The King’s Landscape

In the North Zealand forests, it is still possible to discern the perfectly straight hunting rides that intersect each other in orthogonal star shapes and divide the forests into large triangles. The rides were established by Christian V in the 1600s for par force hunting.

Shortly after he ascended the throne as Denmark’s absolute monarch in 1670, Christian V enclosed the area that is now Jægersborg Deer Park and Enclosure. In the 1680s and 1690s, Christian V expanded his par force hunting grounds by constructing many kilometres of hunting rides in Gribskov Forest and the Great Deer Park.

The hunting rides allowed hunters to move rapidly through the otherwise impassable forests without getting injured or losing their way. A quick glance at a map of North Zealand reveals the striking geometry of this system of hunting rides. The forest landscape is truly Baroque on a large scale, deliberately planned to demonstrate the absolutist monarch’s divine greatness.

The Royal Danish par force hunt was discontinued in 1777. Since then, there have been no more par force hunts in the Great Deer Park, Gribskov Forest or Jægersborg Deer Park and Enclosure. Forestry became more important than hunting, and a new function was found for the hunting rides. Indeed, about 85% of the hunting rides built in the 1600s still exist in Gribskov Forest and the Great Deer park today, where they bear witness to the golden age of par force hunting. In this way, Christian V’s par force hunting landscape lives on. It is now also included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.