Medieval castles in Denmark

Tårnborg Castle Ruins

Tårnborg Castle was a royal medieval castle. It consisted of a central tower of 8m x 8m, surrounded by a square outer wall. An excavation in the castle courtyard in 1894 also revealed the remains of three small houses. The castle stood from about 1231 up to the last part of the 14th century when a new castle in Korsør took over Tårnborg"s role. From written sources we know that the castle was captu ...
Founded: 1231 | Location: Korsør, Denmark

Lilleborg Castle Ruins

Lilleborg is a ruined castle in the Almindingen forest. The castle was probably built in the middle of the 12th century as a royal fortress. It appears to have replaced the much larger fortress of Gamleborg which was only 700 metres away. The move could be explained by the fact that in 1149, three-fourths of Bornholm had been surrendered to Eskil, archbishop of Lund. As a result, King Sweyn III wanted to establish his own ...
Founded: c. 1149 | Location: Aakirkeby, Denmark

Jungshoved Castle Ruins

The royal castle of Jungshoved was mentioned in 1231. The annexed church dates from the same period. The castle is thought to have been built as early as in the 1100s as part of King Valdemar I"s coastal defences against the Wends (Baltic Slavs). The castle is strategically located at the mouth of Skibbinge Cove. Jungshoved may also have been implicated in the monarch"s control of the herring market at Falsterbo ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Praesto, Denmark

Dronningholm Castle Ruins

Dronningholm Castle construction was started by Valdemar the Great (died in 1182) and completed around 1200 by Valdemar II of Denmark (Valdemar Victorious). It was a solid castle construction with moats and drawbridge. The castle was one of the largest in the country, but burned down in 1525. According to the legend queen Dagmar got the castle as a morning gift.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Frederiksværk, Denmark

Riberhus Castle Ruins

During excavations at Slotsbanken, proof was found that people had resided there in the 10th century. However, this may not have been in connection with a castle or other building, but historical sources indicate that a castle was situated here in the early 1200s. It was a royal castle with a bailiff, who looked after the King’s interests in the area, collecting taxes from the townsfolk. The bailiff, later called a ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ribe, Denmark

Ravnsborg Castle Ruins

Ravnsborg Castle was built in around 1330 by John III, Count of Holstein-Plön. In 1347 the castle was conquered by Valdemar IV. It was demolished in 1510. The 100m long and 50m wide castle was originally on an island and fortified with brick walls.
Founded: 1330 | Location: Torrig, Denmark

Bjørnkaer Castle Ruins

Bjørnkær is a 14th century castle mound consisting of two square castle embankments surrounded by a moat and an outer embankment. During excavations in the 1930s, the foundations of a small building were found on the eastern castle embankment. Inside, the building measures about 4.5 m x 6.5 m, and the remains of the entrance door can be seen in the west wall. The other walls have traces of windows. The remain ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Odder, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.