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 trading port on Øresund, the strait which separates Zealand from Skåne, an important fishing ground and busy shipping corridor between the North Sea and the Baltic. Erik VII, the heir of Margaret I, needed funds and his new toll on shipping was a source of steady income. He wanted to impress outsiders and set about purposefully to develop Helsingør as a gateway city. One of the things he did was to establish in the town not only the priory for the Carmelites but also a Franciscan friary and a Dominican priory.

The Carmelites were a mendicant order (tiggermunk) which means that at least in the beginning they depended on the generosity of local residents for their sustenance. They were sometimes called the 'little white friars'. King Erik invited them into Denmark and established the priory of Our Lady in Helsingør to ensure that they remained. As time passed the priory received many properties scattered all over Zealand which decreased their dependence on others. The priory in Helsingør eventually became the headquarters for the Carmelites in Scandinavia.

Its property was a gift from King Erik, and included several farms for its maintenance. The buildings were of red brick, the most common building material of the day in the region. The three main buildings were built around a central garden and cloister, with the church of St. Mary forming the fourth side to the south. The church was built as a three-aisled basilica, but the central nave was built significantly higher than the others in the Gothic style.

The oldest buildings were destroyed by a fire in 1450, resulting in its current appearance which dates to 1500, when the building of the church was completed. In 1516 a hospital was created here for foreign sailors.

After the dissolution of the priory in 1536 during the Reformation, the Carmelites were turned out, and the premises were abandoned until 1541 when Christian III re-endowed it as the hospital of Helsingør (Vor Frue Hospital or Almindeligt Hospital), with enough income-producing properties to sustain it. It was continued in intermittent use as a hospital for the sick, the elderly, and the poor until 1916, when new premises were made available elsewhere. Also in 1541 a grammar school was established in the west wing, which continued until 1807.

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Details

Founded: 1430
Category: Religious sites in Denmark
Historical period: Kalmar Union (Denmark)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

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User Reviews

Beau Yeung (2 years ago)
Sadly was closed at 2pm the day we came..
Marcus Forelius (2 years ago)
Cool little side trip just a for the walk to the castle this gorgeous church was empty and quiet when I went. One could not help but be stirred by the stone work on the floor of the church, the pulpit, the icon work and organ all were top notch compared to other churches I saw in Denmark. Go and it will be worth it I promise.
Agnese Piovesan (2 years ago)
Very beautiful building with a super interesting story. We found a lovely and expert woman with the key of every room that showed us around for almost one hour, telling us interesting anecdotes over the monastery.
Mariia Nesterova (2 years ago)
It closes early but very nice to see from the outside.
Cecilie Urup (2 years ago)
Beautiful cozy and charming church - really get the sense of a building full of soul :)
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