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:
The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.
The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.
The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.
The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.
Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.
The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.