Medieval churches in Denmark

Keldby Church

The imposing red brick church in Keldby is one of the three Møn island churches decorated with frescos by the Elmelunde Master, probably towards the end of the 15th century. In the so-called Biblia pauperum style, they present many of the most popular stories from the Old and New Testaments. There are also a number of earlier frescoes in the church dating back to about 1275. The original nave and choir were constr ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stege, Denmark

Nysted Church

The present building of Nysted Church dates back to c. 1300. Originally it consisted of a central nave with a three sided apse to the east. The impressive tower was built a century later. In 1643 a spire was added, and in 1935 this was covered by copper. The Raben-Levtzau family of Aalholm Castle had their own chapel built in 1782. According a rumour there is a secret underground passage from the castle to the church. It ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Nysted, Denmark

Vallensbæk Church

Vallensbæk church was built between 1150 and 1200. The tower was added in the 16th century. The altar was destroyed by fire in 2007. The Romanesque style baptismal font dates from the beginning of the 13th century and is the oldest item in the church.  The church in Vallensbæk Village dates back to the 1100s, built in the years 1150-1200. It is a typical village church, which originally consisted of cows and ships i ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Vallensbæk, Denmark

Balling Church

Balling church was built of stone in Romanesque style around 1200. The tower was added in the late Middle Ages, but today only the lower part of it exists. The chapel and porch were added in 1500s. The current tower was erected in 1945. The altar table dates from 1580s and the painting from c. 1600. The pulpit was built around 1800.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Spøttrup, Denmark

Dronninglund Castle

Dronninglund Castle is a former royal residence located in the northern part of the Jutland Peninsula. Its history goes back to the 12th century, when it was the Benedictine monastery of Hundslund Priory. After the last nuns left it in 1581, it was first owned by the Lindenow family. In 1690, Queen Charlotte Amalie acquired it. It is from her that the palace takes the name Dronninglund, meaning 'queens forest'. ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Dronninglund, Denmark

Kippinge Church

Kippinge Church is known for its rich Renaissance furnishings and its frescos from the mid-14th century. By 1338, the villages of Vester- and Østerkippinge had grown up on either side of the parish church, which remained on an isolated site in the countryside. In the Middle Ages, the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Crown had calling rights for the appointment of cl ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Nørre Alslev, Denmark

Sulsted Church

Sulsted Church, located in Sulsted, a small Danish town in northern Jutland, just north of Aalborg, was constructed c. 1150-1200 and features a large number of frescos or kalkmalerier, all created in 1548 by Hans Maler from Randers. Unlike other frescos in Danish churches, Sulsted"s murals were not concealed with limewash after the Reformation and have survived to this day. The frescos, which decorate the ceiling of ...
Founded: 1150-1200 | Location: Sulsted, Denmark

Gunderup Church

The choir and nave of Gunderup Church were built in the 1100s, but the church was rebuilt and enlarged in 1445. The chapel was added around 1500. The altarpiece is a triptych from 1537-1538. The pulpit dates from 1800s. The Gothic frescoes from around 1500 were revealed in 1930s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gistrup, Denmark

Nexø Church

The actual building time of Nexø Church is unknown, but the construction was probably started around the year 1346. It represents the late Gothic style and is dedicated to St. Nicholas, the saint of seafarers. The church tower was added in the 16th century and the spire in 1910. The pulpit and gilded cruficix date from the 17th century.
Founded: ca. 1346 | Location: Nexø, Denmark

Gedesby Church

Gedesby church is built with a longhouse in the Gothic style with with pointed arch windows and a Gothic tower base, of brick in monk bond. Originally the church was crown land, that is royal property until 1767, when it along with the main church in Skelby was sold along with the rest of Falster equestrian goods. The altarpiece of the Dutch wing type from 1573 is pretty and well preserved with a figure rich crucifixion ...
Founded: c. 1350 | Location: Gedser, Denmark

Odden Church

Odden church dates from the 14th century and it was painted red in 1874. The crucifix in the belfry room is as old as the church. On the other side is a painting 'Christ in prayer in the garden of Getsemane' painted in Rome by a Ziegler a donated to the church in 1878. The pulpit is from 1821. The font contains of two parts. It is believed, that the one below is from the old chapel and was the holy water stoup. ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Sjællands Odde, 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

Braaby Church

The precise date of the Braaby Church"s construction is not known but it was first documented around 1370 when it consisted of the current Romanesque nave and a smaller chancel, both built of limestone blocks. In about 1500, the tower, porch and north chapel were added with decorations consisting of belts of brick and limestone. The present chancel was constructed in c. 1570. After Steward of the Realm Peder Oxe had ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Haslev, Denmark

St. James' Church

St. James" Church or Skt. Ibs Kirke is a travertine church from around 1100. In 1808 it was transformed into a field hospital for Spanish soldiers. In 1816 the church and the graveyard were sold to a local merchant and used as warehouse until 1884. The porch, tower and chancel were demolished, however, the church was restored in 1922. Today, only the aisle is left. The famous Danish painter L.A. Ring is burried in th ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Roskilde, Denmark

Præstø Church

The current Præstø Church was built in the mid-1400s to the site of earlier church. There was also a monastery from the end of 1200s to Reformation (1530s). Abbey buildings were demolished in 1563. The finest detail in the church is an altar donated by Laurits Nielsen in 1657.
Founded: c. 1450 | Location: Præstø, Denmark

Kalvehave Church

Kalvehave Church was built around 1225-1250 of large bricks near to a holy spring. The church is rebuilt and extended several times. The altarpiece was made in Renaissance style in the end of the 16th century. The Baroque pulpit dates from 1639.
Founded: 1225 | Location: Kalvehave, Denmark

Graeshave Church

Græshave Church was constructed in the Middle Ages of the large bricks known as 'monk stone'. It contains a chapel that was owned by the local noble family Porses. This was converted into a sacristy in 1637. The altarpiece is of the cathechetical variety associated with the post Reformation period.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dannemare, Denmark

Venø Church

Venø Church"s age is difficult to date but it was probably built around the time of the Reformation (1536), making it the oldest building on the island. According to tradition, it is the smallest church in Denmark measuring only 9.8 by 4.2 meters. The low ceiling and the limited seating capacity (only about 50 places) reinforce this impression. The church is built of fieldstone while brick has been used for th ...
Founded: c. 1536 | Location: Struer, Denmark

Skive Old Church

Vor Frue Kirke (Church of Our Lady) is the old church of Skive, built around 1200. It still have its original nave and choir. The church was enlarged around 1500. In the 1800s it became too small and new church was built next to it in 1898. The old church became however again a parish church in 1930. The murals in church walls date from 1522.
Founded: 1200 | Location: Skive, Denmark

Hasle Church

Hasle Church was built around 1460 and it was restored in 1758. The porch was added in in 1882. The late Gothic altarpiece was made in 1510s and the pulpit around 1600. There is also a Viking age runestone in the churchyard.
Founded: ca. 1460 | Location: Hasle, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.