Medieval churches in Denmark

Ejby Church

The Romanesque nave of Ejby Church dates from c. 1150–1200. It was extended to the east in the Gothic period, and tower, vestry and porch wered added around 1500. The baptismal font dates from c. 1300. It was created in Gothland limestone and decorated with engraved figures of apostles and saints. The canopy type altarpiece was painted in 1596 with catechism tablets.The pulpit in auricular style dates from 1625.
Founded: 1150–1200 | Location: Lille Skensved, Sweden

Sakskøbing Church

Sakskøbing Church was built in the late 1200s and during following centuries the original church was extended with a nave and tower. The present 48m high tower was built in 1852. The altarpiece from the 1500s is a late Gothic wood carving from Lübeck. The pulpit dates from about 1620.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sakskøbing, Denmark

Gjellerup Church

Gjellerup Church, built in the 12th century, is unique for its Latin inscription in the tympanon above former door facing to the south. The inscription, carved in 1140, makes Gjellerup Church the oldest dated building in Denmark. The church is consecrated to the Roman martyr St. Laurentius. There are traces of a Romanesque tower, and the sheer size of the church is remarkable. The oldest parts are the chancel and nave. Th ...
Founded: c. 1140 | Location: Herning, Denmark

Torup Church

Torup Church dates from the 12th century and it was restored in 1746 and 1839. The church has, among other things, a granite Romanesque baptismal font, frescoes from about 1250, a crucifix from about 1300 and the nave from 1750.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hundested, 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

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

Tingsted Church

Tingsted Church, located on high ground in the village of Tingsted, dates from c. 1200. Built in the Romanesque style, it is best known for its frescos from the end of the 15th century. At an early stage, the pink-plastered church was dedicated to St Peter. As the name Tingsted implies, the place was originally associated with early lawmaking in the area. In 1329, King Christopher II concluded an agreement with Marsk Ludv ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark

Vesterø Søndre Church

Vesterø Søndre Church was built around 1250 by monks of Vitskøl monastery. The tiptych dates from around 1475. The arches are decorated with beautifully with murals depicting the Three Wise Men (made around 1510 by Sæby Workshop).
Founded: 1250 | Location: Læsø, 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 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Næstved, 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 cent ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Faaborg, Denmark

Stubbekøbing Church

Stubbekøbing Church was built of limestone in the Late Romanesque period (c. 1200), with brick trimmings. In addition to its Renaissance altarpiece and pulpit, it has a variety of old frescos and wall decorations (1300–1500). The church was originally dedicated to St. Anne, for whom there is also a chapel, possibly created by the lords of Halskovgaard in the parish of Horbelev as they were remembered in the p ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Stubbekøbing, Denmark

Budolfi Cathedral

In the crypt of Budolfi Cathedral visitors can see the remains of the large stones used for the original church that was built at the direction of Bishop Eskil of Viborg no later than 1132. The first church was much smaller than the current church since it was a parish church. It consisted of a short nave and choir built in Romanesque style. That means it had half-round arches supporting a flat timber ceiling. The existi ...
Founded: c. 1380-1400 | Location: Aalborg, Denmark

Højby Church

Højby Church dates back to the beginning of the 12th century and it is constructed in granite. Several modifications have taken place since the original construction including a porch in the 13th century, Gothic cross-vaulting in the nave and chancel in the 14th century, a tower around the year 1400 as well as a vestry, a chapel and a new entrance porch towards the end of the Middle Ages. The church is recognised for it ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Højby, Denmark

Toreby Church

Toreby Church was built around 1200 and it is an unusually large red-brick Romanesque building, the nave and chancel having been extended in the Gothic period with a sacristy and lateral aisle. The tower was constructed in late Gothic times, shortly after the church was built. The sacristy to the north of the chancel was built at the beginning of the 14th century. The aisles were added in the Gothic period, first the one ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Toreby, 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

Store Heddinge Church

Store Heddinge Church was built circa 1200 at the same time when the town was established. It is dedicated to St. Catherine (Sankt Katharina).
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Store Heddinge, Denmark

Nørre Alslev Church

Nørre Alslev Church dates from at least 1308, a date found on its early frescos. Built in the Early Gothic style and painted pink according to local tradition, it is best known for its fresco of the death dance. In the Middle Ages, the church was dedicated to St Nicholas. The Early Gothic chancel and nave are built of brick on a 60 cm high sloping foundation. The chancel, with a three-sided end, has a stepped friez ...
Founded: c. 1308 | Location: Nørre Alslev, Denmark

Esrum Abbey

Esrum Abbey, also Esrom Abbey was the second Cistercian monastery founded in Denmark. It began as a Benedictine foundation, perhaps in about 1140, and was built near a pre-Christian religious site, later called Esrum Spring, where a small wooden stave chapel may have existed before the abbey was established. The foundation was taken over by the Cistercians in 1151 on the authority of Archbishop Eskil of Lund, and was coun ...
Founded: c. 1140 | Location: Graested, 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

St. Knud's Church

St. Knud’s is a traditional old village church, situated some distance to the east of Rønne town centre. It was built around the year 1150. It is the smallest church on Bornholm. The little church’s interior is of slightly more recent provenance - the altar dating from the 17th century and the interior decoration from the 18th.
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Rønne, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.

Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians as a defensible outpost that was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish peoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces, these included the walls or Cerca Moura ("Moorish Encirclement").

Kingdom

In the context of the Christian Reconquista, the castle and the city of Lisbon were freed from Moorish rule in 1147 by Afonso Henriques and northern European knights in the Siege of Lisbon during the Second Crusade; this victory was the only notable success of that failed crusade. According to an oft-repeated legend, the knight Martim Moniz, noticing that one of the doors to the castle was open, prevented the Moors from closing it by throwing his own body into the breach, thus allowing Christian soldiers to enter at the cost of his own life. With the taking of the castle Christian forces were able to maintain the defense of Lisbon until the end of the 12th century.

When Lisbon became the capital of the kingdom in 1255, the castle served as the alcáçova, a fortified residence for Afonso III, in his role as governor. It was extensively renovated around 1300 by King Denis I, transforming the Moorish alcáçova into the Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Between 1373 and 1375, King Ferdinand I ordered the building of the Cerca Nova or Cerca Fernandina, the walled compound that enclosed the entirety of the castle. The master builders João Fernandes and Vasco Brás were responsible for its construction. This wall, which partially replaced the old Moorish walls, was designed to encircle previously unprotected parts of the city. Completed in two years, it had 77 towers and a perimeter of 5,400 metres.

The castle and the city resisted the forces of Castile several times during the 14th century (notably in 1373 and in 1383–1384). It was during this period (the late 14th century) that the castle was dedicated to Saint George by King John I, who had married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster. Saint George, the warrior-saint, was normally represented slaying a dragon, and very was popular in both countries.

From this point onward many of the kingdom's records were housed in the Torre de Ulisses, also known as the Torre Albarrã, until the reign of Manuel I. The Portuguese National Archive is still referred to as the Torre do Tombo. Between 1448 and 1451, the master builder was paid several stipends for his work on the palace. These public works continued until 1452, with additional payments being made for labor and materials to convert the building from a fortified castle to a royal residence.

Around the early 16th century, following the construction of the Ribeira Palace beside the Tagus river, the Palace of Alcáçova began to lose its importance. An earthquake occurring in 1531 further damaged the old castle, contributing further to its decay and neglect. In 1569, King Sebastian ordered the rebuilding of the royal apartments in the castle, intending to use it as his official residence. As part of the rebuilding, in 1577 Filippo Terzi demolished one of the towers near the principal facade of the Church of Loreto. However, many of the works were never completed after the young king's apparent death during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir. The following Portuguese dynastic crisis opened the way for sixty years of Spanish rule and the castle was converted into military barracks and a prison. On 30 December 1642, Teodósio de Frias the Younger was appointed master builder to continue the works begun by his father, Luís de Frias, and his grandfather, Teodósio de Frias. This was part of a greater plan by the Spanish forces to recommission the fortification.

However, after Portugal regained its independence following the Portuguese Restoration War, the works were taken over by the Portuguese government. On 6 November 1648, Nicolau de Langres was called upon to take over the design, execution and construction of a new fortification that would surround the Castle of São Jorge and the city walls of Lisbon. In 1650 the military architect Mateus do Couto was named master builder of the project and reconstruction took on a new formality: although the military engineer João Gillot built new walls in 1652, construction again followed Couto's plans between 1657 and 1733. In 1673, the Soldiers' Hospital, dedicated to São João de Deus, was installed on the grounds beside the Rua do Recolhimento. At the end of the 17th century the Recolhimento do Castelo was constructed along the southeast angle of the courtyard, and in 1733, new projects were initiated by master Custódio Vieira.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its continuing decay: apart from the walls of the old castle, the soldier's hospital and the Recolhimento were left in ruins. The necessity of maintaining a supporting military force within the capital city required expansion of the site's role of garrison and presidio. From 1780 to 1807, the charitable institution Casa Pia, dedicated to the education of poor children, was established in the citadel, while soldiers continued to be garrisoned on site. Inspired by the events of the earthquake and the following tsunami, the first geodetic observatory in Portugal was constructed in 1788 at the top of one of the towers of the castle, later referred to as the Torre do Observatório.

Republic

As part of the commemorative celebrations marking the foundation of nationhood and restoration of independence, the government of António de Oliveira Salazar initiated extensive renovations at the site. Most of the incongruous structures added to the castle compound in previous centuries were demolished and there was a partial restoration of the Recolhimento. In addition, on 25 October 1947, a monument dedicated to Afonso Henriques, presented by the city of Porto, of a replica created by Soares dos Reis (in 1887) was installed on the grounds.