Medieval churches in Denmark

St. Bendt's Church

St. Bendt's Church was originally part of a Benedictine monastery that burnt down in the 18th century. Built in the Romanesque style, it is the oldest brick church in Scandinavia, dating back to about 1170 when it replaced a travertine church from about 1080. It is considered to be one of Denmark's architecturally finest churches. Furthermore, it is of special historical interest as it is first Royal church in Denmark and ...
Founded: 1170 | Location: Ringsted, Denmark

Svaneke Church

Svaneke Church stands above the harbour at a height of 18 metres on the site of a small chapel which appears to have existed for quite some time before the town received its charter in the 16th century. The church was expanded over the years, the tower and spire being completed in 1789. In 1881, virtually the whole building was rebuilt by architect Mathias Bidstrup of Rønne, leaving only the tower and a small secti ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Rønne, Denmark

Maribo Cathedral

Maribo Abbey, established in 1416, was the first Bridgettine monastery in Denmark and became one of the most important Danish abbeys of the late Middle Ages. The monastery is in ruins, but the abbey church still remains in use as Maribo Cathedral. Originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Bridget of Vadstena, the church was built in the early 15th century. It was Queen Margrethe I who provided land for a monaster ...
Founded: 1416 | Location: Maribo, Denmark

Dominican Priory Church

The Dominican Priory (Sortebrødrekloster) was an important Dominican monastery in Viborg during the Middle Ages. Viborg Priory was established around 1227 by Bishop Gunnar of Viborg. It is first mentioned in the church annals in 1246 when donations to the priory are listed. The priory church was completed towards the end of the 13th century in red brick in the Gothic style and consisted of a choir, sacristy, and ce ...
Founded: 1227 | Location: Viborg, Denmark

Sorø Abbey

Sorø Abbey was the preeminent and wealthiest monastic house in all of Denmark during the Middle Ages. It was founded by Asser Rig, the son of Skjalm Hvide, Zealand"s most powerful noble in 1142. Asser established a Benedictine House just a few years prior to his death in 1151. He then lived as a monk for the last years of his life. It was common practice for wealthy and powerful individuals and families to fou ...
Founded: 1142 | Location: Sorø, Denmark

Eskilstrup Church

Eskilstrup Church built in the Romanesque style dates from the 12th century. It is best known for its frescos, said to be Denmark's oldest. At the beginning of the 16th century, the church was owned by the bishopric under the administration of its seat at Sørup on Lolland. In 1694, it was annexed to Ønslev Church, 3 km to the west. After the Reformation it came under the Crown until 1767 when it was sold int ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Eskilstrup, Denmark

Løgum Abbey Church

Løgum Abbey was founded in 1173 by Bishop Stefan of Ribe who had previously been at Herrevad Abbey in Skåne, the first Cistercian foundation in Denmark. Løgum was in a sense a daughter house to Herrevad. The abbey was called 'Locus Dei' in Latin, meaning 'God"s place' and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The new wooden monastery was destroyed by a fire in 1190. Bishop Omer of Rib ...
Founded: 1173 | Location: Løgumkloster, Denmark

St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas church was built probably between 1250-1300. It was dedicated to St. Nicholas about 1360. In the Middle Ages it was likely surrounded by a rampart outside of the town ramparts. The extremely ornamental altarpiece dates from 1642 and restored in 1989. The early Renaissance pulpit dates from 1565.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Aabenraa, Denmark

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church is first mentioned in a monasterial letter from 1135. Built of red brick, it is one of Denmark's largest and finest Gothic buildings, scarcely altered since 1375. The chancel, with its five tall windows, is particularly impressive. The current Gothic church replaces an older Romanesque cross-shaped building built of limestone and brick from the second half of the 12th century. This in turn was built on ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Næstved, Denmark

St. Morten’s Church

St. Morten's church is the only of the five Middle Age churches in Randers that remain today. It was built around 1494-1520 as a replacement for the earlier Middle Age church by the same name. It is dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. The church was handed over to Helligåndsbrødrenes Kloster (the Monastery of the Brothers of the Holy Spirit) whose abbot Jens Mathiasen was builder of the existing church. It made up a wing ...
Founded: 1494-1520 | Location: Randers, Denmark

Horne Church

Horne Church is the only round church on Funen. Originally constructed from granite stonework, it was modified in the 15th century with the addition of Gothic extensions on the east and west. The history of Horne Church is inextricably tied to Hvedholm Manor, located about 2 kilometres to the south and to the noble family Brahe associated with that estate. Several of the church's content items date from the 17th century a ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Faaborg, Denmark

Church of Our Lady

The Church of Our Lady in Assens is the second largest church on the island of Funen. The main chapel on the north side of the church and the lower, square part of the tower are remains of a Romanesque church. In 1488 the church stood in its present form. The Catholic past of the building is heralded in a monstrance, now located to the right of the altar, and a stoup in what was then the porch. After the Reformation, it ...
Founded: 1488 | Location: Assens, Denmark

Elmelunde Church

Elmelunde Church is famous for its frescos. It stands high above the surroundings and the impressive whitewashed building can be seen from miles around and has been used as a landmark by sailors in the Baltic Sea. Elmelunde is the oldest church on the island of Møn, apparently constructed on a site where a wooden church once stood. The flat mound, to the north of the church, is even older. It is believed to be a heathen ...
Founded: 1085 | Location: Stege, 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

Vitskøl Abbey

Vitskøl Abbey (Vitskøl Kloster, Vitae Schola, meaning 'school of life') is a former Cistercian monastery and one of the oldest existing monastic complexes in northern Europe. Vitskøl Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks under Abbot Henrik while in exile from Varnhem Abbey in Sweden during a conflict with Queen Christina Björnsdotter of Sweden. The monks from Varnhem were later replaced ...
Founded: 1158 | Location: Ranum, Denmark

Broager Church

The original construction of Broager Church dates from about 1209. The chapel and vestry are Gothic-style and the whole church is built of bricks. The churchyard has the tallest wooden bell tower in Denmark, which dates back to 1650. The church itself is decorated with murals from various periods. Restoration of the church in 1924-27 revealed frescoes from different periods; Romanesque from the beginning of the 13th cent ...
Founded: 1209 | Location: Broager, Denmark

Hedensted Church

Hedensted Church was built around 1175. It is especially noted for its early Romanesque murals showing Christ, St. Peter, and St. Paul.
Founded: c. 1175 | Location: Hedensted, Denmark

Haderslev Cathedral

Work on building Haderslev Cathedral began in the mid-13th century. It was originally a large cross-shaped single-naved church built of bricks and granite cubes recycled from an older church. Only the original transept is still standing. The church nave was soon expanded to include three tall naves under one roof. This type of church is called a hall church. The present three-naved choir from 1400 is one of the most beaut ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Haderslev, Denmark

Aa Church

Aa Church (Aa kirke) is a Romanesque church dating from the 12th century. Aa Church, which literally means "stream church", owes its name to the two streams which run beside it. Dedicated to John the Baptist, it was first known as Sankt Hans kirke (St John's Church). A gilded figure of St John stood in the church until 1706 but was buried in the churchyard by the priest as it was attracting undue attention from Catholic p ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Aakirkeby, Denmark

St Martin's Church

St Martin"s Church (Sankt Mortens Kirke) is one of the city"s medieval churches. Known from records since approximately 1280, it is believed to have been built and put into service around 1200. The building was constructed as the city"s parish church. It is dedicated to St Martin of Tours considered its patron saint. The church is a Gothic structure built with bricks. The oldest parts of the church are fro ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Næstved, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.