Monasteries in Denmark

Hospital of the Holy Ghost

The Hospital of the Holy Ghost(Helligåndsklostret), also known as Aalborg Kloster, is a former establishment of the Order of the Holy Ghost in Aalborg, Denmark. It was the hospital of Aalborg from 1431 to 1953 and is one of Denmark's best preserved medieval establishments. These are the oldest buildings in north Jutland, and the former hospital is also the oldest social institution in Denmark. The hospital was founded i ...
Founded: 1431 | Location: Aalborg, Denmark

St. Canute's Abbey

St. Canute's Benedictine Abbey (Skt Knuds Kloster) was built to support the pilgrimage centre for the relics of the royal Danish martyr Saint Canute (died 1086), and was the successor to the priory of St. Mary and St. Alban, Denmark's earliest monastic house. Located in Odense, it was the island of Funen's most important medieval religious institution. St. Canute's Abbey was founded in connection with the pilgrimage site ...
Founded: 1096 | Location: Odense, 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

Church of Our Lady

The Church of Our Lady is one of the largest churches of Aarhus, Denmark. The church was originally known as St. Nicholas" Church but was expanded by the construction of a Dominican priory in 1240, the Vor Frue Kloster (Our Lady"s Priory), of which the present church formed the southern wing. After the Reformation in Denmark, the name was changed to the Church of Our Lady and King Christian III decreed th ...
Founded: 1060 | Location: Aarhus, Denmark

Church of Our Lady

The Abbey of Our Lady (Vor Frue Kloster) was an early Benedictine nunnery in Aalborg. The former monastic church survived as a parish church, the Vor Frue Kirke ('Church of Our Lady'), until 1876, when it was demolished, and the present church of the name built on the site. With the loss of the abbey"s archives around the time of the Reformation the exact date of foundation of the Abbey of Our Lady is unk ...
Founded: 1876 | Location: Aalborg, Denmark

St. Catherine's Priory

St. Catherine"s Priory was an important early Dominican friary. The buildings still stand, although there is no monastic community there; known as Ribe Kloster, it is Denmark"s most complete extant monastic building complex. The Dominican priory in Ribe, dedicated to Saint Catherine of Siena, was founded in 1228 by Dominican friars on property given to them by Tuve, Bishop of Ribe, only the second such foundati ...
Founded: 1228 | Location: Ribe, Denmark

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

Dominican Priory Church

The Dominican Priory (Sortebrødrekloster) was an important Dominican monastery in Viborg during the Middle Ages. Viborg Priory was established around 1227 by Bishop Gunnar of Viborg. It is first mentioned in the church annals in 1246 when donations to the priory are listed. The priory church was completed towards the end of the 13th century in red brick in the Gothic style and consisted of a choir, sacristy, and ce ...
Founded: 1227 | Location: Viborg, Denmark

Sorø Abbey

Sorø Abbey was the preeminent and wealthiest monastic house in all of Denmark during the Middle Ages. It was founded by Asser Rig, the son of Skjalm Hvide, Zealand"s most powerful noble in 1142. Asser established a Benedictine House just a few years prior to his death in 1151. He then lived as a monk for the last years of his life. It was common practice for wealthy and powerful individuals and families to fou ...
Founded: 1142 | Location: Sorø, Denmark

Løgum Abbey Church

Løgum Abbey was founded in 1173 by Bishop Stefan of Ribe who had previously been at Herrevad Abbey in Skåne, the first Cistercian foundation in Denmark. Løgum was in a sense a daughter house to Herrevad. The abbey was called 'Locus Dei' in Latin, meaning 'God"s place' and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The new wooden monastery was destroyed by a fire in 1190. Bishop Omer of Rib ...
Founded: 1173 | Location: Løgumkloster, Denmark

Gavnø Castle

The first historical mention of Gavnø is in King Valdemar"s census book from 1231 where a 'house on Gavnø' is mentioned. The house was apparently a castle built to defend Denmark"s western coasts. In the 15th century, Queen Margaret I opened St Agnes" Priory there, catering for nuns from aristocratic families. The chapel can still be seen in the castle"s southern wing although i ...
Founded: 1737 | Location: Næstved, 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

Holbæk Abbey

Holbæk is first mentioned in 1199 in a letter of gift from Bishop Absalon. The Dominican Priory at Holbaek was established by 1275 just south of Holbæk, Denmark. The king personally owned Holbæk and the town had supported the king's cause against the Bishop of Roskilde and perhaps the placing of a Dominican house at Holbaek and the building ofHolbæk Castle added to its stature among Zealand towns. ...
Founded: 1275 | Location: Holbaek, Denmark

Gisselfeld Castle

Gisselfeld, a former monastery, is Denmark's fifth-largest estate. The three-storeyed Renaissance-style building has stepped gables, loopholes and a projecting tower over the main gate. The grounds include a moat, a well-kept park, lake, waterfall, gardens, greenhouse, and a fountain. The estate measures 3,850 hectares, including Hesede, Edelesminde, Brødebæk and Gødstrupgård, of which 2,400 hectares is forest. Gisse ...
Founded: 1547-1575 | Location: Haslev, Denmark

Esrum Abbey

Esrum Abbey, also Esrom Abbey was the second Cistercian monastery founded in Denmark. It began as a Benedictine foundation, perhaps in about 1140, and was built near a pre-Christian religious site, later called Esrum Spring, where a small wooden stave chapel may have existed before the abbey was established. The foundation was taken over by the Cistercians in 1151 on the authority of Archbishop Eskil of Lund, and was coun ...
Founded: c. 1140 | Location: Graested, Denmark

Veng Abbey Church

Veng Abbey was one of Denmark's earliest Benedictine monasteries, established in the late 1060s, with connections to the royal forebears of King Valdemar I. By the 1160s the abbey had fallen into a severe decline: the original endowments failed to sustain it, and it had gained a reputation for being 'unruly'. Eventually Abbot Jens was brought before a church tribunal and forced to give up his office on the grounds of immo ...
Founded: 1060s | Location: Skanderborg, Denmark

Vestervig Abbey Church

Vestervig Abbey was established in about 1059 making it one of Denmark"s most ancient religious houses. About 1030 Saint Thøger settled at Vestervig and built the first wattle and clay church in Thy. Thøger was a Thuringian missionary who had been living in England when Olaf II went there on a Viking expedition. Thøger"s wonderful sermons brought an invitation to return to Norway with Olav a ...
Founded: 1059 | Location: Vestervig, Denmark

Antvorskov Abbey Ruins

Antvorskov was the principal Scandinavian monastery of the Roman Catholic Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. In 1165, Valdemar the Great, who was himself an honorary Knight of St John, gave the Order land at Antvorskov. The monastery was constructed soon thereafter, during the time of Archbishop Eskil. The mother monastery, on Rhodes, and a monastery on Cyprus were built to house pilgrims to the Holy Land. Daughter houses ...
Founded: 1165 | Location: Slagelse, 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 northern Jutland, also kn ...
Founded: c. 1134 | Location: Vrå, Denmark

Eskilsø Abbey Ruins

The Augustinian monastery was built in the around the year 1100 and moved to Æbelholt in north Zealand around 1175. The small abbey was 28m long building with a nave, apse, chancel and porch.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Skibby, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.