The Church of Our Lady in Assens is the second largest church on the island of Funen. The main chapel on the north side of the church and the lower, square part of the tower are remains of a Romanesque church. In 1488 the church stood in its present form. The Catholic past of the building is heralded in a monstrance, now located to the right of the altar, and a stoup in what was then the porch.
After the Reformation, it came into use as a protestant church. It underwent rough-handed restoration work in 1842-56 and 1881-84.
The church is a three-nave church built in large, red brick of the type in Denmark known as monk stone (munkesten). Typically of Gothic churches, the roofs of the aisles are lower than that of the central nave, allowing light to enter through clerestory windows. The tower stands at 48 metres. Its octagonal upper part is unusual in Danish church architecture, the only similar design is that of the five towers of Church of Our Lady in Kalundborg.
The altarpiece dates from about 1620. The painting is from 1826 and by Dankvart Dreyer. It was a gift from the painter who was born in Assens and settled there again later in life. Another work by a local artist found in the church is a marble angel created by the sculptor Jens Adolf Jerichau who was born in Assens in 1816, incidentally the same year as Dreyer. The pulpit, from the second half of the 17th century, was made in Hans Nielsen Bangs's workshop and is decorated with woodcarvings depicting scenes from the Passion on the sides, and nine wooden figures on the edges, probably representing nine of the disciples. Figures of the last three disciples may have decorated the stairs leading up to the pulpit. It also has an hour glass from the 18th century, probably to ensure that the priest's services did not last more than one hour. The wrought iron balustrade of the altar rails feature a crossed hammer and key, the trademark of King Christian IV's court smith, Casper Finck.
More than 450 people were buried inside the church in the 18th century. Some were covered with richly decorated tomb stones while others were covered with brick or simple wooden planks. All the burials were removed from the church in the beginning of the 19th century when burials inside churches were abolished due to health risk. The tomb stones were then placed along the external walls of the church.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.