Magical Royal hunting ground Dyrehaven – a Downton Abbey-like experience in Copenhagen

When roaming around Copenhagen city center you just might find that there is more to life than shopping, wining and dining. And you’re right! You need to feed your soul as well – and you need to breathe. You need free space, high air, wild animals and the sheer beauty of mother nature, too.

Dyrehaven – Jægersborg Deer Park and Enclosure

All this can be found in close proximity to Copenhagen city center – at the royal hunting ground called Dyrehaven. With its majestic setting, Dyrehaven really is a must visit – you could easily spend hours and hours in this fantastic park. The scenery is breathtaking – you will feel like you’re walking around in a fairytale, when visiting this magical place. Not many tourists find this gem, located just north of Copenhagen near Klampenborg horse race track and the amusement park Bakken. The easiest way to get here is to drive by car, park it at Bakken parking lot and enter through the big gate located just by the parking lot. You can also take a train from Copenhagen central station to Klampenborg station and walk the last 900 meters , takes less than 15 minutes. By the gate you can find a stand with maps guiding you through the park. Bring one with you, so you don’t get lost on your way through it. Cars are almost fully banned from the park, you’ll be able to stroll through the park on roads and paths and just enjoy the atmosphere. You can also bring a bike if you wish.

A dreamy Downton Abbey landscape and scenery

If you’ve ever watched Downton Abbey, it really is that sort of dream like landscape that awaits you – including the Royal Hermitage Palace, built in 1736. The Hermitage Palace stands on the highest point of the park where the hunting roads meet, with great view of the grounds and the sea. The architecture of this palace is laid out so that when the rays of the sun hit the mirrors in the dining room, they reflect on the earthly representative of the sun – the absolute monarch – the King or Queen of Denmark.

Dyrehaven was created in 1670 by King Christian V as a large deer park for the purpose of par force hunting – a brutal form of hunting which requires vast areas in forms of forests, hunting roads and wild animals. Dyrehaven is home to over 2.100 deers and the park is used for hunting to this day. Around 700 deers are killed in the hunt during winter – and 700 calves born each summer. The Danish royal family still occasionally hunt in the park.

Par force hunting

Par force is a French term that translates to “by force”. Hunters on horseback, followed by packs of hunting dogs pursued their prey, often a large red deer stag. From the long straight roads and the star formed layout of the roads, the audience could follow both the prey and the hunters. The prey was followed for hours until exhaustion – when the dogs surround the stag, before a selected, distinguished member of the hunting party would approach the prey to dispatch it with a short hunting knife known as Hirschfænger. In these particular forests the absolute monarch not only led the hunt, but was naturally the one to deliver this final blow – to demonstrate his power and courage. This type of hunting is demonstrated in the annual Hubertus Hunt where approximately 30.000 people turn up to watch Sportsrideklubben riding club when they ride through the park in a show, to remind us of the era of when the par force hunt thundered through the park. Par force hunting is a thing of the past nowadays, a real par force hunt has not been held here since 1777.

Unesco world heritage

Dyrehaven is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site as it is a unique cultural landscape of northern Zealand / Sjælland. In Dyrehaven you get very close to the animals who are very accustomed to human presence. We would not recommend petting them but you will feel that they do let you come that close.

These images are actually not zoomed, we were this close.

Throughout the park there are plenty of places for the animals to eat and drink. Four different kinds of deer populate the park, roe deer, red deer, fallow deer and sika deer. The 300 red deers represent Denmark’s largest mammal with its highly branched antlers. Does and calves can be found in the south of the park while stags keep to the north of it. They can be seen together in September and October, during rutting season.

Dyrehaven is open all year round but a visit on a clear winters day like this – is magic.

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