The par force hunting landscape in North Zealand

The forests of North Zealand boast more that just beautiful landscapes. They are also unique cultural sites. Indeed, the forests were landscaped to provide a backdrop for the most magnificent form of hunting: the powerful, absolute monarch’s majestic par force hunt.

One world heritage site – three forests

The par force hunting landscape of North Zealand comprises Gribskov Forest, the Great Deer Park and Jægersborg Deer Park and Enclosure. These three forests represent a unique cultural landscape that bears witness both to the enormous power wielded by King Christian V and to his need to display it by subjugating nature.

In 2015 the par force hunting landscape was inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage list, because it is a unique and authentic example of the interchange and development of ideas about landscape design in Europe in the 1600s.

The hunting rides, which lie at the heart of the par force hunting landscape, bear witness to these developments and show how the absolutist rulers of the continent demonstrated their power by controlling nature.

The hunt

“The thunderous sound of pounding hooves and the baying of excited hounds fills the forest. Around a majestic stag, now brought to bay, stand 20-30 mounted hunters and a larger number of hounds, waiting for the coup de grace. The king enters the clearing where the exhausted stag is pinned down by the hounds. He dismounts, draws his short hunting sword, his hirschfænger, and plunges it into the heart of the stag. The hunt is over”.