Medieval churches in 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

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

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

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

Bogø Church

Bogø Church was originally built in the first part of the 13th century, but it was rebuilt in Gothic style in the mid-1500s. Today some medieval frescoes have survived.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bogø, 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

Carmelite Priory

The Carmelite Priory (Vor Frue Kloster) was a house of Carmelite friars in Helsingør. It is the finest example of a complete monastic complex surviving in Denmark, and one of the best in all of Scandinavia. The priory was established in 1430 for a group of Carmelite friars from Landskrona. It was one of three religious houses founded in Helsingør by King Erik VII as it grew from a small fishing village to a ...
Founded: 1430 | Location: Helsingør, 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 ...
Founded: 1494-1520 | Location: Randers, 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

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

Magleby Church

Magleby Church was originally built in the Romanesque style in the second half of the 13th century. The rounded tops of bricked-in windows from this period can still be seen on either side of the nave. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the church was converted to the Gothic style with cross vaults, Gothic windows and a number of additions and extensions. The tower which dates back to the older parts of the church originally ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Borre, Denmark

Kettinge Church

Kettinge Church was built between 1200 and 1250 and enlarged strongly in the early 1300s. Vaults were also added then and decorated by so-called Elmelunde Master or his students. The font is the oldest item in the church. Also one bell (1401) and crucifix date from the Catholic Age. The altar and pulpit were carved in 1612.
Founded: 1200-1250 | Location: Kettinge, Denmark

Fejø Church

Fejø Church oldest part was constructed in 1240, while the chancel, nave and church porch were added over the subsequent decades. In the Middle Ages the church was dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors. The church is situated right down by the water and originally served as a church for the surrounding islands, from where the congregation came to church by boat. The church has a tiled pyramidical r ...
Founded: 1240 | Location: Fejø, 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

Holeby Church

Holeby Church was built in the mid-1200s. Its Romanesque architecture is more simple than in other churches in Lolland island. The most notable inventory is a so-called Holeby Crucifix from the 1300s, which is today located at Maribo Museum. The unusually big baptismal font was made in Gotland. The pulpit dates from 1586 and altar from 1590. It is also known that the preceding altar depicted St. John Chrysostom and the ch ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Holeby, Denmark

Ruth's Church

Ruth's Church (Ruts Kirke) was built in the early 13th century in the Romanesque style. Situated on a hilltop 130 m above sea level, it is the island's highest-standing church. The oldest reference to the church dates from 1490 where Sancti Michelssogen (St Michael's Parish) is mentioned. The church was initially consecrated as St Michael's, possibly because of its high location. By 1621, the name had become Ruth's Church ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hasle, Denmark

Landet Church

Landet Church was built in the 12th century. It is the one of few Lolland churches made of Granite. The tower, porch and sacristy were aded later. The impressive tower was also used as a lighthouse. The altar dates from 1582 and pulpit from 1610.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Søllested, Denmark

Horslunde Church

Horslunde Church was built in the 12th century and dedicated to St. Hans. Through the years it has undergone several large alterations. The altarpiece and the pulpit date from 1594. Former Danish prime minister, Christian Ditlev Frederik Reventlow is buried at the site.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Horslunde, Denmark

Købelev Church

Købelev Church was built around 1300 and restored in 1883 and 1970. The chancel gable wall is a beautiful architectural work. The churchs organ is one of the few Gudme company Organs, which are still existing. The altarpiece is a work by the famous church painter Eckersburg from 1841. The interior of the church contains a pew with the name of a smallholder Otto Kulds, engraved upon it. This is dated 1646.
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Nakskov, Denmark

St. Nicholas' Church

The church of St. Nicholas was originally built after the establishment of Køge town, but there are only few remains of this church. The nave and tower of the current church were constructed between 1250-1300. It was enlarged and the tower raised higher during next centuries.
Founded: 1250-1300 | Location: Køge, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Ananuri Castle

Ananuri was a castle and seat of the eristavis (Dukes) of Aragvi, a feudal dynasty which ruled the area from the 13th century. The castle was the scene of numerous battles. The current ensemble dates from the 16th and 17th centuries.

In 1739, Ananuri was attacked by forces from a rival duchy, commanded by Shanshe of Ksani and was set on fire. The Aragvi clan was massacred. However, four years later, the local peasants revolted against rule by the Shamshe, killing the usurpers and inviting King Teimuraz II to rule directly over them. However, in 1746, King Teimuraz was forced to suppress another peasant uprising, with the help of King Erekle II of Kakheti. The fortress remained in use until the beginning of the 19th century. In 2007, the complex has been on the tentative list for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage Site program.

Architecture

The fortifications consist of two castles joined by a crenellated curtain wall. The upper fortification with a large square tower, known as Sheupovari, is well preserved and is the location of the last defense of the Aragvi against the Shamshe. The lower fortification, with a round tower, is mostly in ruins.

Within the complex, amongst other buildings, are two churches. The older Church of the Virgin, which abuts a tall square tower, has the graves of some of the Dukes of Aragvi. It dates from the first half of the 17th century, and was built of brick. The interior is no longer decorated, but of interest is a stone baldaquin erected by the widow of the Duke Edishera, who died in 1674.

The larger Church of the Mother of God (Ghvtismshobeli), built in 1689 for the son of Duke Bardzem. It is a central dome style structure with richly decorated façades, including a carved north entrance and a carved grapevine crosson the south façade. It also contains the remains of a number of frescoes, most of which were destroyed by the fire in the 18th century.