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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.