Top Historic Sights in Odense, Denmark

Explore the historic highlights of Odense

Odense Cathedral

The present Odense Cathedral dates primarily from the 13th century, but it was built on the foundations of an earlier travertine church that was built in 1095. During the civil war between Eric IV and his brother, Abel, Odense and the cathedral were burned down in 1247. The present church was constructed in several phases to replace the aging and inadequate stone church in about 1300 by Bishop Gisico (1287–1300). The ne ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Odense, Denmark

St. Canute's Abbey

St. Canute's Benedictine Abbey (Skt Knuds Kloster) was built to support the pilgrimage centre for the relics of the royal Danish martyr Saint Canute (died 1086), and was the successor to the priory of St. Mary and St. Alban, Denmark's earliest monastic house. Located in Odense, it was the island of Funen's most important medieval religious institution. St. Canute's Abbey was founded in connection with the pilgrimage site ...
Founded: 1096 | Location: Odense, Denmark

St. Alban's Church

St. Alban"s Roman Catholic Church in Odense should not be confused with the medieval church of St. Alban"s Priory where King Canute IV was murdered in 1086, and which was later replaced with St. Canute"s Cathedral. Odense"s first Catholic congregation since the Protestant reformation was established in 1867, and consisted of 12 adults and 7 children. In the first few years services were hold in rented ...
Founded: 1906-1908 | Location: Odense, Denmark

Odense Castle

Towards the end of his reign, King Frederik IV of Denmark wished for the same degree of comfort in provincial castles as he enjoyed in Copenhagen. In 1720 a contract was signed for alterations to be made to Odensegård manor. The gardener of Rosenborg Palace, J.C.Krieger, was entrusted with the work. From his studies in England and the Netherlands, he had learnt about the Dutch Baroque style.A new main wing was added to t ...
Founded: 1721 | Location: Odense, Denmark

The Funen Village

The Funen Village (Den Fynske Landsby) is an open-air museum located in the neighborhood of Fruens Bøge in Odense. It was founded as a public works project in 1942, during the German occupation of Denmark. The museum"s open-air scene opened to the public already in 1944, and was used for patriotic song festivals (alsangsstævner) during the Occupation. It opened to the public on 1 April 1946. Among the guests att ...
Founded: 1942 | Location: Odense, Denmark

Nonnebakken

Nonnebakken (literally, "Nun Hill") is the site of one of Denmark's six former Viking ring castles, built during the reign of Sweyn Forkbeard, who had forced his father Harold Bluetooth to leave the country and seek refuge by the Jomsvikingson Wollin (modern Poland) around 975. The fort enabled its occupier command of the Odense River passing next to the hill. The name refers to the Benedictine Nunnery located on the site ...
Founded: 975 AD | Location: Odense, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).