Church of Our Saviour

Copenhagen, Denmark

Church of Our Saviour (Vor Frelsers Kirke) is a baroque church, most famous for its corkscrew spire with an external winding staircase that can be climbed to the top, offering extensive views over central Copenhagen. It is also noted for its carillon, which is the largest in northern Europe and plays melodies every hour from 8 am to midnight.

When Christian IV planned Christianshavn in 1617, it was intended as an independent merchant's town on the island of Amager and it therefore needed a church. A temporary church was inaugurated in 1639 but construction of the present Church of Our Saviour, the design of Lambert van Haven, did not start until 1682. The church was inaugurated 14 years later in 1695 but important interior features like the altar had a notoriously temporary character and the tower still had no spire. The church got its permanent altar in 1732 but plans for construction of the spire was not revitalized until 1747 under the reign of Frederik V. The new architect on the project was Lauritz de Thurah. He soon abandoned van Haven´'s original design in favour of his own project that was approved by the King in 1749. Three years later the spire was finished and the King climbed the tower at a ceremony on 28 August 1752.

The church is built in a Dutch baroque style and its basic layout is a Greek cross. The walls rest on a granite foundation and are made of red and yellow tiles but in a random pattern unlike what is seen in Christian IV's buildings where they are generally systematically arranged. The facade is segmented by pilasters in the palladian giant order, that is they continue in the building's entire height. The pilasters are of the Tuscan order with bases and capitals in sandstone. The cornice is also in sandstone but with a frieze in tiles. Between the pilasters are tallround-arched windows with clear glass and iron cames. There are entrances at the gable of the cross arms except for the eastern gable where the sacristy is added. The main entrance is in the western gable below the tower and has a sandstone portal. All entrances are raised four steps from street level. At each side of the tower, there is a gate at street level leading to the two crypts of the church. The roof is vaulted and covered in black-glazed tiles.

The altarpiece is the work of Nicodemus Tessins the Younger. It depicts a scene from the Garden of Gethsemane between two columns, where Jesus is comforted by an angel while another angel hangs in the air beside them, carrying the golden chalice. On each side, two figures of Pietas and Justitia illustrate the King's motto. The two columns carry a broken, curved architrave and gable. Behind the opening of the broken gable is placed a pane with Jahve's name in Hebrew inscribed and lit from behind. Around the pane is an arrangement of gilded beans and cloud formations.

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Details

Founded: 1695
Category: Religious sites in Denmark
Historical period: Absolutism (Denmark)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Chandana Silva (7 months ago)
Have to make an online reservation to go up the tower. I heard the views are amazing on a sunny day. No church visitation during service; Security guard is very strict. Not even for a prayer.
Alan Campbell (8 months ago)
Well worth the 20 DK and the 300-odd steps to the top. If you have vertigo, maybe skip the last 20 or 30 steps which are outside on a narrow stairway that winds around the spire. If not, go as high as you can and soak in the views!
raffaella pratesi (8 months ago)
Unfortunately when I arrived the church was closed but I climbed up all of the stairs to get on top of the tour... What an amazing place... Absolutely a must do!
Pia Suzan (9 months ago)
I think this was my highlight of Copenhagen, because you could see the whole city from above. The stair case became a little scary on the upper part (inside) but outside it was fine again (except for the height, if you're afraid of nights). I felt pretty safe up there and had a good time.
Frederic VALLUET (10 months ago)
It is quite an amazing experience, climbing the bell tower, from the inside first, then from the outside, enjoying the wonderful view all over Copenhagen. The steep wooden staircases and ladders will definitely sollicite your legs, but it worths it. Forget it if you are subject to vertigo... Be careful, the tower is open till late but if you want to visit the church, the opening hours are more restricted.
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