Difference between revisions of "Zealand"
Revision as of 15:38, 21 August 2010
Zealand (Danish: Sjælland, ) is the largest island in Denmark, located between the Island of Funen and the southern tip of Sweden. It is the seat of the capital Copenhagen. In addition to Zealand this region also encompasses the islands of Lolland, Falster and Møn, as well as numerous small islands.
Rumours has it that Zealand was carved out of Sweden (See the ancient legend on your right), and the area where Zealand was carved out from, is now a huge lake which bears some similarity to Zealand. Today a large statue commemorating Gefions feat of ploughing Zealand out of Sweden with her ox cart stands near Kastellet in Copenhagen.
And for many years to follow, Gefion's Zealand was the geographical centre of the Danish Kingdom, as Sweden's three southern most provinces was then an integral part of Denmark. But the Swedes had their vengeance for Gefion's dirty tricks, though they had to wait a thousand years to taste it. In 1658 they took the eastern part of the Kingdom, in one of the countless wars between the two countries, so that Denmark now ended on the shores of Zealand - hence the rather odd location of the Danish capital.
Much has happened since then, and today nearly half of the population of Denmark lives on the island, where also the capital and largest city Copenhagen is situated - the metropolitan area covers almost the entire north eastern portion of the island, and many people on the rest the island commutes to the capital every day.
Zealand is a quite large island, at just over 7000 km2 (2,715 sq mi), it's among the 100 largest islands in the world. It's flat, but dominated by low rolling hills from moraines left behind from the last ice age - the highest point, Gyldenløves Høj, is only 126 meters (413 ft) above the sea. It's heavily cultivated, but there are some (by local standards) large forested areas in Northern Zealand and on Western Zealand between Slagelse and Sorø.
Although densely populated and the seat of the Danish capital, Zealand is an island - in the past 15 years two fixed connections to Jutland and Sweden respectively have been completed, but there is still numerous ferry lines connecting Zealand with the European continent.
Zealand is connected to the European highway network on European routes E20 running between Shannon in Ireland, and St Petersburg in Russia, the E47 between Lübeck, Germany and Helsingborg in Sweden and finally the E55 between Helsingborg, and Kalamata in Greece. Please note that all of the ferry connections listed below, also take on cars. Avoid highways leading into Copenhagen in the morning rush hour between 7-9AM, where traffic is notoriously slow for tens of kilometers.
There are numerous trains connecting Zealand with Funen and Jutland, they all cross the Great Belt fixed link. The Main lines departs from Copenhagen twice every hour, usually divided in a Express and a Intercity train, and runs across the length of Zealand with stops in Roskilde, Ringsted, Slagelse and Korsør before crossing the Belt and Funen, and finaly branching out when they reach Jutland. The most important branches being Århus/Aalborg running North, Esbjerg running west and finaly Sønderborg running south. All cross belt trains are operated by DSB (Danish Railways. International trains depart Copenhagen Central station for Hamburg and Berlin serveral times per day, stopping in major Zealand cities; Næstved, Vordingborg and Nykøbing Falster on the way. There is also connections between Copenhagen and Ystad, Göteborg and Stockholm in Sweden across the Øresund bridge.
Buses between Zealand and Jutland are only marginally cheaper than the train, although there is considerable discounts between Monday - Thursday. The International buses on the other hand offers considerably lower prices than the train. Copenhagen due to its size, acts as the central hub for all bus lines, but the highway buses for Jutland, listed under Copenhagen, makes stops in both Roskilde and Holbæk.
The vast majority of regional transportation is done by train, the bulk of it on the 4 main DSB  corridors, radiating out of Copenhagen. It is worth noting that that the ticketing system changes in Borup and Hvalsø, roughly half way between Roskilde and Holbæk & Ringsted respectively, if you cross these cities "All-Zone" tickets bought in Copenhagen are no longer valid, and you need to purchase train tickets with DSB instead,
The regional transportation agency for the whole region is Movia . Though the lionsshare of long distance transportation in the region are done by train, there are a few important interregional routes namely:
And two mainly summer express buses which non-stop between Høje Taastrup and the beaches and vacation homes in North-Eastern Zealand:
The most important ferry route on Zealand is between Hundested and Rørvig , crossing the big fjord in northern part of the island. Many of the smaller islands dotting the sea around Zealand and Lolland are also connected by ferries, check these in the relevant sub regions,
While the rest of Denmark is aptly represented in terms of local specialties, the closest Zealand gets is probably the famous smørrebrød, meaning buttered-bread, which has its origins in Copenhagen. These open faced sandwiches of rye bread and butter, comes with as many as 250 different toppings, and are usually finished by some elaborate decorations. Smørrebrød is usually eaten at lunch.
Further south, on the island of Møn the local specialty is bidesild (chewy herring) and is herring that has been pickled in brine over several years, and is served with bread and fat.
There are several breweries dotted around Zealand. Carlsberg & Tuborg, Denmarks major brands used to be produced in Copenhagen but production has now moved to Jutland, but there are serveral other local brands to choose from
The Swedish province of Scania is an easy trip by ferry or train from most parts of eastern Zealand. It shares a common history and heritage with the island.