Denmark may be a small country, but it has plenty of castles! And what I particularly like about all these castles is that they are often located in beautiful green spaces. This is the case of Bernstorff Palace, a neoclassical castle located in Gentofte, in the northern suburbs of Copenhagen.
Bernstorff Palace was built in the mid-18th century by Count Johann Hartwig Ernst von Bernstorff, on a land that once housed the pheasant farm of King Christian V (the same king who also had his hunting park closeby, the Jægersborg Dyrehave). Built on the highest point of the park, Bernstorff Palace is considered today one of the most beautiful neoclassical castles in Denmark.
Count Bernstorff was a German nobleman who served as Foreign Minister under Denmark’s King Frederick V. He had a great influence on Denmark’s foreign policies, and he was also the first in the country to implement new agrarian measures on his lands.
Count Bernstorff was also passionate about gardens. He laid out the garden of his palace in the French Rococo style, adding a rose garden, a tea house and an orchard to the property. He also planted many fruit trees, vegetables imported from France and the Netherlands, as well as rare trees and shrubs, some that had never been seen in Denmark before.
Count Bernstorff left Denmark in 1770. His lands continued to belong to his family for some years, before they were sold in 1812. The castle was about to be demolished in 1842, but King Christian VIII bought it and renovated it.
The castle then served as a summer residence for Danish royalty for almost a century. A villa inspired by traditional Swedish architecture was built near the castle at the request of Queen Louise. Count Bernstorff’s garden of exotic trees was replaced with Danish oak and beech, but the rose garden still exists.
Today, Bernstorff Palace (in Danish, Bernstorff Slot) has been converted into a hotel and conference centre. The Swedish Villa houses a café and an art gallery, and the palace property is now a large public park (the Bernstorffsparken).
Bernstorffsparken is really popular, not only for its varied paths (you can walk in a forested area, in open fields or in the gardens), but above all because dogs can be off leash and roam freely there. This is why Bernstorffsparken forest has been dubbed “dog forest”. It is not uncommon to come across dogs running happily on the trails, followed from afar by their masters.
During my visit, I first followed a path in the forest which led me to the palace. I had an ice cream at the café in the Swedish villa, and I visited the current art exhibition. I then took a path through the grass meadow and ended my visit by exploring the gardens of the park. I really enjoyed my visit! I only wished I could have brought my dog with me, I’m sure she would have enjoyed these off leash paths!
Perhaps the best way to get to Bernstorffsparken from Copenhagen is to take the S-Train to Gentofte station. If you have time, take the opportunity to go walk around the pretty Gentofte Lake, located very close to the park.