We get to the old manor house of Gammel Estrup. I thought this castle might have a relation with the longest serving Danish prime minster ever who was from this area and his last name was Estrup – it turned out there was no relation between the former prime minister and this castle – but we went in any way to see this since it is a pretty large castle and in addition there is a museum next to the castle as well which is covered on the entrance ticket.
The house belonged to some very rich noble families but the family had its ups and downs so the castle both prospered at times while it was almost bankrupt at other times. For centuries the castle was passed down from the father to the oldest son – while the younger sons and all the daughters got only a minimal inheritance this way it was possible to keep the fortune on only very few hands in amongst the Danish noble families and the castle was kept as one property with an increasing number of paintings and furniture as time passed by. When the inheritance laws changed in Denmark and the estate after the late father should be divided amongst all the children it became a problem to keep the castle in family hands. When the last owner of the castle died his 16 children decided to sell the castle.
The furniture and the paintings of the castle was scattered divided between the family members and some was sold off. But the castle was turned into a museum and over the years the museum has bought back many of the furniture and paintings from the castle. Apparently the castle has an agreement with the major Danish auction houses so they get informed when some furniture or painting from the castle is offered up for auction so the museum has a chance to buy back the items.
Thanks to the long effort to get the furniture and paintings back it is one of the more interesting Danish castle to go and visit and it is pretty big so you can spend a while wondering around the castle enjoying the furniture and the paintings.
The main attraction is the rooms of the castle but it is also worth having a look in the kitchen and the basement when you are going around the castle.
We found the castle was the main attraction but in other buildings you find a museum of the Danish agriculture. The museum has a section going back in time describing how agriculture and living has changed in Denmark from about 5,000 BC when farming started all the way up to the 1970s. there are displays of how villages has changed in shape and how you have gradually transformed the Danish landscape into a more agricultural landscape with less forest and bogs than there used to be in the old days.
There is also exhibition of how the Danish agricultural industry was transformed radically during the second half of the 19th century when Denmark went from a rather poor agricultural country to one of Europe’s most effective producers of meat and dairy products exporting mainly to the UK. I found the exhibition fairly interesting since I have some interest in Danish economic history dating back to my times at university – but others might find them too detailed and not very interesting.
You can also find a lot of agricultural machinery on display at the museum so you can see how the machines gradually have grown over the years. The museum is located in a small town of Gammel Estrup with limited public transport so it is a bit difficult to get to it if you don’t have your own car. After a visit to the castle you can go to a nearby church. This church is interesting because it has some old graves unfortunately we forgot to go and see the church so I am not sure how interesting it is.