Medieval churches in Lolland

Maribo Cathedral

Maribo Abbey, established in 1416, was the first Bridgettine monastery in Denmark and became one of the most important Danish abbeys of the late Middle Ages. The monastery is in ruins, but the abbey church still remains in use as Maribo Cathedral. Originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Bridget of Vadstena, the church was built in the early 15th century. It was Queen Margrethe I who provided land for a monaster ...
Founded: 1416 | Location: Maribo, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Errindlev Church

Errindlev Church dates from the second half of the 12th century. It has a Romanesque chancel and nave. The church is said to have been dedicated to St Nicholas because of its associations with seafarers who used it as a landmark. After the Reformation it belonged to the Crown until in 1699 it was transferred to Flemming Holck til Lungholm whose estate was acquired by Christian Detlev Reventlow. As a result, it later came ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Errindlev, 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

Sandby Church

Sandby Church dates from the middle of the 13th century and it has a Romanesque chancel and nave and a Late Gothic tower. Little is known of the church"s early history other than the Crown had clerical appointment rights before the Reformation. It remained under the Crown until 1679 when it was transferred to the episcopal authority of Funen. In 1726, it passed into the ownership of the Danneskiold-Samsøe til ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Harpelunde, Denmark

Avnede Church

Avnede Church was originally a wooden structure, probably one of the first to be built on Lolland in the early 11th century. It was located near a spring known in pre-Christian times and later Christianized as St Lawrence"s spring. It was well known for the powerful effects of its waters. The church itself was also originally dedicated to St Lawrence. Today"s stone building dates from the end of the 14th century ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Nakskov, Denmark

Hunseby Church

Hunseby Church was built in the mid-1100s with a Romanesque chancel and nave and a Gothic tower. The church was originally dedicated to St. Andrew as can be seen from the inscription on the oldest bell from 1465. From Romanesque inscriptions in the stonework supporting an old portal, it appears the church must have existed in the middle of the 12th century. Little is known of its early ownership apart from the fact that t ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Maribo, 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

Radsted Church

The oldest part of Radsted Church was built around 1200 in Late Romanesque style. the chancel was demolished in the early 1300s and rebuilt in Gothic style. The tower was originally erected in c. 1400 and restored in 1621. Radsted Church was enlarged in the 1600s and restored 1868-1870. The Renaissance altar and pulpit date from 1610. The font is made in Gotland and dates from the 1300s.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Sakskobing, Denmark

Utterslev Church

Utterslev Church was built in the 13th century. It has a half-circled apse, tower and vestry decorated with beautiful blinds. The pulpit and altarpiece date from the seventeenth century. The centre of the altarpiece houses a painting by the renowned Danish church artist Dorph in the 19th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Horslunde, Denmark

Toreby Church

Toreby Church was built around 1200 and it is an unusually large red-brick Romanesque building, the nave and chancel having been extended in the Gothic period with a sacristy and lateral aisle. The tower was constructed in late Gothic times, shortly after the church was built. The sacristy to the north of the chancel was built at the beginning of the 14th century. The aisles were added in the Gothic period, first the one ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Toreby, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.