Monasteries in 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

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

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

Dueholm Priory Ruins

Dueholm Priory was a monastery of the Order of the Knights of St. John of Malta, also known as the Knights Hospitaller. It was founded in 1370 by Bishop Sven of Børglum, the diocese of northernmost Jutland at the time. At its height in the early 16th century the priory consisted of twelve brother priests led by a prior, who was often a secular nobleman who served as advocate in worldly matters. The hospital was ope ...
Founded: 1370 | Location: Nykøbing Mors, Denmark

Stubber Priory Ruins

Establishment date of Stubber Priory is unknown due to a lack of records which were destroyed when the priory was dissolved in 1547. It is probable that the land for the abbey was gifted by one Helm of Stubbethorp (the old name for the area where the abbey was built, not earlier than 1163. Helm is mentioned as a donor to Tvis Abbey. Helm apparently gave his farm at Stubberthorp to the Benedictines sometime between 1190 an ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Holstebro, 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

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

Sebber Priory

Sebber Priory was established between 1250 and 1268 as a house for Benedictine nuns. The priory was dedicated to St. Lawrence. Its founding details are uncertain; it may have begun as an Augustinian house. One question about Sebber Priory has always been why it was located on the coast in such an isolated location. It appears that Sebber was already a village in Viking times, a trading place for ships plying the Limfjord ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Nibe, 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

Tvilum Abbey Church

Tvilum Priory, the latest of the Augustinian monasteries in Denmark, was founded between 1246 and 1249 by Bishop Gunner of Ribe, who had hoped to establish the Augustinians in the cathedral chapter at Ribe, but in vain. After he resigned his bishopric in 1246, he donated all his worldly goods to the monastery at Tvilum, while he himself became aFranciscan friar. The Bishop of Aarhus at about the same time gifted the incom ...
Founded: 1246-1249 | Location: Fårvang, Denmark

Asmild Abbey Church

The relatively large church, which predated the nunnery, was built about 1090 as a parish church dedicated to Saint Margaret of Antioch during the reign of King Olaf I of Denmark. It functioned as the cathedral of Viborg until the new cathedral at Viborg was finished in 1133. It was constructed of granite and limestone in the Romanesque style with rounded arches and few windows. The church was of an irregular shape with a ...
Founded: c. 1090 | Location: Viborg, 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

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

Glenstrup Abbey Church

Glenstrup Abbey, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was founded about 1125 as a Benedictine monastery. The nobleman Svend Bo and his wife Inger Thott gave property and several farms to support it in the mid-12th century. It was built on the site of a holy spring called Maria"s Spring in medieval times. The location was a religious one in Viking times and the abbey was most likely constructed on the site of a stave chapel ...
Founded: 1125 | Location: Fårup, 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

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.