The Church of Our Lady with its five distinctive towers is the most imposing landmark of Kalundborg. The church is built of red brick, indicating that it was constructed no earlier than 1170 when brick was first used in Denmark. Coincidentally, this is also the date of nearby Esbern Snare's castle, the site's first fortification. The architectural design, however, would indicate a rather later date, possibly in the first three decades of the 13th century.
At the time when the church was built, a small medieval town stood on the hill. It was originally fortified by Snare's castle but this was replaced in the 14th century by Kalundborg Castle, now in ruins, with its ring walls and ditches. Much of this has now disappeared but the old churchyard walls are still intact. Two brick houses from 1500 form part of the boundary walls and a few brick houses near the church are evidence of the prosperity the town enjoyed in the 15th century.
The central tower of the church collapsed in 1827 due to structural flaws and incautious repairs inside the church. Collapse did not cause any injuries but many medieval furnishings were destroyed. As the church had fallen into a state of disrepair by the beginning of the 19th century, restoration work was carried out first from 1867 to 1871 under the leadership of Vilhelm Tvedes when the central tower was rebuilt, and later from 1917 to 1921 when the three entrances and the windows were reconstructed under architects Andreas and Mogens Clemmensen. From the square nave, four arms of equal length stretch out to a polygon terminal. These proportions have been compared to the description of the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation. While the original barrel vaults of the transepts are still in place, the columns in the nave and the vaults have been reconstructed.
The medieval sacristy (1400) along the north wall of the chancel is well preserved. In about 1500 it was given an upper storey.
The plan is in the form of a Greek cross with four arms of equal length. The window arches as well as the pilasters and sunken columns inside the church suggest the involvement of Lombard builders from northern Italy. It is said to be Denmark's most important contribution to architecture during the Middle Ages.
The church's central tower, known as Mary's tower (after the Virgin Mary), is 44 m tall and square-shaped while the four lateral towers, each 34 m tall, are octagonal. The other towers are also named after saints: St. Anne's to the east, St. Gertrude's to the west, St. Mary Magdalene's to the south and St. Catherine's to the north. The four columns supporting the central tower are made of granite, providing additional strength. With five towers in all, the church is unique.
Little remains of the church's original furnishings apart from the granite font, sculpted by a mason who worked for the Esbern Snare family. There is also a wooden crucifx (c. 1500) from the rood altar and two pairs of candesticks. A mural fragment (c. 1225) in the north window of the chancel shows that the interior was once decorated with wall paintings or kalkmalerier. The altarpiece was designed in 1650 by Lorentz Jørgensen of Holbæk while the pulpit (1871) is the work of Vilhelm Tvede. The church has four bells, two from 1607 and 1732 in the northern tower and two from 1502 and 1938 in the eastern tower.
In December 2008, Kalundborg municipality, supported by a group of leading Danish architects, urged the Danish cultural authorities to submit a request to UNESCO for inclusion of the Church of Our Lady in the World Heritage list.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.