Medieval churches in 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. 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 he ...
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

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

Ny Kirke

Ny Kirke (New Church) is a 12th century round church located in the village of Nyker. Built in the Romanesque style with two storeys, it contains frescoes from various periods and a pulpit with 17th century-panels. Ny Kirke is normally considered to be the youngest of the island's four round churches. It was originally called "Ecclesia Omnium Sanctorum" (All Saints Church). The present name dates from the middle of the 16 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Rønne, Denmark

Ringkøbing Church

Ringkøbing Church was built in the early 15th century, and its tower, which is wider on top than on the bottom, was erected ca. 1550. The church houses two organs: the oldest in the west pulpit was built by Demant & Son in 1861 with a baroque facade from 1633. The other from 1974 is by Frobenius & Sons. As the result of a restoration in 1995-1996, the church has a number of modern features, including an alt ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Ringkøbing, Denmark

Farum Church

farum church is a well-preserved brick church built in the 1100s. The nave was enlarged and tower added around 1400. The altarpiece dates from the 1600s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Farum, Denmark

Nykøbing Falster Abbey Church

The first historical reference of the Abbey Church in Nykøbing is to St. Nicholas Chapel where Eric of Pomerania founded a Greyfriars monastery in honour of Our Lady, St Michael and St Francis. The church must have been completed by 1482 when the annual Franciscan chapter meeting was held in Nykøbing to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of Francis of Assisi with representatives of Franciscan communities in th ...
Founded: 1482 | Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.

In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.

The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.

The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.