UNESCO World Heritage Site

Of uniquely universal importance

Jægersborg Dyrehave

On July 4, 2015, Jægersborg Dyrehave and Hegn, Store Dyrehave and the southern part of Gribskov were listed on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites. The reason was the shape of the hunting road system that was built in the 1680s when Christian V also decided to drive a parforce hunt outside the open Jægersborg Dyrehave. It’s about. 125 km of hunting roads in the forests that came on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Like elsewhere in Europe, the roads form stars in the forests {Fig. A), but they are connected by a regular grid of roads {Fig. E). So strictly no one else had. The norm was a spider web of ’round roads’, which was later often attributed to French architect Le Notre {Fig. C). In addition, the roads got numbers, not names, which made it easier to find around, especially for foreign diplomats.


The advantage of a square grid of roads where the star paths form diagonals is partly that there is always a short path to the nearest star, and partly that the forest can be subdivided regularly indefinitely. Geometry and mathematics thus made the hunting landscape functionally superior to its role models elsewhere in Europe.

In addition, the design had a symbolic function, because one saw the absolute king as God’s representative on earth, and mathematics as the highest expression of God’s reason. Descartes’ geometry has even been called “the key to the whole French baroque”, and his coordinate system is a magic spell that man would use to subdue reality. Thus, Christian V appeared as an absolute ruler, who by means of geometry and mathematics could arrange and control even the chaotic nature. A great king in Europe.

The monopoly parforce hunt

Denmark’s kings cultivated parforce hunting from 1670 to 1777. During a parforce hunt, riders with dogs pursued a selected animal, usually a large red deer, until it could no longer run, i.e. 2-3 hours. When the dogs had “put” the animal, the king or an honorary guest killed it with a short sword, a millet or a spear.


Hallalli in the water. Gouache by J.J. Bruun ca. 1750. Private.

The impressive hunting was a powerful expression of power and was used in the 16th-18th century as such by Europe’s sovereign rulers. They also arranged forests for the hunt. Before formed hunting paths to the square grid {Fig. B), but from the 16th century the French ‘stars’ {Fig. A) Leading in Europe. The ‘star’ the place where eight roads that shared the woods in departments met, was an ideal scene for the culmination of the hunt. On the roads, the hunters could come quickly without riding through swamps and bushes. From the stars there was a good overview of the forest, and here reserves of horses and dogs could wait to be put in. During the hunt, the king could also wait in a hunting pavilion, which was often placed right in the middle of the star {Fig. D). In Jægersborg Dyrehave it was first Hubertushuset, and from 1735 the Hermitage castle.

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