The Nordics are known for their modern, minimalistic and functional designs unique to Northern Europe. Since the 1950s, Scandinavian designed castles, churches, castles and even furniture have their own distinct style compared to the rest of Europe. Some of my favourites are the Uspenski Cathedral, Rosenborg Palace and Vasa Musuem. Each of these landmarks carry centuries of preserved history and cultural significance.
#1 Uspenski Cathedral
The Uspenski Cathedral is the largest orthodox church in Finland and Western Europe. It is located at the Katajanokka district on a hill, near the harbour and Old Market. There’s no way you can miss the Uspenski Cathedral while walking down the area. Note that it’s closed on Mondays but open Tuesdays – Sundays. There are several staircases up to the Cathedral, but you won’t break a sweat with the cold weather. Be careful as the snow might make the pathway slippery. The view is quite magnificent on the outside and you’ll get tempted to teleport yourself inside.
The Cathedral’s interior is spectacular, it’s ornate designs and dome ceilings with huge chandeliers are remarkable. There’s almost nothing like it. There are many traditional paintings and the architecture is very shiny. The atmosphere is quiet despite the touristy crowd.
#2 Black Diamond Library
The Black Diamond Library is the royal Danish library located at the waterfront harbour in Copenhagen. The building is shaped like an atrium with two cleaves. Its glass exterior is sleek, modern and glistens under the sun. Unlike most royal monuments in Europe that are in classic victorian style, such as the Natural History Museum in London, the black diamond library has a contemporary and futuristic feel. Directly facing the sea, this is a great spot to read a book with an incredible view.
#3 Royal Palace Amalienborg
The Royal palace Amalienborg is home to the royal family in Denmark where they current reside. You can see a grandeur display of four palaces – Christian VII’s Palace, Frederik VIII’s Palace, Christian IX’s Palace and Christian VIII’s Palace.
#4 Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace is located in central Copenhagen, Slotsholmen. Within its compounds lie the Danish Parliament and Supreme Court. Needless to say, this is a place of significant value and epitomises the beauty of Danish architecture.
#5 Rosenborg Castle Garden
The Rosenborg Castle Garden was built as the private gardens for King Christian IV. Walking through this 16th century royal summer house feels pretty surreal, like a small snippet of Rivendell from Lord of the Rings. The garden’s oldest sculpture are statues of the lion and the horse (below), where the lion represents Coat of Arms of Denmark. The sculptures signify the battle of light and darkness, supposedly reflecting distressed emotions the King had when his cousin failed to aid him during the Battle of Lutter in the early 1600s. The open spaces in Rose Garden are shaped like a maze and perfect for an afternoon stroll.
- Located at: Oster Voldgade 4A Copenhagen 1350, Denmark.
- Free Admission.
Rundetårn is an iconic round tower in Købmagergade street. It is an 17th century tower for incredible views of central Copenhagen. Instead of stairs, there are spiral ramps which you can walk up in beautiful winding corridors. The tower is an observatory and planetarium inspired from Dutch Baroque architecture.
- Entrance fee for adults: 25 KR.
#7 Vasa Museum
The Vasa Museum in Stockholm is the only 17th century preserved maritime ship in the world. It took half a century to restore the sunken ship back to its original state. There are hundreds of intricately carved sculptures on the ship and it is 69-metres long. The Vasa is the most visited museum in the entire Scandinavia region, with over a million visits per year.
- Entrance fee: 130 SEK (~15 USD).
#8 Olavinlinna Castle
Olavinlinna Castle is a 15th century stone fortress in Savonlinna, Finland. In the winter, Olavinlinna castle lights up beautifully as well. This medieval castle was used as a garrison during the seige from previous Russian wars and currently holds many artefacts from Russia and Finland. The castle also hosts the famous Savonlinna Opera Festival, held only once every year since 1912. This Nordic castle has been hailed as a fairy-tale opera with performances such as Sibelius’s Kullervo Symphony and Beethoven’s Missa solemnis.
There you have it, our round-up of the 8 most stunning Nordic cathedrals and monuments. Did we hit the right spots? Let us know if you have any recommendations we should check out!