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The Roskilde bishops owned large areas of land in the region including, from 1186, Havn on the Øresund which later became Copenhagen.
By the time of the Danish Reformation in 1536, there were 12 churches and five monasteries in the city.
In the 1970s, the city benefited from the opening of the university and from the completion of the Holbæk Motorway connecting it to Copenhagen.
Roskilde has the oldest operational railway station in Denmark, with connections across Zealand as well as with Falster, Lolland, and Jutland.
The cathedral and the Viking Ship Museum, which contains the well-preserved remains of five 11th-century ships, attract more than 100,000 visitors annually.
As a result of Absalon's influence, many other churches were built in the vicinity, making Roskilde the most important town in Zealand.
Coins were minted there from the 11th to the 14th century.
The Risø research facility is also becoming a major employer, extending interest in sustainable energy to the clean technology sphere.
The local university, founded in 1972, the historic Cathedral School, and the Danish Meat Trade College, established in 1964, are educational institutions of note.
With the development of the rail network in the 19th century, Roskilde became an important hub for traffic with Copenhagen, and by the end of the century, there were tobacco factories, iron foundries and machine shops.