Gavnø is one of Denmark’s greatest cultural treasures with a unique history. King Valdemar II, the denominator in 1231 “Hall of Gavnø” actually was a fortified castle to protect the southern Danish coasts. Gavnø residents drive also a lucrative piracy on the spot. From the early 1400s to 1536 was here an abbey for noble maidens. In 1737, the State art lovers Count Otto Thott Gavnø. He is the founder of the castle’s impressive collection of paintings, Rococo interiors as well as manuscripts and books. Today the palace privately inhabited by Baron and Baroness Reedtz-Thott, but parts of the castle is publicly available.
The main building and park
Castle’s construction began in 1402 when Queen Margrethe in listed one of the two sole Dominican nunneries in Denmark. Abbey Church of Gavnø south wing is identical to nonneklostrets building constructed years 1402nd North Wing is built around year 1650 and is protected. The construction of the east and south wing, as it appears today is completed in approx. 1750 and protected. There is public access to the entrance to parts of the castle and palace chapel in the period April to September.
The Castle Park is built in the 1750s. Originally it was a French-influenced baroque garden with avenues and parterreplant. The park is open to the public for admission. About 1850 were converted into garden English landscape style, so that grass surfaces were more coherent vision of the park is more open and free. Precisely this kind of isolated noble trees and large lawns appeared 100 years later to be ideal for the construction of a bulb park.
Linden avenue with trees from Kongens Nytorv
The long lime avenue in the southern end of the park were planted in 1755 and is otherwise a fascinating story, with the trees derived from Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen. King Frederik V had planted them there, but when they became too big to stand in the square, the king gave them to Count Otto Thott. The trees were now on horse transport to Gavnø and planted in the park where they stand high and majestic in the southern Sealand soil. The castle’s art collection holds an engraving from 1703 showing Christian Gyldenlove funeral. The funeral moves from the Military Mission in Copenhagen over Copenhagen. Here you can see the linden trees, before they came to Gavnø.
The Alley of Japanese cherry trees
The current owner, Baron Otto Reedtz-Thott, was introduced to the Japanese entrepreneaur Mr. Takaki by his uncle in the mid 1980’. Mr. Takaki established a bakery in Hiroshima in 1948, a few years after the end of the 2nd World War. In 1959 he visited Denmark for the first time and discovered Danish pastry. He became very impressed with the flavour and texture of it. In 1962 Mr. Takakis bakery was the first in Japan selling Danish pastry.
Mr. Takaki had for some years done business with baron Otto Reedtz-Thott’s family cooperation, Tholstrup Cheese A/S, importing its cheeses to Japan, and was invited to visit Gavnø. Mr. Takaki was taken by Gavnø and was of the opinion that it was one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen.
By his death in 2001 baron and baroness Reedtz-Thott was contacted by his family. The family sought permission to raise a monument honouring the memory of their late father along with plaing 200 Japanese cherry trees along the road to Gavnø.
Each year Gavnø greets representatives from Mr. Takakis family or Andersen Group, who wishes to visit the very place that the founder of the Andersen Group was so inspired and taken by. Since 2007, Andersen Group has opened two bakeries in Copenhagen named ”Andersen Bakery”. The beautiful alley and the monument can be seen along the road leading from Gavnøvej to Gavnø. The monument is placed on the left side of the alley. The 200 cherry trees blossom in May.
Sculptures and Monuments
There are a number of sculptures and monuments in the park, including the memorial in support of His Excellency, Council President, Lensbaron Kjeld Thor Tage Otto Reedtz-Thott – Knight of the Elephant and Knight of the Dannebrog and Dannebrog man – who held the barony Gavnø in 61 years. Memorial aid was raised on 22 March 1912. His Excellency was also superintendent of Herlufsholm School and Manor.