Medieval churches in Denmark

Nyborg Church

Nyborg church or Church of Our Lady was built between 1388–1428 and was dedicated to Jesus" mother, Mary, on the opening during Pentecost 1428. The crucifix is the only piece of inventory in the church, which is preserved from the original layout at the inauguration in 1428. The Gothic crucifix is decorated with small leaves, symbolizing the crucifix as a tree of life.
Founded: 1388-1428 | Location: Nyborg, Denmark

Olsker Church

Sankt Ols Kirke (St Olaf's Church), also known as Olsker Church, is a 12th century round church located in the village of Olsker. Built in the Romanesque style and reaching three storeys high, it has from the beginning consisted of a round nave, a choir and an apse. The church was named after the revered King Olaf II of Norway who fell at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030. The church first belonged to the Archbishopric of ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Allinge, Denmark

Nylars Church

Nylars Church (Nylars Kirke) is a round church built around 1165. The church was dedicated to St Nicholas. Originally designed for a defensive role, the solid structure contains a series of 13th century frescoes, the oldest of Bornholm's four round churches. The three storeys are built of fieldstone and with window and door frames of limestone. The original defensive systems are largely intact. The decorated south door i ...
Founded: ca. 1165 | Location: Aakirkeby, 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

Veng Abbey Church

Veng Abbey was one of Denmark's earliest Benedictine monasteries, established in the late 1060s, with connections to the royal forebears of King Valdemar I. By the 1160s the abbey had fallen into a severe decline: the original endowments failed to sustain it, and it had gained a reputation for being 'unruly'. Eventually Abbot Jens was brought before a church tribunal and forced to give up his office on the grounds of immo ...
Founded: 1060s | Location: Skanderborg, Denmark

Jungshoved Church

Jungshoved Church is a Danish romanesque church situated nearby the banks of Stavreby cove, on the place where Jungshoved castle lay in former times. The oldest part of the church is built in the years 1225-1250 in late romanesque style, while the last part of the church is built in the 1500 century in late gothic style. The baptismal font and altarpiece are decorated with reliefs by Bertel Thorvaldsen. The pulpit in Hig ...
Founded: 1225-1250 | Location: Praesto, Denmark

Vestervig Abbey Church

Vestervig Abbey was established in about 1059 making it one of Denmark"s most ancient religious houses. About 1030 Saint Thøger settled at Vestervig and built the first wattle and clay church in Thy. Thøger was a Thuringian missionary who had been living in England when Olaf II went there on a Viking expedition. Thøger"s wonderful sermons brought an invitation to return to Norway with Olav a ...
Founded: 1059 | Location: Vestervig, Denmark

Nakskov Church

Nakskov Church is the largest church in Nakskov on the east coast of the Danish island of Lolland. As Nakskov was mentioned in Valdemar"s Census Book in the 13th century, the church probably dates to the same period. Remains of a wooden church from c. 1000 were unearthed in the 1950s. It was replaced by a brick church dedicated to Saint Nicholas which is first mentioned in 1398 although its oldest sections probably d ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Nakskov, Denmark

Herlufsholm Church

Herlufsholm Church is Denmark's broadest single nave church and was the monastery church for the Woodland Monastery of the Benedictine Order. The church dates back to 1135. When Herluf Trolle and his wife Birgitte Goeye acquired the monastery in 1560, the church was renamed Herlufsholm and it became the area's parish church. In the chapel under the choir, Herluf Trolle and Birgitte Goeye lay buried. They are also remember ...
Founded: 1135 | Location: Næstved, Denmark

Brønshøj Church

Brønshøj Church was built in the 1180s by Bishop Absalon, who is regarded as the founder of Copenhagen. This makes the Church the oldest intact building in Copenhagen. Originally dedicated to Saint Lawrence, Brønshøj Church is first mentioned in two papal briefs of 21 October 1186 and 25 March 1193. Limestone from Stevns Klint was used to build the Romanesque-style nave and choir. The red-brick ...
Founded: 1180s | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

St. Clemens Church

Rømø church was built around 1200 but extended in the 17th and 18th centuries when the island prospered due to whaling. The church is consecrated to the patron saint of sailors, St. Clemens and many ship models, donated by seamen, are hanging in the church. During the last century, rights to have one"s name on a church pew were sold, the proceeds being used for church expenses, and many of these can be ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Rømø, Denmark

Church of Our Lady

The Church of Our Lady with its five distinctive towers is the most imposing landmark of Kalundborg. The church is built of red brick, indicating that it was constructed no earlier than 1170 when brick was first used in Denmark. Coincidentally, this is also the date of nearby Esbern Snare"s castle, the site"s first fortification. The architectural design, however, would indicate a rather later date, possibly in ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kalundborg, Denmark

Bregninge Church

Bregninge Church was originally a Romanesque church from the 1200s with monumental Gothic arches built in the late 1400s. The impressive steeple of the tower (characteristic of eastern Slesvig) is covered with oak shingles. The frescoes from c. 1510 were uncovered 1915-22 and most recently restored in 1956. Outstanding triptych dates from the early 1500s. It was created by the famous master Claus Berg. The roof dates from ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ærøskøbing, 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

Fanefjord Church

Fanefjord Church is one of the Danish island of Møn"s most famous attractions. The site itself is of considerable historic interest. A few hundred meters to the south of the church there is a particularly long barrow, Grønsalen, the supposed burial ground of Queen Fane and her husband Grøn Jæger who, according to a local folklore, lived some 4,000 years ago. The church"s original 7 m ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Askeby, Denmark

Børglum Abbey

Børglum Abbey was originally a royal farm which dated back as far as 1000, if not earlier. In 1086 King Canute IV fled from his residence at Børglum when the peasants revolted against him. The royal residence was burned to the ground but rebuilt sometime later. At some point between 1134 and 1139, the royal estate at Børglum was granted to the church to become the new seat of the bishopric of norther ...
Founded: c. 1134 | Location: Vrå, 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

Eskilsø Abbey Ruins

The Augustinian monastery was built in the around the year 1100 and moved to Æbelholt in north Zealand around 1175. The small abbey was 28m long building with a nave, apse, chancel and porch.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Skibby, 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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.