Step inside Byens Hus
An extravagant city council hall and an old hospital now serve as a new kind of community center at the city’s finest address. Everyone is welcome!
Af Jakob Fälling
The staircase leading up to the Old City Council Hall is as magnificent as a church room and painted in the loveliest sky-blue color. The staircase is, in fact, the old tower room of St. Laurentius Church. The church was demolished in 1531, but the tower was allowed to remain standing; today it rises above Stændertorvet Square and the Byens hus (The City’s House) complex.
Roskilde city hall has stood here since 1735, while the most recent building is from 1884. Ascending the staircase and passing through the vestibule, you come to the amazing city council hall from 1884. The high-ceilinged hall has beautifully ornamented wooden benches and plaster busts of Danish regents painted to resemble bronze.
The most impressive of all is the imitation gilded leather wallpaper, which is painted with gold leaf. By mistake, the central motif – the city’s coat of arms, the eagle – is printed in reverse. This hall now hosts wedding ceremonies and is available for use by the city’s associations free of charge.
In 2014, a decision was made to transform the city council hall and the adjacent Duebrødre Hospital into Byens hus. The vision was to create a permanent public meeting place as a catalyst for activity in the neighborhood. Byens hus is now a vibrant hub of lively activity.
The restaurant Grundsmag (Basic Flavors) is on the floor below the city council hall, and the former hospital houses a tourist information center and Bylivslab (Urban Life Lab), an experimental center where municipal administrators and local residents meet. The second floor of the building consists primarily of meeting rooms and offices of associations, while the third floor is occupied by artists and cultural figures who make a mark on the city center.
The building is a hive of activity at most hours of the day and evening, and everyone is welcome to drop by.
- Construction of the Old City Council Hall was funded by the wealthy merchant O.H. Schmeltz, who is portrayed in the classic Danish TV series “Matador”.
- The building closest to the cathedral is the former Duebrødre Hospital, which has been an abbey and hospital since the 1200s. The current building is from 1880.
- The Latinerhaven courtyard is a pleasant public park on the campus of Roskilde High School. The neighborhood has a number of semi-hidden gardens and parks that are open to the public.
- The city’s former jail, located in the St. Laurentius Church tower, is open to the public on Saturdays.
- Rådhuskælderen restaurant is located in the former Duebrødre Hospital kitchen and porter’s residence. The restaurant’s garden is an oasis in the city center.
Roskilde’s city center is rich in impressive architectural works. The Royal Palace and Roskilde Cathedral are the most eye-catching, but a walk through the neighborhood reveals many more buildings and urban spaces of interest.
Along Kulturstrøget (The Culture Street), stretching along the streets of Domkirkestræde and Skt. Olsstræde, you’ll find Roskilde Museum, Roskilde Abbey and Roskilde Library.
On the path from Roskilde Cathedral toward the harbor, you’ll find a number of impressive scenic viewpoints in the English gardens of the 100-year-old Roskilde City Park, which extends all the way to the waterfront.
Stændertorvet Square transforms into a lively outdoor market every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer season.