Top Historic Sights in Roskilde, Denmark

Explore the historic highlights of Roskilde

Roskilde Cathedral

Roskilde Cathedral is the earliest major ecclesiastical building in brick in northern Europe and had a profound influence on the spread of brick for this purpose over the whole region. Both in its form and in its setting it is an outstanding example of a north European cathedral complex, especially noteworthy for the successive architectural styles used in the ancillary chapels and porches added during the centuries durin ...
Founded: c. 1170 | Location: Roskilde, Denmark

Roskilde Palace

Roskilde Mansion replaced a bishop"s palace which had stood at the site since the Middle Ages. Commissioned by King Christian VI, the new building was constructed to provide a residence for the royal family when they passed through the city or attended royal funerals and other ceremonies in Roskilde Cathedral. Lauritz de Thurah who had recently been engaged as royal master builder, was charged with its design in 1733 ...
Founded: 1733-1736 | Location: Roskilde, Denmark

St. Lawrence's Church Ruins

St. Lawrence"s Church was built around 1125 AD of travertine. During the reformation in 1536 the church was demolished. Only the tower was left, and is today the tower of the city hall. The ruins are preserved 2 metres under the square Stændertorvet. They reveal the beautiful restored red and black clay tile floor and mediaeval fixtures of the church as well as archaelogical finds from the excavations.The ruins ...
Founded: c. 1125 | Location: Roskilde, Denmark

St. Jørgensbjerg Church

St. Jørgensbjerg church is the oldest preserved stone building in Denmark. Built of travertine circa 1100, it may have been inspired by the Roskilde's cathedral predecessor, a travertine church from 1080, built by Bishop Svend Nordmand. The bricked-up north door of the church may also stem from its predecessor from circa 1040, which was investigated in excavations undertaken in 1953-54. If it does, the north door i ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Roskilde, Denmark

Kirkerup Church

Kirkerup Church is one of the oldest churches in the diocese of Roskilde. It dates back to the 12th century and is well worth a visit due many beautiful Romanesque and Gothic frescos.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Roskilde, Denmark

Roskilde Abbey

Roskilde Abbey or Our Lady"s Abbey was a monastery of nuns dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. It was founded in the early 12th century for Benedictine nuns, but in 1177 became part of the Cistercian reform movement. It was chiefly known for the tomb of Saint Margrethe or Margaret of Ølsemagle or of Højelse (both names of places near Køge), who, although murdered by her husband, had been wrongly ...
Founded: 1176 | Location: Roskilde, Denmark

St. James' Church

St. James" Church or Skt. Ibs Kirke is a travertine church from around 1100. In 1808 it was transformed into a field hospital for Spanish soldiers. In 1816 the church and the graveyard were sold to a local merchant and used as warehouse until 1884. The porch, tower and chancel were demolished, however, the church was restored in 1922. Today, only the aisle is left. The famous Danish painter L.A. Ring is burried in th ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Roskilde, Denmark

Himmelev Church

Himmelev Church dates probably from the late 1100s and it was built in Romanesque style. The tower and arches were added around 1300 as well as Gothic style windows. The tower was rebuilt of brick around 1550. The oldest item in church is a crucifix from the 1300s. The font dates from 1625 and pulpit from 1630. The altar was made by Anders Nielsen Hatts workshop in Roskilde in the early 1600s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Roskilde, Denmark

Gundsømagle Church

Gundsømagle Church was completed around the year 1100. The pulpit is from about 1610. The vicar"s stull was made by Caspar Lubbeke in 1657. The frescoes in the chancel arches date from the 12th century.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Roskilde, 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).