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1. The red gates

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Today there are 15 gates to Dyrehaven: the most famous is Klampenborg gate at Klampenborg station. The gates were painted in their characteristic red colour from very early on, and the current look dates back to the mid-18th century, with lintels labelled with the monogram of the reigning monarch. The construction is very strong to prevent the gates from leaning. There are no deer grids at the gates due to the many horse-back riders in Dyrehaven. However, it is very rare that a deer escapes outside the fence.

2. Kirsten Piil’s Spring (Kirsten Piils Kilde)

In prehistoric Denmark, Danes were already celebrating midsummer by drinking and bathing in the water of springs. These were attributed with special powers, and the midsummer events became festive occasions. After the introduction of Christianity, these festivities were dedicated to John the Baptist (in Danish Sankt Hans) and the power of the spring was supposed to be extra potent on his birthday on 24 June. According to legend, a devout woman named Kirsten Piil found a spring with particular healing powers in 1583. The sick flocked to this spring during the midsummer period around John the Baptist’s birthday (Sankt Hans), when traders, menageries, actors and fair performers made camp in the so-called ‘spring markets’.

 

3. Dyrehavsbakken amusement park

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Dyrehavsbakken, colloquially known as Bakken, started in 1583 as a spring market at Kirsten Piils Kilde. At 430 years, Bakken is the oldest amusement park in the world and is much older than Dyrehaven itself. As time went by, there were so many stall holders that the area around the springs became too crowded, and the stall holders were assigned spaces by the Master of the Royal Hunt on the site where Bakken is located today. The wooden roller-coaster, with 987m of track, was the longest in Europe when it was built in 1932.  Bakken is open from March to September, and entrance is free.

4. Hackney carriages

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Until the Klampenborgbanen railway was inaugurated in 1863, people who did not own their own carriage could get from Østerport to Dyrehavsbakken in horse-drawn hackney carriages with room for 10-12 passengers. The carriages were called ‘kaffemøller’ (coffee mills), because during the season they drove Copenhageners to the coffee houses and bars at Bakken.

Today, you can rent a hackney carriage with driver to tour around Dyrehaven in style. The carriages stop on Peter Liepsvej in front of the Klampenborg gate.

5. Peter Lieps Hus (Peter Liep’s House)

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Peter Lieps Hus is the most famous restaurant in Dyrehaven and was originally named Kildehuset(The Spring House). Peter Liep (1837-1896) became the first real gamekeeper of Dyrehaven at the young age of 20. He managed to kill about 11,000 heads of deer before he retired at 51 years old, because by that time he weighed about 140kg and found it a little difficult to sneak up on the deer! Before he became so large, he dressed in women’s clothing or hid in a hollow tree, which is still standing at the golf course, to get within firing range of his target. Peter Liep often rowed King Frederik VII’s (1848-63) boat when the King used to fish for carp in the Hjortekæret lake, and the two of them spent many festive hours together. In 1864, Peter Liep was called up as a sniper in the war against Prussia, but he did not participate in the Battle of Dybbøl due to sickness. In 1880, he moved from the ganekeeper’s house at Hjortekær to Kildehuset, where he became an innkeeper. He was also known to enjoy the pleasures of his own regular table, where he often told stories. He died here playing the game of cards known as L’hombre in 1896, and the restaurant then became known as Peter Lieps Hus (Peter Liep’s House).

The original building was from the late 18th century, but the house burnt down in 1915, and was reconstructed before burning down again in 1928. It was rebuilt in the style it has today, but in 1952 the extensions burnt down. The reconstructed extensions as well as a pavilion from 1960 are today known as Peter Lieps Hus.

6. Eremitageslot (Hermitage Palace).

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The top of Eremitagesletten, where five parforce hunting paths meet (see more under The History of Dyrehaven), is crowned by the small Eremitageslot (Hermitage Palace), built in a late-baroque style by Lauritz de Thurah in 1734-36 and commissioned by King Christian VI (1730-1746). Originally, one of the farms of the village of Stokkerup was located here. A small lavatory was built on this site for King Christian V (1670-99) to use in his old age when he was hunting. The lavatory was extended to Hubertushuset (Hubertus House), where the King and his entourage could eat privately without servants listening in, i.e. a ‘hermitage’. The middle part of the table was a sort of dumb waiter lift that could be lowered into the kitchen from where freshly prepared dishes could be sent up for the hunt banquets. Tsar Peter the Great was a guest here in 1716. This installation was called a hermitage or a royal banquet machine. However, Hubertushuset was torn down after 40 years, and no pictures exist of the old house.

Originally, the new Eremitageslot also had a royal banquet machine but this was removed in the late 18th century.

Eremitageslot has been the hub for royal hunting events for centuries and it has been renovated several times, most recently in 1979-1991. The palace belongs to the Danish state, which lends it to the Danish Queen Margrethe II, who hosts lunches there on a regular basis. The palace is closed to the public, but has been open on special occasions in connection with fund-raising events for the Danish Refugee Council.

7. Stokkerup Kær (Stokkerup Pond)

The village pond of the demolished village of Stokkerup can still be seen on Eremitagesletten. Moreover, you can see the contours of house walls in the vegetation, which today is particularly lush where the dunghills used to be more than 340 years ago, for example note the many stinging nettles.

8. Skovfogedegen (The Forester Oak)

The oldest tree in Jægersborg Dyrehave is hollow and stands like a sentry box, welcoming visitors in front of the road leading up to the red gate on Peter Liepsvej in Klampenborg. The oak tree is called Skovfogedegen and is believed to be around 850 years old, meaning that it was already growing when the Danish Archbishop Absalon built his castle to found Copenhagen.

The oak was named ‘Skovfogedegen’ because it stands at the forester’s house: Klampehus. Skovfoged means forester in Danish. In the past, foresters were entitled to sell schnapps, and one of the foresters used the hollow tree as a public house. Later, the tree was used as a chapel by the renowned German forester J.G. von Langen who was head-hunted to Denmark by King Frederik V in 1762 to put the Danish forestry authority into shape. Von Langen and his German employees were Catholics and held services in the hollow tree.

Later the tree was used for more secular purposes such as a peat shed and a door was installed. However, the door was removed a long time ago.

9. King Christian V’s Oak.

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At Femvejskrydset north-east of Eremitagen stands an oak that witnessed King Christian V (1670-99) being kicked by a wounded stag during a parforce hunting event in 1698. The kick was a contributory cause of the King’s death in the subsequent year, and the oak was therefore named after him.

10. Englænderegen (The Oak of the English)

Englænderegen is situated by Magasindammen (Magazine pond), and is a very old tree which almost died a couple of hundred years ago. However, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs at the time received a message from the United Kingdom: One of the soldiers who had been part of the siege of Copenhagen in 1807, when the British for example set up camp in Dyrehaven, confessed on his deathbed that he had helped kill the treasurer of his regiment. The soldiers had stolen the box containing the soldiers’ wages and buried it by the characteristic old tree north-east of Eremitageslot.

This triggered a true treasure hunt and people dug all around the tree, exposing the roots so much that they tree began to shoot new sprouts. However, the treasure was never found, and it might still be there!

11. Ulvedalsegen (The Wolf Valley Oak)

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The 600-700 year-old hollow Ulvedalsegen oak tree in the middle of Ulvedalene (The Wolf Valleys) was about to die 100 years ago. But when people started to conduct large theatrical performances in Ulvedalene in 1910, it was necessary to dig and disturb the soil around the tree and, as a result, it sprouted back to life. The tree, which was originally named Teateregen (The Theatre Oak) because it figured as scenography in the performances, has been polished on the inside by many generations of children at play.

12. Hvidtjørnesletten (Hawthorn plains)

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Like the old oak trees, hawthorn is characteristic of Jægersborg Dyrehave, and it is especially picturesque when the entire Hvidtjørnesletten at the Springforbi area is in bloom in late May. For many people, it has become a tradition to go on a picnic on the first Saturday in June dressed in white, just like Hvidtjørnesletten.

The several-hundred year-old hawthorns look so spectacular because they have been kept down by the deer eating the fresh shoots, despite the thorns. This has made the stems creep across the ground until they have become gnarled and so thick and strong that they can resist the deer.

The hawthorns are self-sown except from in the area near Taarbækstien (Taarbæk path) which holds an anonymous mass grave for the victims of the great plague epidemics in Copenhagen in the 17th and 18th centuries. The grave has been planted with hawthorn to safeguard the peace of the dead.

13. Blå Bomme

Three-quarters of a kilometre north of Peter Liep’s House is an the Blå Bomme oak alley which marks the north-western border of von Langens Plantage, named after the German forester who was head-hunted to Denmark in 1762 to put the royal Danish forests into shape. He afforested the area with 20 different tree species, among them the tree which today is Denmark’s tallest chestnut as well as silver fir, elm, oak and beech.

New trees have been planted under the trees planted by von Langen, in four fenced-in areas to protect them from the deer until they are tall enough in 50 years time.

14. Fortunens Indelukke (Fortunen’s Enclosure)

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In the westernmost part of Dyrehaven, between Fortunen and Hjortekær, is a deer-free zone. Fortunens Indelukke, which is the name of the large enclosure, shows how the forest develops if it is not eaten by deer.  The undergrowth and the self-sown trees are spreading naturally, and the forest is denser and less accessible than the rest of Dyrehaven. Yet there are plenty of paths criss-crossing the enclosure, with Vesthusstien and Kastanie Allé going from one end of the area to the other. The area also has several grave mounds.

15. The monuments on Christiansholmsvej

One of the most beautiful views is from the plateau by Den Skandinaviske Sten (The Scandinavian Rock) on Christiansholmsvej. The rock has no inscription, but it was raised to commemorate a Scandinavian student meeting in Copenhagen in 1845. Later, in 1861, 400 southern Jutlanders travelled to Copenhagen to hold a gathering by the rock, and in 1865 2,000 southern Jutlanders, who in the meantime had been taken over by the Prussians, held a meeting by the rock, with N.F.S. Grundtvig as one of the speakers (a Danish pastor, author, poet, philosopher, historian, teacher, and politician, and one of the most influential people in Danish history). Another rock, Den slesvigske Sten (The Rock from Slesvig), was erected to commemorate these meetings. The ashes of the Danish writer, Georg Brandes, were spread across Dyrehaven from this site in 1927.

16. Magasindammen (Magazine pond)

Magasindammen east of Eremitageslot (Hermitage Palace) is the big crowd-puller when Sportsrideklubben riding club organises the Hubertus Hunt on the first Sunday in November. It is an impressive sight when horses and riders pound across the pond, making the water splash. Almost every year, a rider is thrown off and into the Magazine pond, which got its name when it was surrounded by now burnt down ammunition magazines.

17. The golf course

The Royal Copenhagen Golf Club has its golf course on the northernmost part of Eremitagesletten. The club was established in 1898 and is the oldest golf club in Scandinavia. The present course was laid out in 1928 and players are sometimes visited by the red deer.

18. Mølleå (Mill Stream)

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Close to the border to Jægersborg Hegn in the northern part of Dyrehaven run the last 36 kilometres of Mølleåen stream before it flows into the sea at Strandmøllen. Strandmøllen is one of nine mills along the course of Mølleåen from Furesøen, with the mills at Stampedam, Raadvaddam and Strandmølledam also situated in Dyrehaven.  Mølleådalen (Mill Stream Valley) is known as the cradle of Danish industry, because a number of large businesses were established after the the stream was dammed 400 years ago to utilise the hydropower to manufacture textiles, iron and metal goods, paper as well as weapons and ammunition. Workers’ housing was built at the factories in Brede and Raadvad. Mølleådalen has been designated as one of the 25 national industrial areas of Denmark, and during the Middle Ages, grain was already being ground in the mills by the stream.

19. Korshul lake

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North of Ulvedalene and west of Ulvedalsvej is the small lake, Korshul, which is a kettle hole shaped by melt water after the last glacial period, which also shaped the landscape in Ulvedalene.

20. Præstesletten (Pastor plain)

 The elevated plain right in the middle of Jægersborg Dyrehave was named because the pastor in Lyngby owned the grazing rights to the area. However, legend has it that the pastors of ancient times, the druids, also met here. In the southern part of the plain, you can see the covered entrenchment with room for 300 soldiers, built in 1893 as part of the Vestvolden defences to protect Copenhagen against onshore attack. The fortified positions in Dyrehaven extended from Fortun Fort to Taarbæk Fort.

Deer

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The biggest attraction at Jægersborg Dyrehave is the deer. Hardly anywhere else in the world is it possible to get so close to wild red deer, fallow deer and sika deer, even when they are in rut, but it is important that you respect them as wild animals, and do not feed them so they become tame and therefore become a danger to visitors.

It was King Frederik III (1648-70), who in 1669 demolished much of the village of Stokkerup, had a solid fence constructed around the land and moved the red and fallow deer behind the fence so that he could hunt in his own deer park. Later, his son, Christian V (1670-99), expanded the park and made it suitable for parforce hunting. (For more information go to The History of Dyrehaven).

There was already a population of red deer and fallow deer in the area, but a massive beat flushed game from all over Northern Zealand behind the fencing, and when parforce hunting had impaired the population, red deer from Bornholm, Jutland and Holstein were also introduced to Dyrehaven.   Not in order to breed, but for hunting. Many of the deer died of natural causes shortly after being released. In 1737, Christian VI received 12 white red deer from Elector August of Saxony. The existing white red deer in Dyrehaven are descendants of these. The population of white deer is kept down to 15-20% of the total population. Many of the excess animals are exported. Dyrehaven’s red deer are very popular throughout the world, and some of them are exported as far away as to New-Zealand. Neither Dyrehaven’s white red deer nor the fallow deer are albinos. They have grey snouts and muzzles and grey-blue eyes. 

There are currently about 300 red deer and 1,600 fallow deer in Dyrehaven. Generally speaking they all descend from the same original animals. The forest is also the home of 100 sika deer; an Asian species introduced in 1900.  The deer move in flocks on the Eremitagesletten plain. For the fallow deer, flocks can consist of up to several hundred animals. (For more information about the different species, go to The Animals and Plants of Dyrehaven).

The deer have shaped the open landscape and the unobstructed views in Dyrehaven by biting away all the leaves, shoots, small trees and plants everything they can reach. Each year, a certain number of animals are culled to sustain the balance and to keep the population healthy, although live animals are also exported.   You can see how Dyrehaven would look without the deer in the enclosure at Fortunens Indelukke, where the deer cannot enter.

(For more information about deer, go to The Course of the Year in Dyrehaven).

The deer shelters

Just over 200 years ago, a number of thatched wooden houses were built to store hay as winter feed for the deer, and to provide shelter for them. Today, there are five houses left, two of which are on pillars, but they are no longer used for feed storage. During the winter months, the deer are fed from a tractor, which lays out maize, turnips, oats and hay on feeding grounds around Dyrehaven, also by the beautiful deer shelters. The deer are fed in the morning and this is a good time to watch the deer from a distance.

Ancient monuments

Jægersborg Dyrehave is full of ancient monuments, some standing alone and others in groups. There are about 80 grave mounds, most of them from the Bronze Age, and this appealed to King Frederik VII (1848-63). He was passionate about archaeology, and had a summer residence in Skodsborg named Solhøj after the gold sun disc the king found in a grave mound in Jægersborg Hegn in 1863. The grave mounds are very close to each other in Ulvedalene and on Eremitagesletten overlooking the coast and the Sound.