UNESCO World Heritage: North Zealand par force hunting landscape
Three woodland areas in North Zealand offers natural and cultural sights. Walk, bicycle – or horse ride – on paths established by kings. Overnight in backcountry shelters.
One world heritage site – three forests
You can visit three different areas: Gribskov and Great Deer Park are just outside Hillerød. Jægersborg Deer Park is close to Lyngby. All are within easy travel distance from Copenhagen.
See the forests, lakes and meadows used by kings to impress and dominate. Three hundred years ago in the 1600’s, King Christian V established hunting roads in a large scale landscape redesign. Now, ‘highways’ crisscross the forests setting the scene for the high-speed chase of game in par force hunting.
One of Denmark’s largest forest areas. Dense old woods and wilderness intersect with open meadows. There is an abundance of wildlife – deer, beaver, badgers, birds – even the rare sea hawk.
In the southern part of the forest, you can experience a unique natural and cultural landscape by travelling the old hunting ‘highways’ laid out in star and rectangular patterns. More information about visiting Gribskov.
Great Deer Park
At first glance a wild forest with old trees, bogs and small lakes. In reality man-made. A geometric system of par force hunting roads overlays the forest and stone walls enclose the whole area.
If you walk from Hillerød Station, you can see Fantasy Island. The ruins of Frederik VII’s small ‘getaway mansion’ where the king would relax away from court. The walk from the station to Great Deer Park is approx 5 km. More information about visiting Great Deer Park.
Jægersborg Deer Park
Eremitageslottet, the royal hunting lodge, overlooks a landscape of beautiful old oaks and herds of deer. You can rent horses and bicycles. A restaurant – Peter Lieps – is located in the park and close by is Klampenborg Racetrack and the oldest amusement park in the world, Bakken. More information about visiting Jægersborg Deer Park.
Visiting the par force hunting landscape
The forests are state-owned. Always open and with free admission. Plan your visit to ensure seeing the highlights. The par force hunting landscape cover a large area – more than 4500 hectares.
For directions from your destination, use Google Maps. Gribskov and Jægersborg Deer Park are accessible by public transport. There is a train station Gribsø in the middle of Gribskov forest – just a few minutes from Hillerød Station. Jægersborg Dyrehave og Hegn are a short walk from Klampenborg Station or Skodsborg Station.
Visit the parforce.dk website for more visitor information. You can print pamphlets with maps and directions.
Par force hunting
Mounted hunters and their hounds pursued the quarry – typically a large stag. The King and his distinguished guests positioned themselves in the grid centre of the roads which provided an overview and easy access to any part of the forest.
When the stag collapsed from exhaustion, dogs held it by biting its throat, ears, legs and muzzle. A horn signal summoned the king. As master of the hunt, he dealt the coup de grace with a spear or a small hunting sword called a hirschfænger. This undertaking was not without risk. In 1698 King Christian V was kicked hard by a stag. He subsequently spent months in bed and died the year after.
Par force hunting reached its peak between the 17th and the late 18th centuries. The forests provide a backdrop for the absolute king’s majestic hunt. Hunting lanes are laid out in star systems and grid patterns using Baroque landscaping principles. Numbered stone posts and fences help to orient. Par force hunting was a grand theatrical event, meticulously planned to demonstrate power and greatness of the king.