Viborg Cathedral is the site of one of Denmark's most important historic churches located in the town of Viborg. The modern building is a 19th century construction based on Lund Cathedral in southern Sweden which bears no resemblance to the medieval cathedral that stood on the site since 1130.
Viborg Cathedral has been the seat of a bishop since 1065. While nothing is known of the first church in Viborg, it can be supposed that it was a small timber church with a short nave and choir. No remains of such a building have been found. But if it follows the pattern of other cathedrals in Denmark, it would be on or near the site of the present structure. A stone cathedral was built on the present site and part of its foundations can still be seen in the crypt of the modern cathedral.
The second cathedral dedicated to St Mary and later called, 'Our Lady Cathedral' (Vor Frue Domkirke) was begun about 1130 on the site of a wooden church which was built in Viking times by Bishop Eskild. Eskild was murdered in front of the altar of St Margaret's church (now Asmild Church) on the orders of Erik Emune who was in rebellion against King Niels in 1133. The men who slaughtered bishop Eskild were never brought to justice. The cathedral was built of Danish granite and sandstone in Romanesque style with half-rounded arches supporting a flat timber ceiling. The church consisted of a long nave, two side aisles, and short, stubby transepts, and a choir with a rounded apse. Two towers flanked the main entrance with tall, slim spires.
The cathedral was completed under Bishop Niels about 1200. He also founded the Hospital of St Michael in Viborg. In time many other ecclesiastical buildings surrounded the cathedral. The cathedral also had a chapel for St Anna and Our Lady Chapel. At some point relics of St Willehad, the Archbishop of Bremen in the 780's were brought to Viborg and placed in St Kjeld's chapel.
In 1501 a fire damaged the western section of the church and destroyed the roof. The repairs were made in red brick, the most common building material of the time. By 1530 the cathedral was in the hands of Lutherans who rejected much of what the cathedral had stood for since Viking times. Despite Viborg's enthusiasm for all things reformed, Viborg maintained some of its Catholic traditions longer than anywhere else in Denmark.
A fire damaged the church again in 1567. 27 June 1726 the city and the church suffered devastating fire damage leaving the bare walls and vaulting standing. The old cathedral remnants were enclosed in a Baroque style building that was poorly constructed by 1770. The towers were capped with short 'coffee pots' according to locals who remembered the high spires before the fire.
The church was closed due to lack of funds, and between 1800 and 1814 was used as a grain silo. In 1859 in preparation for restoring the cathedral, it was decided that the walls were so unstable that the church would need to be dismantled and be rebuilt. The designer, Julius Tholle, wanted to keep as much of the medieval building as was feasible and incorporate it into the new building. In 1863 the process of tearing the church down was completed and the cornerstone for the new cathedral was laid. Tholle died in 1871 and his plan was scrapped. The older sections which were deemed too unsalvageable were torn down.
Viborg Cathedral was rebuilt in brick, and then a granite facade attached to achieve the look of a granite church for significantly less money. The building was closely patterned after the ancient Romanesque cathedral at Lund in southern Sweden. This was a controversial decision because the appearance of the cathedral was nothing like the former building. The church was completed and consecrated in 1876. As a result, the present cathedral is a 19th century version of what the builders thought a Romanesque cathedral should look like.
Because the entire contents of the church were lost in the 1726 fire, all the contents to be seen in the church were either taken from other churches or created by artists and craftsmen after 1876 (like seven branch candelabra on the altar, which is made in Lubeck in 1494). Joachim Skovgaard painted frescoes in the church as a reminder of the medieval paintings which were part of the decoration of the ancient cathedral between 1900 and 1913.References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.