Church of Our Lady

Aarhus, Denmark

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 that the surrounding buildings, formerly a priory of the Dominicans, should function as a hospital for the sick and poor. The church was subsequently granted congregational privileges which officially made it a centre for clerical activities in its area.

Between 1250 and 1500 the church was heavily expanded by the addition of, among other things, the large tower. In the 1950s a crypt-church was rediscovered beneath the church during renovations. The crypt church dates to approximately 1060 AD. The church has since been renovated again in 2000.

Crypt church

The crypt church is the oldest extant stone church in Scandinavia. Built in 1060 after the old wooden church had been burned in an assault on the town, the church is situated beneath the main building of the Church of Our Lady. After its discovery in the 1950s, it was restored and reopened on 10 November 1957 and is now used for mass once a week.

During the restoration by the Danish National Museum, two graves were found - one of a child and one of an adult - and 23 coins from the 14th century. Five of these coins were from Lübeck and the rest from Hamburg.

The crypt church was initially built as an attempt to weaken Adalbert, archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen, who had considerable influence on Danish clerical matters, as the head of the Danish church. Svend Estridsen (1047–1074) divided Denmark into 8 bishoprics, and in 1060, Christian became the first bishop of Aarhus. The crypt church was built the same year.

Around 1080, a new and larger church was built here, named after Saint Nicholas, just like numerous other Danish churches of the time. In 1180, it was mentioned as Aarhus' first cathedral, but was demolished when the Dominicans came to town.

There is no historic information about the crypt church from the following centuries. At some point the rooms were walled off and used as a storage room, until the church itself was forgotten.

Priory

The exact year for the erection of the Dominican priory is not known. Different sources point both to the years 1227 and 1239; it is generally assumed that the priory was fully established by approximately 1240.

The priory was separated from the Church of Our Lady during the Reformation, when King Christian III (1534–1559) decided that the church should function as a parish church, while the other priory buildings should be used as a hospital and poor house. In 1888 part of the former priory was converted into a chapel for the residents of the building, then as now principally the elderly.

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Details

Founded: 1060
Category: Religious sites in Denmark
Historical period: The First Kingdom (Denmark)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Kim B. (5 months ago)
This church is really beautiful and has amazing historical value. I came in around midday today (Friday) and it was open but no one was there which I thought was a bit odd but honestly it was nice to have the place to myself to explore the church and the amazing underground area as well. I’d recommend scanning the QR code at the stairs to listen to the interesting information about the building. It’s beautiful, historical and very peaceful and still. I thought the candles were fake because of how still the flame was but nope they’re real so watch out!
stephen c (5 months ago)
Lovely church with crypt including a rare example of Jesus on the cross stylised as a defiant Nordic god.
Rob Barbu (8 months ago)
Finally got in on the third try. I wish they had more consistent open times for non-parishioners, the history of the church is important for European history. That said, when I did get in it was quite nice, and I especially appreciated the thousand year old chapel.
Nikos Gkekas (9 months ago)
The Church of Our Lady (Vor Frue Kirke), located in the city center, is one of Aarhus’ largest churches. Originally called St. Nicholas' Church, it was expanded by the construction of a Dominican priory in 1240, Vor Frue Kloster (Our Lady's Priory), of which the present church formed the southern wing. After the Reformation its name was changed to the Church of Our Lady and King Christian III decreed that the surrounding buildings, formerly a priory of the Dominicans, should function as a hospital for the sick and poor. The church was subsequently granted congregational privileges which officially made it the center for clerical activities in its area. Between 1250 and 1500 the church was heavily expanded by the addition of, among other things, the large tower. In the 1950s a crypt was rediscovered beneath the church during renovations.
Fay Rowland (2 years ago)
You have to see the Viking era crypt, with a crucifix showing Jesus as a Norse king. Beautiful place
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