Antvorskov Abbey Ruins

Slagelse, Denmark

Antvorskov was the principal Scandinavian monastery of the Roman Catholic Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. In 1165, Valdemar the Great, who was himself an honorary Knight of St John, gave the Order land at Antvorskov. The monastery was constructed soon thereafter, during the time of Archbishop Eskil. The mother monastery, on Rhodes, and a monastery on Cyprus were built to house pilgrims to the Holy Land. Daughter houses such as Antvorskov were to forward any profits from properties to the monastery on Rhodes. Over time, however, especially after the collapse of Crusader kingdoms in Palestine, the Order focused more on helping local people, especially those suffering from leprosy, which was not uncommon in mediaeval Europe.

In the 13th and 14th centuries, the monastery became one of Denmark's major landowners. Many persons nearing death and seeking to withdraw from the world into a quasi-religious life donated some or all of their goods to the monastery. Many families seeking heavenly rest for their kinsmen donated property to buy prayers in perpetuity for those deceased relatives, or to buy burial places inside the abbey church.

Despite the vast landholdings attached to the monastery, the central government of the Order on Rhodes (and, later, on Malta) often scolded Antvorskov for failing to send the required excess to the mother house. In time, Antvorskov came to own farms and land all over Denmark and as far south as Rűgen, where a daughter abbey at Maschenholt was established in 1435.

After the Reformation, the monastery complex became a royal residence. Frederik II died at Antvorskov in 1588. Frederik IV's wife was created Countess of Antvorskov, but upon her death the properties reverted to the crown. In 1717, the abbey became for a while a staging location for the Danish army, housing troops.

The abbey church was reopened for services in 1722, but the new owner, Finance Minister Koes, ordered the church to be pulled down and the materials used to rebuild his manor at Falkenstein. In 1774, lands at Anvorskov were broken into nine large estates, which passed into the hands of local noble families. In 1799, State Minister Bruun bought the remaining estate, divided it into four parcels, and sold them off.

The remnants of the monastic complex crumbled, visited by Danes and others as a picturesque reminder of the distant past; in his autobiography, Hans Christian Andersen, for example, mentions excursions to the ruins of the monastery. But by 1816, the last of the ancient buildings stood in hopeless disrepair and were torn down.

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Address

Kongevejen, Slagelse, Denmark
See all sites in Slagelse

Details

Founded: 1165
Category: Miscellaneous historic sites in Denmark
Historical period: The First Kingdom (Denmark)

Rating

3.9/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Amalie Selsmark (4 years ago)
Very romantic. Had a great date. Would recommend to a friend.
Jesper Nielsen (4 years ago)
Pretty overlooked historical place. Not a whole bunch left, but what's here is original and old, from when this place was the ecclesiatic centre of West Zealand.
Amin Morshed (5 years ago)
Cool place to see ruins of old times in Denmark
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