville.  As emcee David Eisner pointed out, it wasn’t your usual IMT crowd, but those in attendance kept up the high bar for IMT audiences as they were both knowledgeable and appreciative.

This was my first time to see Newcomer live, and I encouraged Candice to join me, given the singer’s bent for writing from a Quaker and progressive spiritual perspective.  As Newcomer says on her website,

Every day we are living moments of grace and wonder, shadow and light. These are the moments I write about.

Saturday evening didn’t disappoint.  Playing her beautiful Taylor guitar (with an inventive use of capos); singing with that expressive, lyrical, and deep voice;  and accompanied only by keyboardist Gary Walters, Newcomer didn’t hit a false note the entire evening.  Beginning with I Believe, she sang songs from her soon-to-be-released CD A Permeable Life (such as A Light in the Window) as well as old favorites, including the moving Bare to the Bone.

Here I am without a message

Here I stand with empty hands

Just a spirit tired of wandering like a stranger in this land

Walking wide eyed through this world is the only way I’ve known

Wrapped in hope and good intentions and

Bare to the Bone.

When Newcomer ended her encore with the thoughtful Thank You, Good Night from A Permeable Life, we knew we wanted to say the same in return.

Like a long exhale

Like a vapor trail

A wisp of a thing

That changes everything.

Enjoy the beautiful video Everything is Everywhere from Carrie’s 2011 collaboration with Indian sarod masters, Amjad Alk Khan, Amaan Ali Khan, and Ayaan Ali Khan.

More to come…


Fat Tuesday Birthdays…

Birthday Breakfast Fruit

…are MUCH better that Ash Wednesday birthdays.  Trust me, I’ve had both in my life.  So when this year’s special day fell on Fat Tuesday, I decided to celebrate by…eating! (What else?)

Three meals out, and three delicious and artful Happy Birthday treats.  The first one, shown above, was courtesy of my boss, who felt bad that I had to attend a business breakfast on my birthday.  Thank you Stephanie!

Birthday Cheese 03 04 14

The second one – a delightful cheese tray – came courtesy of the fabulous Iron Gate Inn.  I’ve had two meals there in the past three weeks, and it is quickly becoming a favorite.  If you don’t believe me, read Tom Sietsema’s review in the Washington Post.

And the last one…

Birthday Mousse 03 04 14

…was this fantastic chocolate bourbon mousse, topped with fresh whipped cream, shaved chocolate, and raspberries.  This flavorful concoction was Candice’s creation. Thank you, my love!

And with that, it is very appropriate that Lent begins tomorrow.

More to come (but not too much more for the next couple of days!)…