Ordinarily, I would not devote an entire travelogue to a single castle unless it was something on the scale of Versailles in France. Normally, if a castle was really interesting or unique, I would still combine it with a local city or town and devote 80% of the writing to the castle grounds. Like Versailles, I decided to make an exception for Egeskov Castle, located in the south center of the island of Fyn in Denmark. The exception was very much justified, as Egeskov was not just a regular castle ground, but a complex of diverse museums that catalogued lifestyles from the 19th and 20th centuries. It also had playgrounds and activities for children. This place had something for everybody, and it kept me busy for hours on end. The other reason for treating it as an exception was because the nearest town, Kværndrup, was a one-traffic-light dot on the map a few kilometers away and there was nothing but open country in between the ground. Egeskov was therefore very much a location on to its own.
The park was one of the best organized tourist attractions I have visited. The tourism center at the entrance had a site map that provided a very logical sequence of places to go that encircled the castle itself, shown in the first photograph. The tour started with tours of the various gardens on the east, such as the fuschia garden shown in the second photograph. There was also an aviary and walk around the lake shown in the first photograph. There was also the Kitchen Garden, which was the vegetable garden. That was still active and filled with cabbages and other common Danish veggies. I was unable to tell whether or not the veggies were used or if the garden was simply decorative.
One particular garden I loved was the Renaissance Garden in the north. The small bushes were carved by the gardeners into interesting and cute shapes -- cork screws, animals, etc. The third photo contains just a small part of this garden. I was fortunate to have a sunny day with which to enjoy this tour. Although the garden areas were not crowded, there were plenty of locals wandering around with their dogs, many of them seniors. It was late morning when I reached the end of the garden sector, and that's when I started to notice the station wagons pulling into the parking lot, filled with whole families carrying picnic baskets.
There were two price packages -- one including the tour of the castle interior and one without. I opted for without because I had seen plenty of castle interiors in my day and I thought the added cost was probably excessive. For those who hadn't seen any or many castle interiors, then make your own call, and don't let me dissuade you.
Once past the gardens, the western half of the complex housed other museums. The buildings were arrayed almost as though the place used to be a military garrison, as one might deduce from the fourth photograph. Most of these buildings were once warehouses or stables at some juncture, so they were suitable for the large displays that they presently contained. One museum exhibited thirty original period horse-drawn carriages. Another museum building had close to 100 automobiles and 150-200 motorcycles from the middle of the century to the 1980s. Another exhibit showed utility vehicles such as farm tractors, a hot air balloon, and (oddly) a couple Danish jet fighters. There was another whole museum dedicated to Denmark's Falck Company for emergency vehicles and equipment, including fire trucks, ambulances, and the like. I was rather quite stunned, not at all expecting such immense displays on a castle ground, available for free. There was one large room in the Museum for special exhibits, and that day it was Dracula's Crypt. The exhibit itself was basically a dark room with torches and an open coffin in the middle, but all around the exterior was a detailed history of the real Dracula (Vlad the Impaler from Romania) whose real-life atrocities were legendary.
As you can imagine, the kids loved the museums. Around noontime, the post-church family ground has pretty much taken over. Thankfully, they were very well-behaved(although some of them took great delight in pushing the 'listen-how-this-engine-sounds' buttons in the motorcycle museum). The kids also loved the playgrounds, which were HUGE, and included a treetop walk (sturdily constructed rope bridge, shown in the fifth photograph and from where I also took the fourth. In between the rope bridge and museums was a bamboo labyrinth (for lazy adults like me, there was a direct passage to the center available).
I noted that the Danes brought quite a number of picnic baskets. I also noted that picnic baskets (filled with regular picnic type food) were available at the restaurant. By the time I left in early afternoon, when the clouds were beginning to build, the picnickers numbered in the hundreds, including three tour buses that had just arrived. Everyone was out on the grass enjoying the day.
I found Egeskov to be a great place to go on a sunny Sunday. Between the castle and the other activities, it held my attention and my imagination.
Trip taken 1 September 2002 -- Page last updated 13 September 2006 -- (C) 2002 Tom Galvin