Medieval churches in Denmark

Østofte Church

Østofte Church was built in the 14th century. The Romanesque apse, chancel and nave formed the original building while the tower and porch were added in the Late-Gothic period and the north wing was completed in 1656. The church was dedicated to St Peter, probably in 1345. King Christopher of Bavaria transferred ownership to Maribo Abbey as first documented in 1451. That ownership remained after the Reformation wh ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Nørreballe, 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

Hover Church

Completed in the first half of the twelfth century, Hover Church is one of the oldest churches in Denmark. In 1771, the church"s west gable was damaged by a storm. A heavy buttress now supports one wall. The porch was built in the 1500s in late Gothic style on the south side of the church, where the men"s entrance once was. The women"s entrance was on the north side of the church. The frescoes are dated to ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Spjald, Denmark

Majbølle Church

Majbølle Church was constructed around 1270. The tower and large chapel which were added around 1470. There has been a holy well in Majbølle churchyard (no longer existing), which considerably attracted more pilgrimages. The holy well was dedicated to Saint Anne (the Virgin Mary"s mother). The church was originally called St. Anne"s church. An object of interest is the stock of the church tower fro ...
Founded: c. 1270 | Location: Guldborg, Denmark

Våbensted Church

Våbensted Church was built in the 13th century and the tower was erected in 1674. The southern chapel is from the Baroque period. The altarpiece dates from about 1620 and is painted by August Jerndorff.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sakskøbing, 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

Hillested Church

Hillested Church dates from the c. 1200. It is a Romanesque village church, built of large stones with clearly extensions. The altar dates from 1588 with a later reredos. Pulpit dates from the Renaissance period.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Maribo, 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

St. Jørgensbjerg Church

St. Jørgensbjerg church is the oldest preserved stone building in Denmark. Built of travertine circa 1100, it may have been inspired by the Roskilde's cathedral predecessor, a travertine church from 1080, built by Bishop Svend Nordmand. The bricked-up north door of the church may also stem from its predecessor from circa 1040, which was investigated in excavations undertaken in 1953-54. If it does, the north door i ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Roskilde, 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

Vestenskov Church

Vestenskov Church was built of red bricks originally between 1250 and 1300. It was enlarged in the 1400s and the church size was was nearly doubled. There is an external wooden bell tower. The Renaissance altar dates from 1590s, but it was restored in 1650. The pulpit was carved in 1627.
Founded: 1250-1300 | Location: Nakskov, Denmark

Vester Ulslev Church

Vester Ulslev Church was built in the late 13th century. The late-Gothic tower was erected later in the Middle Ages. The Romanesque font is probably made in Gotland. One of church bells date from 16th century, other from 1860. The altarpiece was painted around 1616 and is very similar to near Fuglse Church altar. The pulpit dates from c. 1610.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Øster-Ulslev, Denmark

Nørre Ørslev Church

Nørre Ørslev with Romanesque choir and nave was built around the year 1250. The Gothic tower and modern porch were added later. The church is now painted pink and red.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark

Musse Church

There may has been a church on the site of current Musse church since 11th century and it is one of the oldest Christian sites on the Lolland island. The current church was built around 1200 and since Reformation it has been a chapel of Døllefjelde church. The altar dates from c. 1585 and pulpit from 1625.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Nysted, 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

Elling Church

Elling Church was built in the first half of 13th century. It was made of large bricks. There are beautiful details in the church, like the votive ship from 1757 and pulpit from 1766.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Frederikshavn, Denmark

Vålse Church

Vålse Church was built around 1100 and it is consecrated to Sankt Olav, whose figure can be seen on the triptych altarpiece dating from 1450. Furthermore there is a relief of the crucification and the 12 apostles and 4 saints.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Norre Alslev, Denmark

Vitskøl Abbey

Vitskøl Abbey (Vitskøl Kloster, Vitae Schola, meaning 'school of life') is a former Cistercian monastery and one of the oldest existing monastic complexes in northern Europe. Vitskøl Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks under Abbot Henrik while in exile from Varnhem Abbey in Sweden during a conflict with Queen Christina Björnsdotter of Sweden. The monks from Varnhem were later replaced ...
Founded: 1158 | Location: Ranum, Denmark

Herritslev Church

Herritslev church was built around 1220 under the rule of Valdemar II of Denmark. The tower and vaults were added 150-200 years later in Gothic style. The pulpit, made in Dutch Renaissance style, dates from 1610. There are some frescoes in the vaults from the 13th century. In the cemetery on churchyard is a notable medieval stone wall.
Founded: c. 1220 | Location: Nysted, Denmark

Tågerup Church

Tågerup Church is a Romanesque parish church dating from the beginning of the 13th century. Its nave is richly decorated with early 16th-century frescos painted by the Brarup workshop. The church was originally dedicated to Our Lady as documented in a letter of indulgence from 1470. An altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary attracted large numbers of pilgrims on the Feast of the Annunciation until 1636. Little is known ...
Founded: 1220 | Location: Rødby, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.