Monasteries in Denmark

Alling Abbey Ruins

Alling Abbey, dedicated to Saint John, was built at the lower end of Alling Lake near the town of Svostrup sometime before 1250. There was a connection between the closure of Vejerslev Abbey in 1231 and the building of the abbey at Alling which was partially filled with "unruly" monks from Vejerslev. The constructed abbey is mentioned first in 1250. The abbey was constructed in the familiar pattern. Three range ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Ans By, 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

Roskilde Abbey

Roskilde Abbey or Our Lady"s Abbey was a monastery of nuns dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. It was founded in the early 12th century for Benedictine nuns, but in 1177 became part of the Cistercian reform movement. It was chiefly known for the tomb of Saint Margrethe or Margaret of Ølsemagle or of Højelse (both names of places near Køge), who, although murdered by her husband, had been wrongly ...
Founded: 1176 | Location: Roskilde, 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

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

Dronninglund Castle

Dronninglund Castle is a former royal residence located in the northern part of the Jutland Peninsula. Its history goes back to the 12th century, when it was the Benedictine monastery of Hundslund Priory. After the last nuns left it in 1581, it was first owned by the Lindenow family. In 1690, Queen Charlotte Amalie acquired it. It is from her that the palace takes the name Dronninglund, meaning 'queens forest'. ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Dronninglund, Denmark

Tvis Abbey Ruins

Tvis Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey founded in 1163 by Prince Buris as a daughter house of Herrevad Abbey in Scania (now in Sweden). The abbey was dissolved during the Reformation, probably in 1547. The abbey church, which served as a parish church, was demolished, apparently in 1698, after which a replacement was set up in the west wing, but that too was demolished after the construction of a new parish church in 188 ...
Founded: 1163 | Location: Holstebro, 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

Æbelholt Abbey Ruins

Æbelholt Abbey was first established on Eskilsø Island in Roskilde Fjord in 1104. While no remains of the wooden abbey have survived, the stone abbey church there still remains, though in ruins. It was 24 meters long and had a nave, choir, and apse in the Romanesque style. The monks became 'unruly' and Bishop Absalon of Roskilde, determined to obtain a new Augustinian superior, sent for his friend, ...
Founded: 1167 | Location: Hillerød, 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

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

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 ...
Founded: 1547-1575 | Location: Haslev, 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: 1431 | Location: Aalborg, 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

Brahetrolleborg Castle

Brahetrolleborg is a castle was known as Cistercian Holme Abbey before the Reformation. The abbey was founded and settled in 1172 from the Cistercian Herrevad Abbey in Scania, now in Sweden, of which it was a daughter house. It was secularised during the Reformation, probably in 1536. After the abbey was secularised and taken into the possession of the Danish Crown, the Crown released it into private ownership. In 1568 i ...
Founded: 1172 | Location: Faaborg, 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

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

Øm Abbey Ruins

According to the abbey chronicle, Øm Abbey was founded in 1172 by Cistercian monks from Vitskøl Abbey in northern Jutland. The abbey was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was called "Cara Insula" or the 'dear Island'. The Øm Abbey Chronicle was written by local monks from 1206 to 1267 when it abruptly ends. It outlines events at the abbey during the tumultuous years of the early 13t ...
Founded: 1172 | Location: Ry, 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

Mariager Abbey Church

Mariager Abbey was founded in 1430 on a hill overlooking the ferry across Mariager Fjord by the Bridgettines, the last monastic order to reach Denmark before the Reformation, on land acquired in the late 1420s from the dissolved Randers Abbey. Tradition has it that the abbey was founded by several noble families in Eastern Jutland. Sources disagree on whether the abbey was founded from Maribo Abbey or from the Bridgettine ...
Founded: 1430 | Location: Mariager, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.

The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.

In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.

Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.

Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.