Medieval churches in 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

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

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church (Sankt Peders Kirke) is a well-preserved sample of Romanesque building style. The oldest parts nave and apsis were built around the year 1100. The church has been enlarged and modified in the 17th and 19th centuries. The bells were made in 1574 and 1701. The font is original and made in Gotland. The interior date mainly from the 19th century.
Founded: ca. 1100 | Location: Aakirkeby, Denmark

Jyllinge Old Church

The old church of Jyllinge was built around 1100 and it belonged to Eskilsø Abbey. There is a war memorial and paving stones in the church yard.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Jyllinge, Denmark

Birket Church

Built around 1350, Birket church is rather younger than many country churches in the area which are typically from the 12th and 13th centuries. Until 1687, it had its own parish priest but it was then annexed to Vesterborg until 1914. After the Reformation it came under the ownership of the Crown but in 1686 was transferred to Pedr Brandt til Pederstrup. The church became independent in 1914. The church, built of brick o ...
Founded: 1350 | Location: Torrig, Denmark

Byrum Church

Byrum Church is the largest in Læsø island. It was built in 1269 by monks of Vitskøl monastery. The Romanesque architecture was later transformed to the Gothic style. The interesting detail is a triptych made around 1450.
Founded: 1269 | Location: Læsø, Denmark

Halsted Church

Halsted Church dates from the second half of the 12th century, the church has a Romanesque chancel and nave, a large burial chapel from 1636 and a tower from 1877. The church was closely associated with Halsted Priory, which has not survived. The granite church is first mentioned in 1177. It is therefore older than Halsted Kloster, the Benedictine priory with which it was associated from the 13th century until 1536. The ...
Founded: ca. 1100 | Location: Nakskov, Denmark

Engestofte Church

Engestofte Church was built around the year 1100. The whitewashed Gothic church was restored in 1856-57. Pews, organ case and pulpit in modern Gothic style are painted to look like oak, and the pulpit, decorated by Willie the carver - Copenhagen, furthermore with gilt. The altarpiece is a late Gothic cabinet with double side panels, certainly a work from Lübeck from about 1510. It is considered to be among the most b ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Maribo, Denmark

Kappel Church

Kappel Church was constructed as a chapel around 1464. It was as a pilgrimage site believed to have healing properties. After the Reformation there were orders to pull down the building, possibly owing to Catholic connections. This never occured and it became a parish church. The pulpit was introduced in the 17th century. The altarpiece is an 1860 painting by Jørgen Roed.
Founded: c. 1464 | Location: Nakskov, Denmark

Tystrup Church

Tystrup Church was built in the first half of 12th century and first mentioned in 1370. The nave and choir were built in Romanesque style. The Gothic tower, porch and sacristy were added later. The vaults date from around 1450. The interior is decorated with mural paintings made around 1450-1475. The Baroque pulpit dates from 1635-1640 and organs from 1860.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Fuglebjerg, Denmark

St. Bodil's Church

St Bodil's Church (Sankt Bodil Kirke) was built around 1200. It was dedicated to the English saint Botulf but by 1530 it had mistakenly become known by the woman's name "Bodil" although there has never been a Saint Bodil. As a result, the parish is called Bodilsker. The church first belonged to the Archbishopric of Lund, then came under the Danish crown at the time of the Reformation. In the 19th century, it became fully ...
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Neksø, Denmark

Selsø Church

Selsø Church was originally a small round church built in c. 1150. The two bells were probably casted in 1300 and 1467. The church has some wonderful mural paintings.
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Skibby, Denmark

Aggersborg Church

The Vikings had a stronghold at Aggersborg surrounded by an enormous rampart. Towering to the north of the rampart there is a church of Aggersborg, probably erected during the 12th century. An interesting illuminated inscription of runes can be seen on the walls of the nave and the northern chancel wall. The altarpiece dates back to 1598, but it wasn"t placed in Aggersborg until 1934. The previous altarpiece can be s ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Logstor, 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

Kastrup Church

Kastrup Church was rebuilt to the Gothic style around 1480 and it was dedicated to St. Clemens. The altarpiece dates from 1520 and the crucifix from 1300s. The pulpit was made in c. 1600. There are graves of 98 German soldiers and 15 civilians from the World War II.
Founded: 1480 | Location: Vordingborg, 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

Vrejlev Priory

Vrejlev Priory was founded as a daughter house by canons from Børglum Abbey about 1165. It was small and built out of granite blocks. After a catastrophic fire in 1200 which destroyed the entire premises, it was decided to rebuild. 12 residential cells were built into the new north range for the Premonstratensian nuns who were to live in the rebuilt priory. Another range contained the refectory and cellars, and a t ...
Founded: 1165 | Location: Vrå, 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

Thorsager Church

Thorsager round church is the only one of its kind in Jutland (and one of Denmark's seven medieval round churches). It was built of brick around 1200 and is one of Jutland's oldest brick buildings - perhaps the oldest. Its thick walls (1m) are an indication of the defensive role it played. The church may lie on the site of a pre-Christian sacrificial place for the god Thor. The size of the church and its architecture s ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Rønde, Denmark

Jørlunde Church

Jørlunde church is an early medieval church situated in Jørlunde, built by Skjalm Hvide around the year 1085. The church is richly decorated inside with frescos dating back to the middle of the 12th century created by the so called Jørlunde workshop.
Founded: c. 1085 | Location: Slangerup, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.